Listened to Hurtling Toward Catastrophe from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A vehicle burns at Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad on Friday. The Pentagon said the U.S. operation killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.

After the US military assassinated an Iranian military general, war propaganda kicked into overdrive. On this week’s On the Media, how news consumers can cut through the misleading claims and dangerous frames. Plus, how Generation Z is interpreting the geopolitical crisis through memes. And, how apocalyptic thinking is a near-constant through history. 

1. Nathan Robinson [@NathanJRobinson], editor of Current Affairs, on the most suspect tropes in war coverage. Listen.

2. Lee Fang [@lhfang], investigative journalist at The Intercept, on the pundits with unacknowledged conflicts of interest. Listen.

3. Ian Bogost [@ibogost], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on memes. Listen.

4. Dan Carlin [@HardcoreHistory], host of "Hardcore History," on apocalyptic moments throughout human history. Listen.

Brooke Gladstone speaking with Ian Bogost [@ibogost], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on #​WorldWar3 memes:

34:29 IB: That’s the pattern that we will see recur. Not necessarily with respect to warfare.  But whatever the next thing is. And there certainly will be a next thing.
34:37 BG: You wrote that the end of the world could be a “dark but deviously appealing fantasy”, and you were talking about your own experience as a GenX-er during the cold war. What seems soothing about the apocalypse back then?
34:54 IB: The idea that you live at the end of history is incredibly comforting. Even if you don’t know everything that happened in the past. There will be none who follow you. You’ve seen it all either personally or historically. You haven’t missed anything in the project that is human kind.
35:12 BG: That’s FOMO taken to the n-degree, isn’t it?
35:15 IB: Right, I mean the fear of annihilation is a particularly piquant version of the fear of death. It’s about not seeing what comes next for your progeny–for humanity at large. It makes sense to me that there would be some comfort even if it’s a perverse comfort in everyone being together at the end.

Sounds exactly like the same sort of historical apocalyptic “Repent now for the end is at hand” sort of philosophy that a 30 year old Jesus was espousing two millennia ago. And look what happened to that idea. 

Makes me wonder who the Paul of Tarses TikTok is going to be for the next two millennia?