I read an article about how the West doesn’t show the same attention to terrorism in places like Iraq and Bangladesh than it does to France (the whole je suis paris thing, the flags, etc). On one hand, I totally get that. Why is everybody so aghast about terrorism in France and the US, but when there’s terrorism in Mali or Tunisia, not much of anything?
I think there’s four reasons. The first and most simple is just that a country full of Europeans being attacked is clearly going to resonate with more with Europeans or Americans. It’s a matter of likeness. It’s got to do with putting yourself in that situation. For instance, I simply cannot put myself in Bangladesh. It just doesn’t work. I can’t imagine being a Syrian. That just doesn’t compute. Not to say that makes it okay, because obviously it does not. More, I mean to say, similarities make the horror much more visceral.
There’s also a matter of scale and method. A gunman in a crowded place is viciously effective. The attack on the Bataclan is what we remembered the most. The attack on Pulse in Orlando. We don’t as much remember the smaller attacks that happened on the same day as the Bataclan attack because they weren’t nearly so terrible. Now, in that regard, the terrorist attacks in Turkey and Iraq are on par with the attack on the Bataclan.
That brings us to the third part. It’s difficult for most Westerners to distinguish between Turkey and Iraq. Sure, you and I know that Turkey is a very, very different country. For instance, Turkey is full of Turks and some Kurds. It’s not full of Arabs. Syria? Many Arabs and also some Kurds. That’s literally the first thing that comes to mind. The differences beyond that are diverse and expansive. But my point is, the attacks on Turkey didn’t have the same reaction because it’s harder for most Americans to distinguish Turkey from the other areas of the Middle East.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s move on to the fourth part: the most important difference between an attack on Iraq and the US is merely one of repetition. Ever since the early days of the US occupation in Iraq, there’s been tons of suicide bombings. The amount of terrorism in Iraq has numbed us. It’s impossible to be too shocked. If Iraq didn’t have any more terrorist bombings, I’d be pleasantly surprised. But that’s absurd. We all know there’s going to be more terrorism in Iraq. It’s going to be a long time before that’s fixed.
And there’s Bangladesh. The assassination of the bloggers shocked and concerned me. I was horrified that progressives were being targeted. Then came the massacre at the cafe and now a shooting a festival. We’re running into that repetition thing again. The more it happens, the less notable and the less shocking it is.
So, to the irritated and lonely people across the world wondering why the West is silent, there’s four reasons why. A few more attacks in Paris and it’ll be nothing more than a news item. It’s a sad excuse, I know, but that doesn’t mean that people in Europe and America don’t care. If nothing else, I care, I know which country is which, and I’m with you guys.