Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"What, No 'I, too, Am A Russian Ambassador'?" Why Reactions To This Political Murder Are Different

Something odd I've noticed: After an act of terrorism (or other highly publicized egregious act of politically motivated violence), we customarily have a hashtag or a display-pic filter showing solidarity with the victim - indeed, often going so semi-ludicrously far as to claim that we "ARE" the Victim. (I'm sure we all remember #JeSuisCharlie etc.)

And yet, in the wake of a Russian diplomat being fairly pulverizingly pistol-mortem'd at a photography exhibition ... memes aside, I see nothing.

Why the difference? What's at odds here? Perhaps it's an artefact of power - a figure of state, rather than a comparatively minor magazine publisher. Maybe that's why there's a more overt lack the latter-day symbology of empathy here.

But I have another theory: it's that the usual sorts who'd be bending their brains to generating the relevant flag-filters or attempting to come up with semi-witty hashtags aren't doing so ... because they do not like Russians. Because they're implicitly on the side of anti-regime fighters in Aleppo (and therefore, as a side-point, implicitly on the 'side' of the off-duty policeman doing the shooting - although perhaps that isn't quite relevant to their thought-considerations).

It's a curious thing - where the lines of "all human life is sanctified' end or are crossed for some people. They had no trouble 'self-identifying' with the publishers of an outright and avowedly Islamophobic magazine, yet it's several bridges and the Bosporus too far to do likewise with a Russian diplomat who's played a key role in brokering this weeks' Aleppo evacuation ceasefire.

Either way. It's time to stop pretending that the people coming up with these token gestures of social-media solidarity and popularizing them are doing so because they have an unbiased interest in "human life" or "anti-terror".

Instead, - it is as it's always been: just another way to show 'solidarity' with power, and the 'right' side of a narrative.

ADDENDUM: Since drafting this piece, I've become appraised of rather vitriolic commentary coming out of the United States about this incident. In specia, articles like this one which attempt to cast the shooter as a 'hero' (and, for that matter, the Russians as "Nazis").

If this is, indeed, the dominant lense through which liberals are now choosing to view both these sad events and the broader Russian role in the Middle East all up ... then it's presumably pretty easy to explain why we're not seeing the usual outpouring of social media sympathy nor solidarity for the aggrieved party.

It has long been said that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" (an aphorism which appears to have become daily, hourly reality when dealing with the well-armed implements of geopolitics in Syria).

My concern given the above-linked article is that a number of 'liberal' opinion-setters still annoyed about the combination of alleged Russian interference in the recent US Elections, and the ongoing 'usurpation' of the US's role as liberal-intergovernmental 'World Police ... may start to get increasingly cavalier in their cautious enthusiasm for just exactly this sort of political violence.

Provided that the targets and the victims are Russians, of course. 

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