On Friday night, hands jumped to mouths and tears rimmed wide eyes as screens relayed the chaos and carnage that enveloped the City of Love.
News flooded in of attacks by ISIS all over Paris – at restaurants, a concert hall, a stadium. Bodies lined streets as panic took over and the death count rose to 129, with over 350 injured. A night of laughter and celebration had turned into one of slaughter and despair, in the deadliest attack France has had since WWII.
But the blood had yet to dry when people took to social media and used what had happened to air unrelated grievances. In a time when respectable solidarity is all that should’ve been exhibited, some instead decided to politicize the tragedy, utilizing Paris’ pain as a means to further personal agendas.
Within hours of the first news of the killings, Ann Coulter tweeted:
Others also thought to exploit Paris by reclaiming old, unconnected arguments, like Newt Gingrich:
France 24’s anchor Mark Owen remarked on the offensive tweet, saying, “So he’s using this atrocity to make his point that people should be able to carry guns basically…Newt Gingrich, shame on you.”
We live in an era when anyone has an open platform to publish what they want – this means that people can too quickly spew whatever rant or rage they wish to, with less facts and more hot button emotions.
Hearts had only begun to break and loved ones had only started to become notified when Judith Miller tweeted:
What is gained by tying the recent issues of college campus free speech to the massacre in Paris? So many injustices pale in comparison to Friday’s bloodshed, but aligning them to Paris in order to belittle them is an injustice in and of itself. But by the same token:
It is distasteful to bridge homegrown political issues, like gun control and immigration to what happened in Paris. There are many variables in these arguments that render them not so cut and dry.
Besides those who wrote to forward self-serving ideas, many also displayed outrage at the great media attention and support Paris received, when Beirut experienced an ISIS bombing that killed 43 people just the day before.
Care and support should be showed to all who are suffering and need it – but making the argument about what gets covered and posted is a waste of breath. We shouldn’t take away from one to shed light on the other. Tragedy is tragedy and it’s not a competition. And when the French flag filters on Facebook dissipate, don’t let your sense of solidarity go along with it.
As speaker and author Sayed Ammar Nakshawani put it:
“My brother died in Paris. My sister died in Beirut. My daughter died in Afghanistan. My son died in Baghdad. This is how heartbroken I feel. There is no need to say that you care only for one country and not another, and there is no need to say that one tragedy is worse than another. When one person dies, we have all been killed.”
During a time of mourning, cut the arguments out and don’t muddle the true problem. Any anger concerning policies or media coverage should be redirected towards our common enemy – the heartlessness that is ISIS. That’s where the discourse should remain.
I’m a staunch advocate of free speech but I question the timing of these rants – I question the political motives behind them and the insensitivity that drives them. I also question those who make blanket statements about an entire religion and not just its radical sector.
We’re living in a time of horrific acts carried upon innocent people, a time that is scary and deeply saddening, marked by hatred and evil. Because of that, we must show a united front against acts of inhumanity, a front that is compassionate and loving. The best way to combat hate is to perpetuate an attitude of tolerance and sympathy amongst one another. As the well-known adage says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”