The Morality of Our Selective Interests

Martin LongmanThe worst terrorist attack this year did not happen in Paris on Friday, despite the fact that it was a horrific incident. Yet, though 129 people have been confirmed dead by French authorities — and presumably more will die in the coming days and weeks from the wounds they suffered — the Paris attacks don’t even come close to being the worst terrorist incident this year. It only seems like the worst.

However, in January of this year, over a four day period, a terrorist organization likely slaughtered 2,000 people (no precise count was ever taken), dwarfing the casualties in Paris, and, to be honest, every other terrorist attack that happened in the world this year…

We held no candlelight vigils or church services for the victims of Boko Haram. Our college and professional athletes did not enter our sporting arenas before their games this weekend (or any weekend) carrying the flag of Lebanon to honor the victims of Beirut, as they did with the French tricolor. No one claimed to stand in solidarity with the victims of those massacres. No, their deaths did not arouse in us that same level of anguish and outrage, as did the victims in Paris. The US media certainly spent far less time covering those tragedies, and indeed far less time collectively covering all the other terror attacks worldwide, than it spent this past weekend with its round the clock attention to the events in Paris.

I leave it to you to consider what that means about our society and its moral values.

—Steven D
The Worst Terrorist Attack This Year

20 thoughts on “The Morality of Our Selective Interests

  1. Part of the story with the Baga massacre was that the Nigerian government, with presidential elections coming up, claimed it was far smaller than the NGO numbers:

    “Satellite images of Nigerian towns attacked by Boko Haram show widespread destruction and suggest a high death toll, Amnesty International says.
    They show some 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed in Baga and Doron Baga last week, the human-rights group said.
    Nigeria’s government has disputed reports that as many as 2,000 were killed, putting the toll at just 150.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30826582

    As far as I can tell from the Wikipedia article (which is often a good place to look for follow-ups to news stories, since someone somewhere still cares), the numbers dispute was never resolved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Baga_massacre

  2. I hate to say I think the reason it does not get anyone’s attention in the general media or on social media is because it is so depressingly common and there is little energy to do anything serious about it.

    • Yes, but as I noted in Aeschylus and the Paris Attacks, this stuff is going on all the time. We care when we think the country is one of us. And if there were a Republican in the White House, I wonder how much the Republicans would care about this. It seems they are mostly using this as an excuse to yell at Obama.

      • Pretty much. What will happen if we had a Democratic President who wasn’t as restrained as the current and soon to be one and actually charged one of these clowns with treason?

        • I wonder about that. Or rather, I wonder if things had been reversed, is there any doubt but that the Bush administration would have gone after the Obama administration big time? Republicans are so convinced of their own patriotism that they commonly commit treason.

          • Considering that Clinton’s impeachment was solely due to revenge for Nixon? Same goes for any SCOTUS fights-most are revenge for Bork’s.

            It makes for disquieting thoughts on the next Republican administration.

            • Oh yeah. It is also why the Republicans just get worse and worse. Rather than admit past failings and move on, they become more and more convinced that they did nothing that “the other side” doesn’t always do. In fact, the Clintons murder people, right?

              • Which makes me wonder what would happen if Hillary or Chelsea ever admitted to having had an abortion.

                They don’t want to admit to their own failings and they especially hate it when our side shows them up so often by actually being pretty good at their jobs. So you get Obama being called the Socialist Communist Kenyan Muslim Dictator Hitler Wimp who was best friends with Saul Alinksy and part of the Weatherman while doing an okay job (not great, at first but then who is when they first walk into the Presidency?) by the establishment Republicans when it was merely the Democratic base who were yelling about how bad Bush was.

                • What would it matter if she had an abortion, given she murdered Vince Foster. Oh, that’s right! He was already born; they don’t care about humans after they’re born.

          • There’s this whole dynamic about how fear of the hate-media machine affects Democrats and supposedly neutral news outlets. Clearly al-Jazeera and “Democracy Now” could care less. Does terror of being seen as supporting “them” instead of “us” paralyze the centrist left? Or is it a worry about losing funding? I don’t know what’s going through the heads of editors and writers.

            It’s got to be terrifying that you’re constantly at the mercy of an opponent who won’t bother with verifiable truth, only how immediately outrageous you work can be made to seem. So the whole fun of digging into things — finding stuff that shocks & amazes you — has to be tossed down the garbage chute in most cases before the very power of it is identified by “Pravda” as “Outrage Of The Day.”

            • Well, when “liberal” is represented by MSNBC (who have done a terrible job covering Paris in as much as I have watched it), it isn’t surprising that the conservative side would be totally off its rocker.

            • It is about loss of access and being verbally beat up a lot by the Republicans.

              At least that is what I can tell.

      • Zirin can over the top sometimes with his jock worship, but his heart’s always in the right place, and that’s what matters. Lovely sentiments by him and Goebbert both.

        • I think it is really important to have liberals who write and care about sports. Like you! Of course, your thing is kind of a “liberal” sport. But I don’t usually read Zirin when he’s writing about sports. There have been a couple of important sports/political stories of his. But I can’t remember them at the moment.

          • It’s where I tune him out. He’s a terrific writer; he uses drama building and ebbing in his sentences/paragraphs with consummate skill. And he’s clearly intelligent and extremely principled.

            He does tend to equivocate, say, Palestinian soccer players going on hunger strikes with big-sport superstars putting offhand “I hate racism” comments on Twitter. Not intentionally, I’m sure. It’s just that he’s so good at writing he can’t help building up the drama of his stories for things that really should be treated differently. (It’s nice when big superstars are not assholes, it’s not the same as persecuted people trying to speak out.)

            But his heart is in the right place. He’s trying to argue how sports he enjoys can be a focal point for activism. I don’t buy that, which is why I tune his stories out most of the time. I regard big-money sports as essentially evil, although individual athletes do astound with how rebellious they are towards that giant brain-numbing evil on occasion. I simply don’t think big-money sports will ever be more of a good force than a negative one. If Zirin’s right, and I’m wrong, I’ll celebrate. Until then, I kinda hate sports a ton. Although I do like the oddball characters in sports, the jocks who didn’t beat up on nerds like me.

            • I think it is good have people like him covering sports from that perspective. As I said: there are a lot of liberal sports fans. But you’ve clearly read a lot more of him than I have. To me, he’s most just one of The Nation folk.

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