On Nov. 13, the world stood in shock as it received the news that terrorist attacks were underway in Paris. Information kept coming in, and the death toll kept rising — up to 130 — as many websites and public figures showed their solidarity.
Then the contrarians came.
When I say contrarian in this context, I do not mean eloquent and biting intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens, for example. I mean the “terrorism has nothing to do with religion,” “say it louder for the people in the back” and “why does the media …” types. After the Paris attack, these second-rate contrarians did their best to find double standards in our sympathy for the attack’s victims and in doing so made themselves look oblivious and unread.
For example, articles about an attack in Garissa, Kenya resurfaced and went viral after the French attack even though the Garissa attack happened many months ago.
People apparently thought the events in Kenya had literally just happened and were not receiving attention due to the events in Paris.
The irony is painful. People essentially said “What about what is going on in Kenya? Why am I the only compassionate person who pays attention to global events evenhandedly?” In reality, they were the ones who failed to notice the Kenya attack when it first transpired.
Also, something that has always struck me as exceedingly ignorant are sweeping criticisms of “the media.” People say things like, “Why didn’t the media show …” and then go on to list some international affair. The fact is that it’s not at all difficult to access information about salient geopolitical issues from online news sources. My favorites include Reuters and the Economist. Other people like BBC and Al-Jazeera.
But if by “media” you mean “news on the Kardashians” or “Facebook-shared listicles about greek life or loving your sibling,” then you’re obviously looking in the wrong place.
If you call whatever is popular “the media,” then you mustn’t shoot the messenger but rather turn the criticism inward and ask why we value celebrities and sports over international crises. Informative news is out there, and there is nothing to blame but your own negligence if you cannot find it.
And to those who say #prayfortheworld, I would honestly like to know what tune you were singing before the French attacks. If you claim to pray for the world, surely you paid attention to the Lebanon attack when it happened? What about the attack in Turkey? Nigeria? Pakistan? Mali? Egypt? If you didn’t possess an interest before or after an international crisis, it’s insincere and inconsistent to claim you pray for the world in an attempt to convey evenhandedness on the day Paris suffers.
I argue that the sudden interests and superficial compassion for humanitarian issues internationally was a reactive response to Paris. As evidence of this reactive response,
Internet traffic data show that searches for Beirut skyrocketed only after the French attacks, which occurred one day later. In order to avoid more ignorance and promote
knowledge of humanitarian issues abroad, I encourage everyone to read as much news they can on international politics.