Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Deserving

Do I want to say anything about Paris?

No, not really.  I can't find the wherewithal to join the masses of people who choose to keenly feel these deaths of a 129 (or possibly more) victims while blithely overlooking for months the thousands dying in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Burma, Zaire . . . but then, when these things happen, I always seem to be the only person with a memory of the world that actually reaches back before Friday.

I believe it is because many Westerners or First Worlders have an impression that when a woman and her children die in Syria because a French, American or Russian bomb hits the building across the street, that death is somehow deserved because those people are foolish enough to have been born in Syria . . . whereas the death of people in a football stadium in Paris are victims of a greater tragedy because they had the good sense to live in Paris.

In tragedy, geography is everything.  So is coverage and so is public relations.  Google did not create a black ribbon for all those poor little brown people dying in Gilead, L'Abba and Anbar.  But those are vague, unfamiliar names, so fuck those people.  These are people who died in Paris!  A center of civilization!

I don't see any difference between one violent death and another.  If we're going to gnash our teeth and cry for these people, let's take the next step and give a damn about everybody.  We haven't done that.  Instead, we've pissed on a large part of the world with our arms sales and colonial resource rape, our insistence on controlling every government run by people who have less resources than us and we have casually spent the lives of millions of people to make billions of dollars we toss into our coffers with the label, "Entrepreneurism."  We piss on these people and then we sell them guns, then we sell their neighbors guns, then we encourage neighbor to fight neighbor amid a chaos where their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children die every day, then we throw more fuel on the fire by telling them they're dirty and ignorant, unwanted and unimportant, followed by press stories of how much we hate immigrants.  Which are run on global networks every day.

Then some of these sad, miserable, hated, ignorant people with guns sneak into our house and shoot some of our family and we cry out about the indecency of it all.

Yes, it is all indecent.  All of it.  All of us.

But we with the bigger voices and the greater resources will now bellow very loudly for several months (and then again for the next ten anniversaries) about OUR pain and OUR loss and fuck those other people, fuck them, fuck their losses, fuck their world, fuck their resistance to our will and their misery under the official justice wrought through our economic crapulence.

Fuck them.


8 comments:

Montagne Quentin said...

You presume much, Alexis. Many of the things you say are true of course, but your words say that everyone who grieves is ignorant or indifferent to the misery of people far away or deserving, or their misery, except of course, for you who seem to seem to be the only one with a memory. Well, you're not. And like the rest of us, you have no say but your vote - for those who have it- and the distant threat of uprising to keep men of power appropriately afraid of those they govern. And just like for the rest of us, it is not enough, as evidenced by the fact there is no government on Earth that has never committed something you wouldn't be ashamed of. And you have the gall to sneer and pontificate and preach at people for empathizing with those to which they feel a kinship ? All this is indecent indeed, and it is true that this suffering is the wage of greed and oppression visited all over the world by people in power. I may have supported some of them by deed or word. I may have opposed them. That is true of those who died yesterday and those who mourn today. But you don't know, and the conceit that you do makes no more decent than those same people in power that even now are calling for more guns, more cameras on street corners and less due process.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, I have the gall. But you will note, Montagne, that the opinions I give about myself in the piece above do not in any way address any 'innocence,' as you seem to imply.

My 'memory,' as I describe it, is described to reflect my opinion that the Paris attacks change nothing. The problem we have now is precisely unchanged from the problem we faced before; only now, that problem is made muddier by ridiculous assertions about the horror and 'special' nature of these crimes.

These crimes are not special. They are ongoing and incidental - and all this emotional, accusatory language is completely worthless in solving the problem: that ALL people, everywhere, killed by violent attacks, by ANYONE, including us, must be treated with consideration and respect.

That is not the rhetoric spewed everywhere right now, is it? It is all Us and Them. Even you, Montague, have immediately leapt to painting me with the brush, supposing that I care about my innocence versus the innocence of any single person.

I was very clear in the post, but perhaps the language is lost. ALL of us. ALL. All includes me and it includes you. I don't know any other word as inclusive as 'ALL.' If you'd like to offer one, I'll use it.

Montagne Quentin said...

Alexis, I never meant that you gave yourself a pass on responsibility, and indeed never wrote as much. My reproaches were on something different, which I will not reiterate, as I'm more interested by the subject you broached than by its tone and implications.

As such, I posit to you that one cannot possibly empathize with everyone, and it is unfair to scold such a person for that. You can (and in my opinion should) sympathise with their plight, familiarise yourself with the causes of their problems but empathy does not spring from principles, and one cannot decide to feel it, in the same way that one can do what they want, but not decide what they want.

(Also, and I would not think less of you if you'd decided to spare me some of your disgust out of that worry, I did not lose anyone close during the attack.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

I feel the anger and the helplessness as much as anyone.

What I don't feel is the imaginary 'call to arms' this produces.

JB said...

@ Alexis:

Hear hear.

Scarbrow said...

Amen. Where is the "You are my God" button when you need it?

Zrog (ESR) said...

I have long wondered about this, myself. What is the hatred for immigrants other than a lack of tolerance for surface differences, or a "I'll have less for myself", mentality? As long as resource scarcity exists, which it will for as long as humanity doesn't control its own population in proportion to its resource generation and equitable distribution (especially food), then there's going to be conflict, and likely someone's going to die over it.

While I'm sad that nationality and religion become excuses for prejudice and violence, the root cause isn't either of those things: 99.9% of people of any creed will live peacefully if they feel they are being fairly treated, with equal opportunity, and with no one coming along to screw with them.

We are very heavily controlled by media, and we usually don't even notice the one-sided, or at least heavily-slanted stories we are being presented. We think we have "free press", but it really just means that big business, instead of government, directs how things are presented. As an individual, you really have to dig for a complete picture, and remember the history, as Alexis points out.

My main question when I hear these things is: what do the terrorists hope to accomplish? Don't they realize that they too are just continuing the cycle of violence and more violence? I mean, yes, they are angry and want to strike back, but... I dunno. I guess there isn't a solution, and violence is the only way to send a message... even if the response is just more violence. And when the sides are unequal, the response from the underdog can only be "terrorism", which is guerilla warfare by any other name.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, my first reaction to the attacks was, "Oh, what a stupid thing to do, this will only make everything worse."

But given the West's response, open prejudice, hatred, a call for more violence or a harder crack-down, I see both sides doing the same thing. Both sides see the solution as "feel-hurt make-hurt" responses. I think because the Paris attackers see things in terms of "life is so miserable anyway," given that they have little or nothing to live for except their sense of injustice, anger and hatred. I think the West see things in terms of "we lose so little in attacking them" because they have so many resources that the cost in bombs, equipment and expendable soldiers has so very little meaning to the people in authority.

The root cause to all of this is a general sense of things having no value, therefore there is nothing lost in this violence, ON BOTH SIDES. Peace and negotiation have no chance until at least one of the two sides perceives that something CONCRETE exists that deserves preservation. That which both sides are trying to preserve right now are anything but concrete - religion, justice, privilege, revenge, hate, all things that are based on opinion and the other side giving up their opinions in favor of ours.

This will go on until the loss becomes something that both sides can feel - and just now, suicided bombers and remote commanders firing missiles feel NOTHING.