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Paris – tragedy that begets tragedy that begets tragedy that…

November 15, 2015

When I was younger I was more than a wee bit obsessed about de-constructing the media. At some point it became habitual and I stopped consciously thinking about all of the filters I had put in place for whenever I did watch or read mainstream news.

The idea that our western media loves to self-aggrandize itself with the notion that it is “neutral” – that they just give us the facts – or, that they propagandize that the best news comes from a Switzerland-like perch high above the nattering crowds.

But now, we – and by “we” I mean the “we” that we identify as “the west”; the “we” that now identifies us all as French – now we mourn the tragedy that will be forever known as the “Paris attacks”.

And it is a tragedy. A terrible and deep tragedy that has been heard and felt around the world.

My Muslim friends in Toronto, New York, and Indonesia all joined in vigils for the families of the dead. All of them denouncing the attacks – joining the hashtag #notinmyname.

But there is another – several – tragedies at play here.

On the same day as the Paris attack, two ISIS suicide bombers also walked into a busy Beirut market area and killed themselves, at least 45 people, and wounded hundreds.

Yet, on the evening news, there was no mention of it.

(Or, what about the 148 (142 of them students) killed in a terrorist attack earlier this month in Kenya? Where was the news? Where was our outrage?)

The Globe and Mail had a good 5 full pages dedicated to the Paris attack – Beirut was a 1/2 page story buried deep in the paper. (Admit it, while Paris is visceral to you, Beirut is little more than a “meh”.)

That Paris would be considered “just another day” in Iraq is also not mentioned.

And this Sunday morning, CBC Radio’s Sunday Morning Magazine host and bow-tied plasticine liberal Michael Enright waxed on about “how could this happen to the city we all love?”, and “are we at war?”, “with whom are we at war with?”, and “what are we going to do about this barbaric act of terrorism?” That Enright was trembling with despair and seething with reactionary revenge seeped from my speakers.

Global News wants Prime Minister Trudeau to re-consider his decision to pull our jets out of the Syrian civil war, and we should also rescind our decision to take in Syrian refugees. As if, in the words of John Stewart, our politics are not based on higher beliefs, but are merely a hobby we amuse ourselves with.

Other news sources told me that Pope Francis denounced the attacks, but no where was I told that Muslim spiritual leaders also denounced the attacks.

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised/irritated that our mainstream media perpetuates the notion of “why” would “they” attack “us” – as if, we – the west – are purely benevolent democratic societies where human rights, philanthropy, and good Christian common sense determine all of our foreign policy decisions…for we only want to bring peace and love to the world…and only The Barbarics would reject our intercessions.

Let us ignore that France, Britain, Canada, Russia, and the U.S. are blasting the shit out of their former colonies in the Middle East – for God only knows what reason. (Let’s start with perpetuating regional instability, maintaining control of oil, Islamaphobia, to name but three.)

And in the process radicalizing/traumatizing 1,000’s of young men and women, who have watched their families be blown to smithereens – who psychologically snap, and want some sort of revenge. I have worked with teenaged Afghan boys, who tell the most horrid tales of western violence and the loss of family, limbs, sanity – who, have dark and deep and unfocussed thoughts of violent revenge.

Just last week the US military blew a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Syria off the map (and not for the first time).

How do events like this not radicalize family members? 250,000 people, who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 are now dead in Iraq – twice as many injured – exponentially more traumatized.

We, the west, have propped up dictators all through the region for the last 150 years. We supply arms to all sides in regional conflicts.

Rather than saying “how could this happen to us?”, maybe it would be better to understand how the mainstream media manufactures our consent in perpetuating war, and ask the fundamental questions “what has been our role in this war?”, and “how do we move towards peace?”


P.S. There is a brilliant de-construction of the Paris attacks done by one of Michael Enright’s guests this morning – Nancy Huston – who refused to pander to his hysteria…

You can listen to her segment:

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 16, 2015 12:24 am

    Great blog sherwood. Perhaps a follow-up on how such tradgedies real and invented have been used time and time again to reinforce and stoke up the moneymaking war machinery. ie Gulf of Tonkin, 911, shooting on Parliment hill, the Reichstag Fire, etc.

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