World leaders stage a photo opportunity in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Front row, left to right: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU President Donald Tusk, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
As the refugee crisis intensifies, not even a new round of pictures of drowned children could squeeze a drop more sympathy from Europe’s political elite. The drawbridges are being raised. Thus far, Europe has barely lifted a collective finger to alleviate the misery it has helped to create in the Levant, and even those suffering few who have managed to squeeze through the barbed wire gates now face persecution and suspicion from their apparent saviours. There is no more room at the inn, we are told, and what little room is left is certainly not for people who don’t share our culture, our religion, or our skin colour.
Scouring media reports in the face of terror attacks perpetrated by Arabs or Muslims, and attacks by white people and Christians, and you’d be forgiven for thinking there was some qualitative difference between the two. Attacks by ethnic minorities or Muslims are universally branded as terrorist attacks in both initial breaking news reports and opinion pieces, sometimes before even the most basic facts are known, whereas terror attacks by white Christians, especially in the U.S., do not receive the same treatment in language nor attitude, neither in initial reports or reflections down the line.
(Just a handful of the racist and Islamophobic Twitter responses to American Sniper)
Set to be the highest-grossing war film in U.S. history, American Sniper is about Chris Kyle, a real life Navy SEAL sniper who holds the unconfirmed record for most kills on the job. The film documents his four tours in Iraq right up until he returns home for the final time, only to be shot by a fellow soldier who suffers from PTSD.
(The six front marchers, left to right: Binyamin Netanyahu, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk, Mahmoud Abbas)
You probably saw the headlines about world leaders coming together, locking arms, and leading the march down the streets of Paris in the picture you can see above. The march was too show support for the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, who were killed in what many are calling “France’s 9/11”. Turns out they weren’t ‘leading’ anything and the whole thing was a carefully staged photo-op, but its power and perfunctory message nevertheless inspired a lot of coverage.