All war is a disgrace—not just European war

“[Ukraine] is relatively civilized, relatively European,” CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata said when speaking on the ongoing war in Ukraine.

D’Agata did say “with all due respect” before comparing Ukraine to the war-torn state of countries like Iraq and Syria, but the comment is still unacceptable.  

War is a disgrace everywhere it happens—geography makes no difference.

D’Agata’s comment is one of many similar remarks made by reporters since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s grotesque to deem the situation as unique just because it’s happening in Europe.

Such comments also denounce the recent loss of life in Yugoslavia and in the Bosnian genocide of the early 90s, let alone the 20 million people whose lives were lost after marching off to war in 1914.

D’Agata then made a comparison to Afghanistan and Iraq—where conflicts raged for “decades”—to denote the gravity of the conflict in Ukraine. However, the comment falls short of any sincerity as it implies war is a ‘normal’ situation for countries in the Middle East to endure.

War should never be considered a ‘norm.’ Afghanistan was invaded by Russia in 1979, which was followed by the United States’ help in instigating an insurgency. These actions eventually led to the rise of the Taliban, leaving the country in a long-lasting civil war.

All in all, it’s not normal for countries to be in a constant state of panic while their citizens reside in bomb shelters.

Furthermore, D’Agata went on to call Ukraine “relatively civilized,” which is offensive, to say the least. It’s elitist and racist for Western media to make a statement indirectly suggesting non-Western countries are underdeveloped and crude.

This ignorant attitude also dismisses the fact Europeans spent decades colonizing places such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America through brutal force. They not only controlled the regions through violence but also dismantled societies and left the locals with social and political issues.

It’s even more ridiculous considering how many of the warn-torn places commentators insinuate are “uncivilized” are direct results of violence perpetrated by the West.

Eventually, D’Agata issued an apology, noting that the conflicts should never be compared. But he should’ve never uttered the words in the first place.

D’Agata’s ignorance has called attention to a much larger problem rooted in Orientalism. As much as we celebrate the efforts and the progress made by Western society, a lot of work on anti-racism still needs to be done when our media perpetuates these abhorrent ideologies.

War is war, and it’s always disheartening.

For once, people need to tuck their ignorance away and stop viewing the world through a rose-coloured lens. The European glamour is everlasting, but so is the mangled history of war and violence.

Sydney is a fourth-year political studies student and The Journal’s Senior News Editor.



An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Charlie D’Agata works with CBC.

The Journal regrets the error.

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