Solidarité – but with Beirut too

When three people were murdered in a terrorist atrocity in Boston, Twitter went in to meltdown. When 147 students were gunned down in Kenya in April, however, we just scrolled on.

This is something which is not completely irrational, but it should concern us.

"ISIS" also carried out a massacre in Lebanon at the weekend. Where were the Lebanese flags in our profile pics?

“ISIS” also carried out a massacre in Lebanon at the weekend. Where were the Lebanese flags in our profile pics?

Likewise, at the weekend Daesh (or “ISIS”) carried out attacks of unimaginable brutality in Paris and Beirut. The former got almost all the public attention.

This is understandable. More of us have visited Paris and were likely to know people currently in Paris than Beirut. Paris is also more like us – a Western city in an established democracy.

In the case of Paris, we in the West (many familiar with the city) were able to relate better to acts of inhumane brutality but also of astonishing kindness and heroism (and superb journalism too, not least by some of our own). We were genuinely shaken by such fear and terror so close to home in every sense. Of course we connected to it more closely than to the attacks in Lebanon.

However, it is also greatly disconcerting – or, at least, it should be. What we are saying really is either that we place an economic value on life (therefore people killed in the West are more important than people killed on the Developing World); or worse still that we care more about those who are like us. Or both. To emphasise: this is not irrational – but it matters.

The fundamental implication is that if we accept that we care more about those who are close to us or about those whose lives have economic value, we accept that social justice is impossible. Logically, we tell the rest of the world, even the best educated in poor countries, that in fact we do not care about them. They can burn hundreds at a time for all we care. How do we expect them to respond to that?

Worse, how does this notion that we care primarily about those who are like us play out even within our own homeland? Do we care more about those of the same class, or same locality, or same religion, or even same race? Is this not all on the spectrum somewhere? If so, we probably need to address it, at least to some extent.

To be clear, I had hardly noticed Kenya and I probably noted Beirut only because refugees from there were among my childhood friends. I am as guilty as anyone else. However, we do need to ask ourselves what the implications are of who we care about and who we don’t.

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3 thoughts on “Solidarité – but with Beirut too

  1. boondock says:

    Of course a tragedy in a city many of us have been to and know well and only a few hundred miles away is of more interest to us than any of the numerous events happening in cities we havent been to and dont know thousands of miles away. Does that make it right? No but thats how it is. Islamic state also killed 18 people in Baghdad on Friday but you have not mentioned that. Im sure afghan villagers are more concerned about an attack on another local village than Paris does that make them equally guilty, really?. I guess the next time BBCNI report a road traffic fatality in Larne they should bury it amongst all the other global traffic accidents after all they are no lesser a tragedy. I think the problem here is a number of people have gone on facebook for some strange reason to give off about double standards over certain tragedies yet dont find it ironic that they themselves couldnt even be bothered to post or blog about these other tragedies when they happened. The Kenya incident although not huge news was still well reported and you can bet your life on all these facebook pages claiming double standards few if any mentioned the incident at the time. People are also trying to push the notion that only loss of white rich peoples lives are reported which again is cr@p seeing as the victims in France were from all race creed and colour. The truth is desensitisation. Unfortunately bombs and killings in Bagdhad, Beirut etc for the moment have become a regular occurence as oppossed to Paris just like we are not that shocked/bothered anymore when there is a US college campus shooting which usually does involve rich white people. Closer to home during the troubles deaths of British soldiers and suppossed British citizens in Northern Ireland was hardly news in Britain but as soon as the bombing campaign shifted to London it became more of an issue.

  2. realist says:

    Of course we should care more of those closer to us. If we do not, then no-one else will.

    Yes, and this includes race. The mainstream psychological disorder, unique to Whites, whereby White Europeans do not care about their own race is at current rates resulting in the minoritisation of White Europeans in their own homelands within the next half-century. Either have a degree of group solidarity or be replaced by others who do.

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