It’s not yet ten days since I posted a few thoughts on religion and the attacks in Paris. Since then plenty seems to have happened and, at the same time, nothing at all. In the United States there has been the usual number of killings, nothing special: a few children, a few blacks, a few whites and so on. Every day stuff. The politicians have had their election stand say on the Paris attacks and, naturally, tried to turn attention to their own campaign and how they – or their family – have been, are and always will hold the best interests of the country first and foremost.
But something of interest did happen, linked both to terrorism and personal opinions. I was asked outright why I used this particular image on my post and why I hadn’t commented, with an appropriate image, on the downing of the Russian airplane by terrorists. We all know, the comment was, that this plane was destroyed by members of the Islamic State and they have even admitted it, so why not show the same respect for those who died as for those killed in Paris?
It is not that my sympathies lie in any one direction, or that I am placing a value of one person over another. Nor do I make a difference in my mind when it comes to people of one country or another, people of one or another religion, people of different color and so on. I suspect, as well, that I am not the only person who could, quite legitimately, be asked why the flags at half-mast for France and not for Russia.
Photo Source: European Parliament – Creative Commons
It’s not that these are two different situations; both are now known to have been terrorist attacks and both resulted in the unnecessary loss of many lives. It is the circumstances surrounding the event – afterwards – which make a difference here. In Paris it was clear to all from the very first moment that a terrorist attack was taking place, had taken place. It was, with all the images and reports streaming in from the city, impossible to read anything else into the events.
In Russia, however, the possibility of the downing of their passenger jet through terrorism was ruled out almost immediately. Despite thoughts and comments from other countries, from high-ranking politicians – who don’t necessarily know better than anyone else, but still, they were there – and, of course, the claim by the Islamic State mouthpieces that they had done it, Russian officials steadfastly denied that terrorism was involved. The events surrounding the crash moved from the front page and lost prominence, the right time had passed and then the Russian government came out with their findings: the plane was downed through an explosion caused by a bomb in the baggage hold.
It was, however, no longer front page news. The feelings which most sensible people have immediately following such an event had faded. Other things had occurred which took their attention away from this one event. It’s not that the sympathies of myself and countless others were – and are – not there for these victims of a violent and seemingly uncontrollable group of fanatic terrorists, that will never be the case. It’s just that we’d all moved on to the next horror, to the next event demanding our sympathy, or understanding and, for some, our prayers.
- Viktoria Michaelis.