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Motivated Ignorance

Motivated Ignorance

Motivated Ignorance
April 11
18:13 2019

Jesus Sanchez Melean

Could you guess in which country is the Betsiboka River located? I had to google the answers. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Anoushka Buddhikot, was able to answer these questions in 5 seconds. Anoushka was one of the 54 competitors that made it to the finals of the 2018 National Geography Bee. This girl, who is a 9th grade student at a high school in New Jersey, showed interest in Geography at the age of 2, when she was gifted a puzzle with the maps of the U.S. and one with the map of the world.

Anoushka was one of the top ten U.S. students with best performance on this competition for the second year in a row. This girl is ready to get to the top places for a third year in a row, at the 31st National Geography Bee that will take place between May 19th and 22nd in Washington, D.C. Anoushka is a good example of perseverance and dedication. But her performance also reveals a great strength of the U.S. education system.

The achievements of Anoushka must not be tarnished by the shameful graphic that showed up on screen at the show Fox & Friends broadcasted by Fox News. The message on the screen of the president’s favorite network said: “Trump cuts U.S aid to 3 Mexican countries.” Shortly after, Ed Henry, one of the presenters on the show apologized on live T.V.  “We had an inaccurate graphic on the screen while we were talking about this same story, we just want to be clear, funding is being cut to three Central American countries, we apologize for the error,” he said.

Few people paid attention to the apology, and a lot of people made fun of the error. Nayib Bukele, president elect of El Salvador made a comment on Twitter. Bukele published a picture of him with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, and captioned it: “The presidents of 2 Mexican countries.” Another one that made fun of the situation was the renowned Spanish chef Jose Anders, who wrote: “We love Mexico … even those who are loaded with hate like @FoxNews love Mexico sometimes. We love Mexico so much that all countries are Mexican.”

The mistake was publicized by @BadFoxGraphics, a Twitter account that keeps tabs on the errors that Fox makes on their screen graphics. Are they stupid at @foxandfriends? said a Tweet that showed a map of Central and North America featuring only Mexico and the U.S. Democratic strategist Zac Petkanas attributed the mistake to a different reason. Petkanas believes that is evidence of the racismo that characterizes the T.V. network. Commentators at Fox news usually denigrate Hispanics.

Besides ignorance and racism, other analysts believe that the mistake was planned. Adrienne LaFrance, executive director of The Atlantic, believes the phrase that was shown on screen is consistent with the focus of the T.V. network. For FOX, their presenters, and producers, the word “immigration” and “Mexico” are synonyms and they both represent a threat. That morning, Fox could not pass on the opportunity to tie the closing of the border with the suspension of the financial aid to Central America.

For Fox, Trump is already on campaign for 2020. It is their job to aid in the strategy of warming up the discourse. The best way to do this is to simplify the facts, to connect with the Trump followers who don’t like geography. For that reason, seeing such a mistake on Fox made me ask myself: How is it possible that in the same country where the national Geography Bee takes place, there are people so fanatic and irresponsible as to disregard and twist world geography in such a way?


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