Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The hierarchy of care

A Turkish friend of mine shared the above picture on FB. And it referring to a real thing, the terrorist attack in Belgium is getting a lot more attention from the international media than all four of the terrorist attacks in Turkey. It is probably getting more than all four of those attacks combined. On tbhe other hand, those Turkish attacks did get some attention. I think each Turkish attack got more attention than, for example, last week's attack in the Ivory Coast.

This is a big world. People care about the places they can relate to and people relate to places for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have been to those places before, or have friends or relatives who are there, or have just imagined themselves going there for whatever reason, Maybe their family roots go back to that place. Or maybe the place just happens to be a place that is viewed as being like where the person currently lives.

The international media is dominated by North Americans and Europeans and the American media is dominated by Americans. A lot of Americans have visited Europe. If they have lived abroad, or someone close to them lived abroad, it was probably in Europe. White America predominantly draws its roots from Europe and white Americans are the ones who still set the terms of what gets attention in the American media. All those things conspire to make violence i n Europe seem more important than violence in other parts of the world.

Plus Turkey is part of the middle east, and the middle east is widely viewed as a chronically violent place, particularly when it comes to terrorism. Terrorist attacks are just not viewed by Westerners as remarkable when they happen in that part of the world, even when they happen in places that Westerners think of as middle eastern but where terrorist attacks do not regularly happen. Europe, by contrast, is viewed as a place that normally does not have a terrorism problem, despite the fact that in it has a fairly substantial recent history of terrorism (putting aside middle-eastern connected incidents like the 7/7 London attacks, in the recent past Europe has had its own indigenous terrorism problem with Basque and Irish separatists, and leftist groups like the Red Brigade or the Baader-Meinhof Group).

I have friends all over the world. I see their social media posts and think about this stuff just about every time there is a terrorist attack. But especially when it happens in Europe and those attacks dominate the news coverage. I don't think there is any solution to the problem. I understand why Americans pay more attention to the places they pay more attention to. And I understand why it bugs the people in other places when they see that no one seems to care as much about them.