The bombing of the Boston Marathon has already produced a string of hoax reports, conspiracy theories and unfounded finger pointing. Today we highlight some of those hoax reports, examine the reaction and plea for calm.
There were reports in the Mail Online of another disaster yesterday. High in the mountains of the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, a wedding party was celebrating the marriage of a young afghan couple. As the families danced and sang, a bomb dropped from the sky blowing the venue to pieces. At least thirty people died instantly, and further reports suggest more than 120 people were killed or wounded. The bomb was dropped by a US warplane. There were no Taliban or Al Qaeda targets at the wedding. All those killed and injured were civilians.
This story is actually the retelling of a story from 2002 in order to support a theory that the Boston Bombing was retaliation for the wedding bomb.
David Icke has highlighted a mysterious Facebook page set up in sympathy for the bombing victims, which he claims was set up two days before the event. I particularly love this little boy’s debunking of this hoax.
A series of fake twitter and Facebook accounts were set up to capitalise on those looking to ‘do something’, soliciting donations to nonexistent charities. Some even used pictures of ‘child runners’ that they misled people into believing had died in the attacks to generate memes.
I won’t be singling out false flag claims for debunking as, like everyone else, I have no idea who set the bombs off.
It didn’t take long for prejudice to rise to the surface in response to the bombing. Fox News is busy heaping blame on Islam, with no requirement for any connecting evidence at all. Fox has run a series of stories including ‘Jordan Muslim Extremist Happy over Boston Bombings’, later picked up by the UK’s Daily Telegraph so as to ensure Brits got all angry at the Muslims too.
This sort of irresponsible spewing of prejudice has nothing to do with supporting innocent victims or seeking justice. It is simply the seizing of an opportunity to release and stoke pre-existing bigotry. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Sadly, this is what gets innocent brown people insulted, assaulted and killed in times of great anxiety such as this.
The responsible and proper thing to do at this time is keep calm. Arm chair terror experts inciting religious and ethnic hatred in a tense and uncertain moment will do nothing to support those grieving their losses, or deliver justice. It will only serve to heap tragedy upon tragedy. Let’s not do that.
As people all over the world join Boston in mourning, another disaster which happened yesterday received less empathy.
More than 30 people were killed and hundreds injured in a wave of car bombs and other blasts across Iraq, ahead of important local elections. Explosions rocked Baghdad, Kirkuk and several other towns.
It is at times like this we can and should take the opportunity to connect with the terror experienced elsewhere in the world. When we experience the shock, fear and anger when bombs go off, we should not pretend our suffering is unique or new in the world. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and nations across the world are full of grieving mothers, bewildered young people, fathers furiously unable to protect their families, and other everyday people trying to go about their lives.
I wonder how we would feel about Iraq and our role in the current status quo, if our media outlets personalised such incidents in the same way they have with Boston. It is clear that the media has a role in making an event which happens far away personally relevant to those watching. Today, the media has brought to life the loss of an eight year old boy in a way that means the whole world will grieve his loss. His death is made significant. Imagine this level of respect and personalisation, a statistic reformed into a real person, accorded to the daily losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. This might well be unbearable. But it would surely provoke a greater pressure on our governments.
Never Waste an Opportunity to Come Together
The reality is that people do care. Most people presented with the stories of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same way as those in Boston, would find both equally distressing. This is why the presentation of these stories is so critical. We might debate whether the failure of large portions of our mainstream media to perform this function well is cock up or conspiracy. What is clear however, is that this failure is resulting in a relative view of what constitutes terror.
We can understand the rage of a marathon runner who loses his son to a roadside bomb, but not the rage of the afghan father who loses half his family in a bombing during a family wedding. We weigh these lives less equally, and we do so at our peril.
We can instead take this opportunity to reflect. Consider the national and international trauma caused by two bombs in Boston. Then imagine the difficulty maintaining public order if fifty bombs had gone off across the country yesterday…and two days before, and a week before that.
Never waste an opportunity to come together. It is easy to become hostile in these moments; to shout each other down, to fall into some ‘my trauma is greater than your trauma’ game of emotional pat-a-cake.
We can instead seize the opportunity to hug our children closer, say the unsaid ‘I love you’s, consider those others far away and put their suffering in the same category of our sympathies.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.