Saturday, November 14, 2015


The contrast between the reaction to the Paris attacks and the Beirut attacks from one day before among the people I know is really striking. On the one hand, I totally understand the divergent reactions. Many, if not most, of my people have been to Paris, and probably all at least know someone who has been there. They can imagine being at the sites of the Paris attacks much more than they probably can imagine being at the sites that were attacked in Beirut. And many probably (mistakenly) believe that these kinds of attacks are common in Beirut but not in Paris. (The Lebanese civil war ended over a quarter century ago, but the violence of that conflict is lodged pretty squarely in a lot of Western minds). Also, the Paris attacks were worse in terms of death toll. So there is that.

But on the other hand, it's really hard not to see this as another indication that some lives are just valued more than others. I do think that is part of what is going on too. Horrific violence in the Arab world just isn't seen as all that horrific. But when it happens in "our world", people have no difficulty seeing how awful it is.