It isn’t that the requiems over Paris are overwrought. It hasn’t been a week yet & the horror deepens. But soon they’ll be going on longer than grief over the school shootings at Sandy Hook. No one wants to sound the cynic but the selective character of grief has a political character: not just that white lives are more valued & terrorism thought more shocking in Paris than Beirut, but that more poignant the grief depending on who the terrorists are.
There are French & Russian war planes over Raqqa, Syria–a city where 220,000 people live. This is being applauded by some of those weeping over Paris. If they don’t believe the lives of Arab peoples matter, they can just say that outright–because their selective requiems betray.
It isn’t that we don’t all grieve for Paris. We’re numb from grief from decades of unending war. There are antiwar activists that go back to WWII, Korea, Vietnam, & many wars too brief to remember like Panama & Grenada. There are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Kashmir, Palestine, Yemen. Those who only grieve for Paris & cheer on or ignore these others don’t feel grief at all but just a sentimental version of ‘my country right or wrong’ patriotism–& that’s a very different thing. If we misjudge, they can stop cheering on the bombers over Raqqa