Massacres are not only a first world problem
Empathy is the single most important human emotion.
Thankfully, there has been a great outpouring of empathy towards the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre and their families.
After the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the victim’s funerals, a petition with over 50,000 signatures called for the White House to act in defense of the victims.
There are, of course, victims who are not the recipients of empathy, who do not merit overwhelming international press coverage. They are the victims of America’s crusade against ‘terror’.
It is not merely a war, but a crusade infused with patriotism and nationalism that equal the holy zeal of the bloody crusades, centuries earlier.
According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, President Obama has authorised over 300 drone strikes in Pakistan to date, with little indication of abandoning the barbaric policy. An estimated 3,398 have been killed, nearly 1000 of them, civilians.
It’s no surprise really. Drone strike tactics include bombing not only funerals but also rescue workers, as they pull people from underneath rubble.
In Pakistan, 176 children have been murdered by drone missiles at America’s whim, with more in Yemen and Somalia.
Where is the staggering international media coverage? Where is the national call for military regulation? Where is the outrage and the tears for these children?
Are we to understand that it is acceptable to murder children in the name of national security, or is it as George Orwell famously phrased: Some are merely more equal than others?
President Obama held a teary press conference expressing his sympathy for the victims of Sandy Hook and their families. He spoke of reacting not as a president, but as a father.
Without pushing for gun regulation or ceasing drone strikes, it rings rather hollow, doesn’t it?
Occasionally, the internet produces images and articles of stunning poignancy, and often these commodities go unremarked.
But the photo of Pakistani children holding a candle-lit vigil for the victims of Sandy Hook currently doing rounds on Tumblr and Reddit is simply too important to ignore.
Despite America’s part in bombing homes, funerals, children and friends, Pakistani children still empathise with Americans. They recognise a common humanity and offer their sympathy.
In 2009 Obama said, “I want to make sure that people understand [that] drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties, for the most part they have been very precise strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates.”
However, we know this simply isn’t the case.
Is it so much to ask that America extends a scrap of empathy towards the victims of their crusade? To the survivors who have lost friends, to orphans, or to the parents who have lost their children?
Now is the time for progress and reform. Now is the time to demand gun regulation. Now is the time for abandoning abominable military strategies, and instead foster greater awareness and empathy within the international community.
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