- I am saddened by the news of what happened in Paris. I cannot help but feel empathy for the victims and families of the victims. The attacks reminded me of the ones in Mumbai. Paris is not the only tragedy I have been upset by, nor will it be the last one.
- I learnt about the attack when my sister posted on our whatsapp group asking if our cousin who lives there is okay. I checked Facebook soon after. It is a reflection of the people I am friends with, or the ones that are show up on my newsfeed anyway, that my wall was flooded with people reminding us that refugees are not to blame, that the state should not crack down indiscriminately, that neoliberal US policies are ultimately to blame. I had not even seen anyone suggesting that refugees were to blame at that time, though I’m sure someone would/did eventually. However, I have come to feel uneasy about these standard intellectual responses: a) The timing and how they immediately truncate the assimilation of shock with the reminder that we have to intellectualize. b) The unimaginative nature of them – how they repeat the same counter-discourse every single time. Part of being in academia is thinking up something new. But the articulation, down to the repeated use of neoliberal, is the same every time. c) The whataboutery. (but what about this and that?). Many of these people who are asking what about Beirut or Lebanon, never publicized Beirut or Lebanon themselves, so they too are not that far off from the empathizing only with Paris because they remembered Beirut only in relation to Paris. I hope not, but that’s how it looks when I never see Beirut on your timeline but suddenly Paris happens and it’s all about Beirut. Someone termed this “tragedy hipsters” and while I agree the motivation for this response is rooted in the good intention to critique, it increasingly seems to be to be the other side of those that selectively mourn deaths in first world countries.
- I am impatient with those changing their profile pictures into a tricolor. V said to me: “This is not about Paris. It is about terrorism.” If Facebook wanted an icon, it could have a more general one, even if it had to choose Paris as its launching point. People could also show sensitivity to those they did not mourn by not going overboard in their selective mourning. On the other hand, academics can also be sensitive in their critique.
- I am sad to see Muslims yet again have to do #notinmyname posts or risk getting called out as terriers themselves. Can it not be taken for granted that people don’t support terrorist attacks unless they say they do?
- I think there needs to be a complex assessment of why people mourn some deaths and not others. Maybe it is not to do with life but with place. That certain places stand for ideals such as the ability to speak freely and when these citadels are threatened they threaten even those in places where these freedoms are not enjoyed because they are aspirational. That when death in certain places or regions become routine people cannot mourn them with the same intensity because then they might be able to even get out of bed in the morning.
- This article uses Judith Butler’s concept of “precariousness”. To recognize precariousness is to recognize the vulnerability of each life and the value of protecting it, but we have different recognitions for different people, what she calls “precarity”. How to combat it? She suggests shifting our frames of reference. The thing is, the lives perceived as more precarious (French) are probably in reality less at risk than the ones that are perceived as less so (those in the Middle East). I think this is a clue. When people’s lives are constantly at risk, other people do not have the energy to track them, they suppress the knowledge and only express shock when a life that is relatively secure is threatened. This is shitty, but it doesn’t necessarily mean one actually values other lives less. Maybe.
- I am not sure I am right here, but I think labelling everyone who mourns Paris a fool in love with the first world is not very imaginative.