Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you’ve probably heard about the dispute surrounding the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The movement Black Lives Matter was criticized and opposed in the form of a movement entitled ‘All Lives Matter,’ which suggested the hashtag #AllLivesMatter be used instead as it is unifying and fair to all.
This issue, while internal and unique to the U.S., is relatable all over the world. It’s a question we all got to ask ourselves- Do all lives matter?
November 2015 was marked by a series of terrorist attacks in three major countries: France, Iraq, and Lebanon. While the coverage of the Paris attacks was incredibly thorough and lasting numerous days, the other two events were nearly absent from the media. People from all over the world condemned the blatant double standard in the coverage of the terrorist attacks. Some media outlets reacted to the backlash and posted on different social media venues condemning the violence and expressing condolences to the victims of all three attacks.
When asked about the difference in coverage of the events that hit the three nations, Lyoka Ledenyova, a fellow YALA program participant residing in Israel, said:
“I personally did read something about terrorist attacks in Lebanon and Turkey, but I agree that it wasn’t as highlighted as Paris or Belgium- in any media and not just Israeli. I’m reading a lot of Russian media, since Russian is my first language, and I have to say that despite the fact that Russia is in good relations with lots of Arab countries, news from there are still not on the front page. The same goes to Northern Africa. That’s why I don’t believe in media that much. It’s all used for politics and propaganda”
Similar to my friend Lyoka, my phone was also bombarded by news concerning the Paris attack, while I didn’t hear about the other two attacks until later. The fact is, this is no surprise. I’m from Morocco, an Arab nation where the majority of the population is Muslim, yet the Iraq and Lebanon bombings didn’t make as much hype as the Paris attack. Some argue that it is a result of colonization and cultural imperialism that we tend to value the western life more than the Middle-Eastern/Sub-Saharan African life. Personally, I blame the media for normalizing death in the Middle East and Africa, thus resulting in selective mourning over equally as tragic events.
On March 2016, another series of terrorist attacks occurred. This time wreaking havoc in the Ivory Coast, Turkey, and Belgium. Guess which two got almost no media coverage? Right!
If the death of certain individuals is more worthy of coverage than that of others, wouldn’t that mean that the lives of some are more valuable than the lives of others?
It seems that the mass media deliberately ignores events that hit non-western nations while rigorously covering similar events if they take place in western nations. This, if anything, should get you to question the truth behind the slogan All Lives Matter. If the death of certain individuals is more worthy of coverage than that of others, wouldn’t that mean that the lives of some are more valuable than the lives of others?
Experts in the field of terrorism and counterterrorism argue that this double standard is a direct result of the fear mongering done by major media outlets through their extensive coverage of terrorist organizations and their anti-western rhetoric, making western nations seem like the primary, and sometimes the only, target of terrorism. However, that isn’t true. According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, the countries hit the hardest by terrorism are actually Middle-Eastern/Arab/Islamic countries. Additionally, according to the United States National Counterterrorism Center, Muslims suffered between 82%-97% of terrorism related fatalities between 2005 and 2010 worldwide.
To show the extent of this highly selective coverage, I would like to point out that according to Wikipedia’s List of Terrorist Incidents for 2016 there were more than 64 different episodes of terrorism that took place around the world in the month of March, including a chemical attack in the Iraqi city of Taza, and a bombing/rocket attack in Masbate, Philippines. Except for the attack in Brussels, all of these incidents went uncovered.
Finally, the question remains, do all lives really matter?