Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

Opinion: Is society numb to attacks in Third World countries?

If you’ve turned on the news recently, you’ve heard about the terrorist attacks that killed close to 150 people in Paris last month. The violence has been linked to Isis, the extremist militant group whose goal is seemingly to cause worldly chaos.

But what about the bomb, thought to have been planted by ISIS, that brought down a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, killing all 224 on board?

And what about the ISIS attack in Beirut the day before Paris was attacked?

Or the Kenya attack in April, where heavily armed attackers stormed a university and slaughtered at least 147 students?

How much media coverage was there about the attacks in Lebanon or the massacre in Kenya?

When Paris was hit, Facebook saw mass numbers of people change their profile pictures to include a French flag overlay. On the day of the attacks, thousands tweeted and posted the phrase “priez pour Paris” (pray for Paris) but not “pray for Beirut,” or “pray for Kenya.”

Why does Paris receive such international support while Lebanon and Kenya did not?

It’s interesting that a search for “Paris attacks” brings up 520 million search results while a search for “Kenya attacks” only brings up about 43 million.

Some may argue that we’ve become numb to terrorist attacks and bombings in countries such as Lebanon and Kenya because they seem to happen so frequently there. Yet all this does is send the message that European lives — the lives of white people — matter more than the lives of non-whites.

Why are we so affected by a terrorist attack in Paris, yet seemingly unphased by one in Lebanon? It seems for the world to show support for a country under duress, it has to be First World. In that regard, it’s more of an “it happened to them (Paris), so it could happen to me,” attitude that sparks mass media coverage and concern.

Is this why so many people joined together in the “je suis Charlie” movement after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year? Is this why thousands have added the tri-color overlay to their profile pictures on Facebook?

One argument might be that we pay more attention to terrorism in First World countries because they are priority-level travel destinations. However, the attacks in Lebanon and in Kenya were still acts of terrorism and still killed innocents.

Watch the news every once in a while. See what’s happening in other parts of the world and consider, for a moment, how you would feel if you lived in a Third World country and saw more world support for countries like France than yours, despite experiencing similar crises. Is it fair to you? No, it’s not. But what are you going to do about it?

—Cailynn Knabenshue