Yes. But I’m sure by now you’ve all heard “but not only for Paris.”
I’m pretty sure the attacks in Beirut wouldn’t have even made global news had it not been for the Paris attacks, which then prompted people to say, Hey, this other thing that’s just as important also happened in Lebanon. Why is that?
Is it because the world in general thinks European lives matter more than Middle Eastern lives?
But stuff like that happens all the time over there, so it’s not news.
Actually, “stuff like that” doesn’t happen in Lebanon all the time:
“The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less. Either that, or that their country — relatively calm despite the war next door — was perceived as a place where carnage is the norm, an undifferentiated corner of a basket-case region. …. A reminder of the muddled perceptions came last week, when Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, declared that ‘if you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.’ That was news to Lebanon’s Christians, who hold significant political power.” (Source: Beirut Feels Forgotten)
Why did Facebook not activate their safety check for people whose loved ones were in Beirut at the time of the suicide bombings? Facebook later saved face by saying the high social activity surrounding the Paris attacks prompted them to activate safety check:
“As for Facebook, it declared that the high level of social media activity around the Paris attacks had inspired the company to activate Safety Check for the first time for an emergency other than a natural disaster, and that a policy of when to do so was still developing.
“‘There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,’ wrote Alex Schultz, the company’s vice president for growth, adding that Safety Check is less useful in continuing wars and epidemics because, without a clear end point, ‘it’s impossible to know when someone is truly “safe.”‘” (Beirut Feels Forgotten)
(Some people also complained that Facebook only offered a profile pic filter of the French flag, but that’s not as a big a deal, in my opinion. Just make your own filter, or do what I did and make your profile pic the image of the Lebanese flag.)
So, if we follow this logic, then the Beirut bombings was barely a news blip in the media. Indeed, many people had no idea it had even occurred until after the Paris bombings.
Why do Arab lives seem to matter less? Even if you do make the assumption that “stuff like that happens over there all the time,” why does that make it any less horrific? In actuality, it should be more horrific. Innocent lives were lost in both Paris and Beirut. Both were tragic events. But the world is only saying Pray for Paris. (To sugarcoat it, it’s like saying Rue’s death in the Hunger Games movie was less tragic because she was played by a black actress… which ties into the whole notion that Black lives matter less, but that’s a whole other topic for another time…)
Everywhere I go, I see the French flag now. Driving around downtown, I saw it waving on a billboard with its accompanied hashtag.
Look, send your love and thoughts to France. But also Lebanon. And Syria. And Kenya (which suffered a similar terrorist attack from al-Shabaab, but no one seemed to notice). And everyone.
Be safe. Be kind.