Munich, Kabul, Manbij: the calculus of carnage


Photo by L.C. Notaasen, published under Creative Commons license

Yesterday, an eighteen-year-old with a Glock pistol shot and killed nine people in a mall in Germany. Yesterday, a suicide bomber targeted a protest in Kabul and killed at least 80 people. The ISIS bomber targeted Shia Muslims, members of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority. Last Tuesday, an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria killed families who were fleeing ISIS. The exact number of dead is disputed – 56? 85? 160? 212? The families, who included many young children, were fleeing ISIS when the coalition bombers mistakenly targeted them. Guess which of these three stories got the bigger headlines?

Pain showed through in the article filed by Washington Post reporter Max Bearak on Thursday:

“Is it possible that if the media paid more attention to such atrocities, there might be a greater sense of outrage and urgency? That something like this wouldn’t seem so routine? Because it isn’t, even if hundreds are being killed in Syria’s civil war every day.”

Let’s hear it from those people loudly proclaiming that all lives matter. Let’s hear their concern for the victims of terrorism and war in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Ethiopia, in Pakistan, and around the world.

And while we’re at it, let’s hear it from the major news media. Let’s hear reporting and headlines that give as much weight to Asian and African lives as they do to lives lost in Europe and the United States.

As painful as these  stories are, they deserve our attention. These victims of violence deserve our prayers or our protests or our votes — whatever we can devote to stopping the violence and hatred, the wars and deaths. For the sake of our common humanity, we cannot turn away.


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