I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris. And, while browsing on the internet, you are bombarded with millions of people voicing out their reactions to what happened in Paris. Ranging from adding the colours of the French flag to your Facebook profile picture to President Obama mentioning that it was an ‘attack on all humanity and the universal values we all share’. The world is turning blue, white and red for this Paris attack and yet we turn a blind eye to some of the other events that have led to the deaths of hundreds. You turn on the tv now and all you see is about the Paris attacks, and yet where were the mass reactions to the attacks in Beirut (13th November) or even the 224 victims who died in the Russian plane crash?
You log into Facebook now and there’s even a safety check for those in Paris. Where was this for Beirut after their bombing? This safety check feature in Facebook first became prominent in the aftermath of the disaster in Japan in 2011. What happened in Paris was definitely a tragedy, but what happened in Beirut was also a tragedy. The fact that Facebook neglected to offer a safety check for the civilians in Beirut is inevitably suggesting that the deaths in Beirut mattered less. The Paris attack happened 9 months after the incident in Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters, but Beirut has been plagued with suicide bombings.
All the news are outraged at what happened to Paris. World leaders have spoken out, condemning what happened. But our outrages are selective. Where was the worldwide outrage over the ‘accidental’ bombing of Kunduz hospital? Obama went on tv to apologise for “mistakenly” striking the MSF hospital. According to the director o Doctors without Borders ‘the hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the coordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict”. Yet we did not see any worldwide outrage in this.
Aren’t we all humans? Obama is prepared to “do whatever it takes to bring these terrorists to justice and go after any terrorist network that go after our people”. What are our people? Who has the right to be humanised? Foucault presents the idea that the subjects are constituted within a historical framework, in which the media today is still very much shaped and affected by the events of the past. The mass broadcasting of the Paris attacks highlights the power structures in a society in which how knowledge is controlled by a particular group of people.
By being selective, we are presenting the idea that some people matter more. Where were the world leaders when Beirut was attacked? The world is interconnected, and yet it’s so easy for countries to take sides. It’s so easy for us to adopt an us versus them mentality. The death tolls just keep on rising and yet we never seem to learn. Amid all this chaos it has become evidently clear that we don’t care about everyone. People were blown apart in Beirut on the November 12th, and yet, we don’t see any world leaders rising to condemn, we don’t see the global outrage, we don’t see any statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people. Some individuals have used the attacks in Paris as an example to highlight their disapproval for the refugees coming into Europe, and yet, this feeling is something that these refugees feel every day.