Lounging by the pool while enjoying the finest cocktails and the presence of young women in tight bathing suits, the evening party at the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus was just beginning. The elite were laughing and mingling, examining one another while a juiced-up version of Adele’s “Someone Like You” played over the pool deck. One of the women splashed the crystal water onto her tan oiled body. She leaned back and ran her fingers through her dark black hair saying, “The opposition wants to kill us, they’re even plotting it on Facebook.” With a roll of her eyes and a snarky smirk, she want back to splashing and mingling with the rest of the elite regime loyalists. Behind her, smoke billowed in massive columns like small mushroom clouds as the city of Damascus burned, smoldering ash rising up into yet another dark night.
For more than 17 months, the country of Syria has faced unspeakable horrors. The violent government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters as well as anyone disloyal to the ruthless reign of President Basher al-Assad has been hunted, slaughtered, gunned down or disgustingly tormented in medieval torture chambers. A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that Syrian intelligence agencies run these torture centers throughout the country. There, those detained are beaten with batons and cables, burned with acid, raped and sexually assaulted, and their fingernails ripped out. A 15-year-old girl was repeatedly raped for ten days after her family was killed. Mice were inserted into her vagina resulting in uterine and blood infections. But for Syria, it was just another night.
While thousands waited in line for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the epic finale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, more families were slaughtered and gunned down in Syria. Although the shooting massacre in Aurora, Colorado was incredibly tragic and senseless, why is it that twelve American lives mean far more than the lives of over 19,000 Syrians?
The story went viral within minutes and the next few days centered on the gunmen, James Holmes and his victims. Compared to likes of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, just 25 miles from Aurora, the massacre shocked and saddened America, especially on a night that was supposed to be an exciting premiere of one of the most anticipated movies of the decade.
One post that was picked up by Instagram, read:
He was a lone gunmen. It wasn’t a political affiliation, it wasn’t “violent video games/movies” and it wasn’t an unfair society. It was a lunatic. You can’t make laws to prevent lunatics, because lunatics won’t follow them. Putting in metal detectors into every building, or whatever terrible piece of legislation will be proposed in the aftermath, will not stop something like this from happening again. I hope we can just grieve and see that this isn’t a trend, and that the victims don’t become some sort of rallying cry for someone else’s politics.
But it was too late, the mainstream media was already at it, and politicians on the left and the right unleashed their age-old battle on gun-control and how it should be handled. Without having investigated anything at all, ABC News’ Brian Ross went on national television and tried to make a connection between the local Aurora Tea Party to the massacre at the movie theater. This blatant and extremely poor work of journalism is yet another example of mainstream propaganda, so called “news” twisted and manipulated in order to attack an opposition of the political or corporate agenda of the organization.
While this happened, hundreds more died in Syria in some of the most grotesqueness ways imaginable, fighting for the freedoms that Americans take advantage of and are unconscious to. While our media and politicians tried to politicize the shooting deaths of twelve Americans, no one appeared shocked or appalled by the countless massacres in Syria. In fact, there was too much distraction and lack of care for humanity. Just like the Assad loyalists and Syrian elite lounging by the pool as their city burns and their people are slaughtered, the western world takes a back seat and joins them by the pool.
In an age of information, technology and transparency due to the Internet, history will hold this generation accountable as the one that did nothing during what the world knew was another genocide. Instead, they watched the YouTube videos and read the tweets coming from a country whose people were being ruthlessly slaughtered. But for some reason, especially to many Americans, these Syrians aren’t people, but the victims of the Aurora shooting are.
Why is the media not outraged and focused on exposing these atrocities so the American public is just as shocked by the death of 100 families in the Syrian town of Homs as they are by the senseless killing of 12 in Colorado?
By no means should the Aurora tragedy be undermined. It was a devastating event unleashed upon innocent people. But we are all humans and we all share this planet. The Syrian is not a different species experiencing something terrible in some distant land. They’re brothers and sisters of the human race, dying for what Americans already have. They are just one YouTube video, tweet, and Facebook message away.