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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bombings in Beirut A Day Before Paris Attacks Get Minimal Coverage

First appeared on Blogcritics.

b1 I ask the people of Lebanon and Beirut to forgive us – all of us in America, Europe, and around the world. A day before the attacks in Paris, bombs went off in a busy shopping district killing 43 and wounding hundreds more. I would have been outraged upon hearing this story – but it was kept on the back burner or maybe completely off the grid.

I only learned about the Beirut story by default – I saw it on Facebook. I cringed at my lack of knowledge regarding the subject, but noted to myself that I hadn’t heard about it on the radio or during my cruising of the evening news channels. The very fact that I can no longer watch one channel for news perhaps says something about me and, indirectly, about the channels presenting the news. There is so much filler, so much banter (I know, this is meant to have us believe these talking heads like each other), and the stories presented themselves are at times very slow moving, inspiring me to hit the remote and try to find something better.

Even though I do not watch the news properly, I should have been able to run across a story about the Beirut bombings, but I did not. The lack of coverage is appalling, and in article in The New York Times we understand how the world's reaction to the Paris attacks only enhances the pain in Lebanon, where no explanation for such a disparity in coverage can ease the pain.
"When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog. “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in THOSE parts of the world."
One can completely understand Dr. Fares’s reaction, and the curious thing is that no one went with this story. Since ISIS claimed responsibility for the Beirut attack, it would seem that would be a leading news story; instead, I didn’t hear about it until today. There is definitely something wrong with this picture.

It isn’t acceptable to ignore a story because of where it happens. Did U.S. news outlets figure this bombing in Beirut was just more of the same in the Middle East? Perhaps it was a case of something more pernicious – the story about ISIS killing other Muslims didn’t seem as important as when ISIS killed white Christians in a European tourist mecca.

b2Have we become so inured to violence in that part of the world? It does matter that this story received minimal if any coverage, and the truth is that the problem with ISIS is not a French problem, not a Syrian problem, or a Lebanese one – it is the world’s problem.

President Obama, reacting to the Paris attacks, rightly said, “This is an attack on all humanity and the universal values we share.” This should be then something that refers to all nations – people of all colors, all religions, and all nationalities. This kind of outrage must resonate across the planet and affect change on every continent, in every country, and for all people.

Indian blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh responded to the disparity in coverage of the Beirut and Paris attacks quite eloquently:
It’s not Paris we should pray for, it is the world. It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings … is not covered in the press. A world in which a bomb goes off at a funeral in Baghdad, and not one person’s status update says “Baghdad” because not one white person died in that fire…
This lack of coverage about this terrible incident in Beirut is an injustice to the Lebanese people. There can be no explanation that makes sense or soothes the pain for the inequity is glaring. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail, succinctly described the situation then that applies now to the world’s predicament with ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
So we are all in this together. That includes Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, China, Russia, France, the U.S., and every nation on earth. It is up to us – all of us – to proceed in a way that says every life matters. That is the only way we can defeat a group like ISIS that has a philosophy that no lives matter – not even those of its own members. We all must believe that peace is attainable in this world. John Lennon once wrote, “War is over if you want it.” Now it is up to us – all of us – to be serious about wanting it.

b3The media owes an apology to the people of Beirut and of Lebanon. That will not bring back those lost in the carnage in its streets, but it will help assuage the pain that the lack of coverage of their story caused. All lives matter – ALL lives – and it’s about time the media embraces that fact and proves it by the stories that are covered.  


  Photo credits: AP, NY Times, EPA

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