The Wellesley News team dedicates this editorial support of the victims of last week’s attacks in Baghdad, Beirut and Paris and acknowledges the tragedies and demonstrations surrounding these events. Simultaneously, we stress our support of refugees in the European migrant crisis and the positive role that religion plays in the international community and in our own student community. As a media source in a Western institution, we are aware and concerned about the bias with which the Western media has approached the aftermath of these events.
The attacks in Paris have attracted large amounts media attention while countless of previous attacks of similar or worse magnitude around the world did not attract the same amount of media coverage, political action or passionate responses on social media. We offer our support as a fundamental act of empathy; however, we recognize the importance of tangible and intangible action.
With the harrowing events that transpired last week came outpourings of support on various social media platforms, most notably on Facebook. French users were given the option to mark themselves as “safe” in order to quickly update friends and family of their status. Yet, people located in areas such as Beirut or Baghdad were not afforded the same courtesy.
As a result, numerous statuses asserted that Facebook, like many media sites, was prioritizing one tragedy over another. Additionally, users were universally allowed the option of placing a filter of the French flag over their profile picture in a show of solidarity with the nation, angering many who argued that similar options should have been given for Lebanon, Iraq and Kenya.
Supporting far-away communities in pain is an act of empathy and one that we should practice, but as a highly-educated community we have the responsibility to approach this tragedy from an informed perspective. We spend large amounts of our time learning — we cannot claim ignorance about tragedies other than the Paris attacks.
By subscribing to a variety of news sources and reading less US-centric media outlets such as BBC or Al-Jazeera, we will better educate ourselves and those around us regarding world events. Although social media outlets do offer large amounts of information mainly about the attacks in Paris, there has also been a lot of resistance to the media’s bias and an effort to bring attention to the attacks in Baghdad and Beirut. We need to actively speak against the notion that we value Western lives more than non-Western lives, and we need to resist the notion that we are ‘used to’ violence in places like Beirut and Lebanon and are therefore not as shocked by the tragedies in these cities.
At the same time, we must be mindful of personal healing and allow others to cope in their own ways. Pain is not quantifiable, and it is important to remember that mourning is not a competition. Changing our Facebook pictures or Tweeting about recent events serves as a show of support but is not solidarity.
While not everyone feels knowledgeable enough about an issue to choose an article to share or craft a status about the situation, it is imperative that we all educate ourselves and our communities. Currently, this absence of education is perpetuating Islamophobia, even in the Wellesley community, and wrongfully opposes the immigration of Syrian refugees. Though Muslims are not responsible for these acts of terrorism, they are speaking out against the blatant and gross misuse of their religion. Yet, internalized hatred has resulted in the burnings and defecation of many mosques. It has led to hate crimes and terroristic threats; the Facebook page of the Islamic Society of Boston Culture Center recently received a post advocating for the burning of the mosque.
In light of this tragedy, it is the responsibility of each and every one one of us to pay attention to those voices or seek them out if you bear prejudice. Moreover, since 9/11, 750,000 refugees resettled in the US; not one of them has been arrested for domestic terrorism. Further, it takes 18-24 months to vet a refugee, and even more for Syrian refugees. The calls to stop immigration of people who are fleeing from terror and asking for freedom is both sensationalist and ignorant. We cannot let international values of freedom and tolerance be compromised by an act of terror; we cannot let the terrorists, who seek to cause mistrust and alienation among minorities, to win.
Indeed, we cannot encroach on anyone’s grieving but we do ask that Wellesley do more than change the filter on their Facebook profile. We ask that you do what is necessary to take care of yourself, and if you can, be active in this time of crisis. You can start today.
Attend the vigil for global solidarity hosted by Slater International and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life in the Multifaith Gathering Space at 12:30 PM. Show solidarity for people of color and join the Ethos’s Taxi Cab 1969: Demonstration Opposing Administrative Complacency toward Black Issues at 1:15 PM at the Campus Center. Above all, know that everyone deals will tragedy in their individual way, but that we are all connected, stand together in solidarity and always must seek knowledge and understanding.