Sunday, November 15, 2015

How much airtime do Syrian deaths get?

So yesterday Paris was hit by a horrible terror attack. Once again, multiple simultaneous, co-ordinated attacks have taken the lives of many and have shocked westerners. Once again, terror has been visited on a cosmopolitan, idyllic, home of arts and culture. People can't believe that it happened and the images of distraught, traumatized victims and witnesses on the TV are jarring and horrifying. There is no justification for this slaughter and the perpetrators should rightly be condemned. There is no justifying what was done and the acts are those of cowards and hateful people.

All that said, the attackers apparently mentioned Iraq and Syria in negotiations at the Bataclan theater. Bin Laden, in his 2002 "Letter to America" stated that the September 11 attacks happened because of anger at the West for privileging the West over Islam and Islamic countries. The sense that Muslims and Muslim countries were the victims of racism and religious bigotry drove Bin Laden to engineer those horrific attacks.

However, the scale of the attack on Paris pales in comparison to the death toll in Syria. Estimates of the death toll in Syria range from 143,000 to 340,000. The low estimate (I hate to use the term "low estimate" with an estimate of over 143,000 deaths) means 83 people have died every day for 4.5 years. The higher estimate means 199 every single day for that same time period. More than a Paris massacre every single day for 4.5 years while the people of Paris or any other western town have gone about their lives, eating, drinking and being merry, in relative peace.

But yet how many people changed their Facebook profile to a Syrian flag? Where's the CNN wall-to-wall coverage of Syria? Where is the Saturday Night Live opening expressing sympathy for Syria?

Westerners hate to see deaths in their own streets, but those deaths Over There have been happening in much greater numbers and without proportionate attention, for a long time. Clearly as long as the victims are Muslim, the deaths are more tolerable.

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