Charlotte Mellgard is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. She is majoring in political science with minors in both Corporate Strategy and Spanish. Charlotte contributes as both a writer and marketing director for VPR. She is particularly interested in international conflict and how it affects politics here at home. In addition to VPR, Charlotte participates in the Vanderbilt community through MentorTENNISee, VSG, and as a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
As I stare at my Facebook newsfeed, scrolling through the numerous posts mourning the tragic attacks of Paris, I cannot help but wonder when is enough going to be enough? I remember thinking to myself, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, that France would begin to strongly combat ISIS. In ways it has, throughout this year France has conducted airstrikes heavily concentrated on ISIS strongholds in Syria and, supposedly, strengthened its domestic security. So I, and others, could not comprehend that, less than a year later, Paris would be under siege.
ISIS claims that this is “the first of a storm” of attacks. This statement is eerily reminiscent of a statement released by an Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa, Islamic Maghreb, earlier this year following the Hebdo tragedy, “As long as its soldiers occupy countries such as Mali and Central Africa and bombard our people in Syria and Iraq, and as long as its lame media continues to undermine our Prophet (Mohammed), France will expose itself to the worst and more.” France has certainty been exposed to worse. Though the media has framed ISIS’s newest statement so that people think the oncoming “storm” is directed towards the French capital, in reality, the safety of a myriad of nations, not just Western democracies, is at stake.
Just a day before the attacks in Paris a suicide bomber, associated with ISIS, killed 43 people and injured more the 200 in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. The media failed to heavily publicize the attack. Now one could credit the media’s failure to comprehensively cover the event to the lack of personal relations with the people of Lebanon and its capital. It is easier to mourn an attack that has occurred in a place where you have visited—where you have seen the Eiffel Tower lit up, visited Monet’s Water Lilies, and tasted one of Pierre Hermé’s famed macaroons. It is easier to mourn a place that is known as the “City of Love”, a seemingly impenetrable bubble of food, friends, and beautiful architecture, because you never imagined such hate to occupy such a beautiful place.
But, such lack of publicity is a flaw in our society and is, undoubtedly, to our nation’s disadvantage. The media has, as evidenced by the attacks in recent days, polarized ISIS’s attacks on Western nations and ISIS’s attacks on Middle Eastern nations—as if there is little in common. There are, undeniably, differences within the motivations behind the attacks—the ISIS attacks in Beirut were rooted in ISIS’s opposition to the Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement where as the ISIS attacks in Paris were targeted towards its westernized population. Regardless, however, innocent civilians have been killed and families of all faiths are forced to suffer. In order to combat ISIS the media must heavily cover the attacks occurring in all nations, including Middle Eastern nations, so that the people of the United States and other Western democracies can observe and understand the terror that is daily inflicted by ISIS upon other countries. Right now, many within the United States are ignorant, unexposed to the truth that ISIS does not just terrorize Western nations. If the people of the United States are able, through the media’s coverage, to better understand the mourning and pain taking place right now in Beirut there is little doubt in my mind that they will empathize with the people of Lebanon. With such empathy, there is hope of some form of unity between Western nations and Muslim populations globally – unity that can be directed to defeat ISIS and its destructive nihilism.