Fake news is not new

Juvenescent (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau gave a French language television interview in Quebec during his successful bid to remain Canada’s 23rd prime minister in last year’s election and commented on anti-vaxxers disrupting his campaign.

He was quoted as saying they were "often misogynists and racists, too".

Political protests have become rougher all over the world, but a party leader using such inflammatory language doesn’t help the situation.

I believe that global vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic, but several people I know think the complete opposite. They refuse to be inoculated because of mistrust in government, what they consider an infringement on their rights or that religious beliefs will protect them from a virus that some even consider a hoax.

I respect their right to believe whatever they wish, and the people I know are neither the women-haters nor the racists Trudeau alluded to.

Cutting through all the rhetoric, our vaccination dilemma really amounts to far too many media sources in this “Information Age” we inhabit.

Those who adhere to what the World Health Organization and local health authorities tell them consider information and warnings they receive as factual, while anti-vaxxers believe it’s all fake. Simultaneously, there are so many alternative news sites delivering opinions, ideas and remedies that anti-vaxxers totally believe are factual, while vaccinated people consider them as absolutely fake.

While “fake news" raised its ugly head in politics everywhere recently, the term has been around for a long time. About 130 years ago, competing U.S. media barons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer accused each other of printing fake news in order to sell more newspapers. They called it “yellow journalism” back then, but the fake news phenomenon has been around far longer.

For instance, English King Richard the Lionheart was always depicted as heroic, with the Cross Of Jesus emblazoned on his tunic and battle pennants and leading his cavalry in the third Crusade against Sultan Saladin who ruled 12th century Jerusalem. Richard was the good Christian warrior in the history books, with never a bad word spoken about him.

Usually unmentioned is the inconvenient truth that he oversaw and sanctioned the particularly brutal massacre of about 3,000 Muslim men, women and children prisoners-of-war, following a breakdown in negotiations with Saladin.

Richard the Lionheart was not necessarily such a nice guy after all. His centuries-old chivalrous legend is based on news that was more fake than factual.

Bernie Smith, Parksville

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