This is one of those times when words mostly just fail me, yet I feel the need to say something. We are living in the midst of some ugly times but truthfully it’s always been an ugly time somewhere on this dusty rock. It’s just that technology now allows us to know with frightening speed just how ugly things are, or does it?
A day after a double suicide attack in Beirut, the world was shook to its core at the horrifying attack in Paris. Immediately there was a call for prayers, condolences, warmth and humanity towards those affected by this heinous act in Paris. Even social media got in on the humanity train with a safety check feature being activated for those in Paris along with a multicolored avatar in the colors of the French flag to let everyone know you are “standing” with Paris. This is all wonderful in the aftermath of this attack on humanity but what about the people in Beirut? Or any of the countless other massacres in the Second World and Third World that leave untold numbers of nonwhite bodies dead or maimed?
In Beirut, at least 41 people are reported to have lost their lives in the suicide attack; reports are that a father named Adel Termos, who had his young daughter in tow, threw his body on one of the attackers and his quick-thinking actions probably saved the lives of many, though this actions resulted in his death and…according to many media reports, the death of his young girl (though subsequent reports and photos seem to suggest she survived). Why didn’t we hear that story until after people pointed out that the attacks in Paris seem to be part of a larger strategy by the Islamic State? My goodness: A man literally saved untold numbers of people in a suicide attack and it wasn’t newsworthy? Considering what passes for news these days, one need not be a media scholar to start connecting the dots.
The media we see and don’t see in this part of the world (the United States and Europe, notably) is tailored to fit a certain audience: white and Western. The standards of all that we consider normal are white and Western. Whiteness has centered itself and well that standard determines if the horrors in Arabic countries are newsworthy or not. The problem is that these divides don’t serve us well; in fact, these divides keep us ignorant, as we learned in the aftermath of the Paris attacks when Conservative right-wing Americans took to the television, radio and Twitter to say the most hateful and asinine things that could make one think that critical thinking went the way of the telegraph in the United States.
Most of us live siloed lives, whether it’s a silo of all whites or all Americans yet the world is larger than our respective silos and as sojourners in this place, we owe it to ourselves to step out of our falsely secure and comfortable cocoons and not allow ourselves to be spoon-fed a diet that discounts millions of people on this rock.
One of the common retorts to the Black Lives Matter movement is that “all lives matter,” yet too many times, the messages we take in says otherwise. If we are going to offer warmth, prayers and nuggets of humanity to those impacted in Paris, let us offer humanity to all who are affected by this senseless war or terror (from far more than just radical Islamists…right-wing white terrorism, for example, is a bigger killer in the United States) that has twisted the words of a tradition and turned it into a ugly caricature.
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