One day in May 1974, my mother left work fifteen minutes early to go to a doctor’s appointment. It was a fortunate day to have had her doctor’s appointment, because that day was a day that carbombs went off across Dublin. Her route to the train station took her right through the blast area for one of them, and she missed them by fifteen minutes.
In Paris and Beirut after this weekend, there will be similar stories. And stories that do not have so happy an ending. And that is true across Syria and the conflict zone in Iraq, but we do not hear the civilian casualty counts from the airstrikes of the Syrian regime, Russia, the US, Turkey, France. We are insulated from that horror until explosions rip through the fabric of the city of Paris, and everywhere the English-language news is gleefully horrified at the opportunity to expound.
And racists everywhere seize the opportunity to blame people fleeing this exact sort of violence.
France has bombed Raqqa in Syria in retaliation. France is using the rhetoric of war and revenge. France is doing Daesh’s work for them, in part. Fundamentalist movements cannot be overcome through violence: it is their most fertile recruiting ground. The best revenge would be to react to this tragic event with humanity and tolerance, with love instead of hatred, openness instead of fear.
But that is not what we see.
I’m fairly disgusted with the world right now. Every time I hear the news all I can think is: how many more dead? How many more dead will be added to the tally of tens of thousands? How many more millions of refugees?
In moral cowardice, I avoid the news.