I don’t want to diminish the tragedy of the ISIS attacks in Paris. It was terrifying to watch coverage of the event and read about the aftermath. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like for victims, witnesses and French citizens in general. Still, I can’t help but wonder; would people have known about these attacks if they weren’t in a Western European country? Would they have cared?
I can’t say whether ISIS is a personal threat to the U.S., but I do know that the average person isn’t focusing on that issue. Instead, people are arguing about whether Muslim people should be allowed to immigrate now, or about not labeling all Muslim people as terrorists. They’re wrapped up in identity politics, all the while ignoring the fact that there are Muslim people suffering at the hands of ISIS.
The suicide bombing attack in Beirut happened the day before the attack in Paris. It only really began to gain coverage afterward, as if to amplify sympathy for victims of ISIS.
Some people want to cry racism, but that’s not the reason nor the issue. The reason the earlier attack didn’t get as much coverage is because it’s seemingly ‘okay’ for terrorists to terrorize their own people. Nearly 60 percent of Lebanon’s population is Muslim. Lebanon borders Syria, which has a Muslim population of 90 percent. Many immigrants to Lebanon are Syrian, and most of them are Muslim. Whether or not the sheer proximity is what motivated the attacks is irrelevant. It’s not news that ISIS will kill locals just as easily as they will foreigners. It’s just not as scary or sad to the American viewer when Muslim people die.
The ethnocentrism of U.S. media is thinly veiled under an appearance of cultural awareness. But fear-mongering instead of reporting on an actual, ongoing crisis doesn’t inform the people.
The problem is people trust the media to tell them things, important things. If they’re repeating the same thing over and over, in headlines and scroll bars and commercial breaks, then it starts to seem important, because if something was more important it’d get airtime. Even if something is reported late, it loses emotional significance to more recent or ongoing events.
The news isn’t here to educate people, it’s there to get views. It’s not aiming to make sense, it’s aiming to make money. It’s there to polarize and start arguments and to influence opinions, but make people feel like they came to the conclusions on their own.
The media can’t agitate the masses with something that’s too distant from the audience. If there’s too many degrees of separation, the viewer can’t feel the same empathy, because they can’t put themselves in the place of the other person. It won’t upset them enough if they don’t feel like it’s their problem.
That’s a problem. ISIS is not less of a threat or a destructive force, just because they kill people nearby. It actually makes them more formidable if they can subdue the local population and exert their influence there.
As long as terrorism is overlooked just because the perpetrator and the victim have the same religion, innocent people are going to be killed.
This is important. ISIS isn’t looking for a truce or for compensation or for reconciliation. There’s no way to get them to leave particular people out of their path of destruction, no way to convince them that the fight should be between them and the people actively targeting them.
I know that the idea behind containment of ISIS is to keep their numbers from rising and their realm of influence from expanding, but terrorists can’t be quarantined into a country of innocent people. If the innocents don’t die from outside efforts to subdue terrorists, then they’ll be killed by the terrorists themselves, unless they join them.
ISIS sees Muslims who are uncooperative just as much as their enemies as Americans. Everyone who isn’t an ally of ISIS is a potential target to either convert or attack. Their crisis should not be denied media coverage that could inform public opinion. Their loss is no less relevant than losses closer to home.