By Mohamed Harees –
‘Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue’ – Francois de La Rochefoucauld
What happened in Paris where one of the world’s iconic monuments Norte Dame became an unfortunate victim of a raging fire ,was tragic and heart breaking. The sincere grief shown by the world leaders including the West and the hash tag laden expressions of sadness ablaze in the social media were touching and emotional. Trump even suggested in his usual style that perhaps flying tankers could be used to douse the flames. EU President bewailed the sad spectacle of the fire, referring to the Norte Dame as an institution allegedly belonging to the whole humanity. Around 1 Bn Euros have been pledged to reconstruct the cathedral, with most money coming from few elite families connected with Paris’ fashion houses.
It was indeed, a globally significant monument ,well known for its intrinsic arts and architectural value, beyond being a Christian landmark. The expression of global grief at all levels is understandable and part of our human value system. However the problem lies in the selective nature of the grief , sorrow and sadness shown and the double standards and hypocrisy shown particularly by the so-called leaders of the West. The fires set ablaze as a result of the West’s imposed wars and terror in various parts of the world specially the ME in partnership with the regional dictators, have become so commonplace and routine that the world outside has taken them as given and resultantly been immune to the innumerable tragedies of killings, violence , casualties and famine. Besides, what if these types of laudable gestures of pledge to restore this iconic monument, was also equally made to put an end at least to the most horrified scenes of ‘banlieues’ ( ghettos) in their own backyard in Paris. The recent gilet jaunes protests are a testimony to the extent of marginalisation in France. These types of prioritising bricks over bones and human lives are common in today’s secular world. Perhaps, this tragedy would awaken the world’s conscience, where it realises there are many more different things and people to save, beyond just Western artefacts.
Recently, the world saw on TV how WikiLeaks co-founder Assange was pulled out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, possibly to be extradited to US. His revelations included
the horrific adventures the US/UK combine did in Iraq ,Afghanistan and the ME and thus it was not in the interests of the West to keep him out revealing their well guarded secrets about their evil plans in the rest of the world. Today, many other countries have been dismembered in the ME- Libya, Syria and Yemen have been made anarchic and bombed back to Stone Age. Gaza and Occupied territories in Palestine are ruined beyond imagination, becoming a hell hole ion earth. Millions have died , rendered homeless and undergoing famine and health related issues, thanks to the trigger happy tantrums of Bush and his poodle Blair. Even ISIS was a Western construct according to even Western experts. Apart from occasional condemnations and expressions of grief, there has been no serious measures even by the UN to hold those guilty of war crimes in the West to account.
Calls for Trump’s flying tankers and such expressions of heart breaking grief were palpably absent when far more serious tragedies have been staking place in the world. Zionist Israel periodically undertakes land grabbing, forming settlements illegally and bombing expeditions in Gaza, the largest open prison camp in the world, killing hundreds and destroying Palestinian homes and heritage. During the Israel’s operation in 2014, more than 2250 Palestinians including women and children were killed. Israeli Ambassador to the US bodily declared that it is Israel’s right to bomb hospitals but this horror hardly elicited serious condemnations. In 2018, hundreds of peaceful protesters were killed near the Gaza fence, while US recognised Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist State. Recently, the US recognition extended to Golan heights too. Many Palestinian artefacts are being destroyed on a regular basis by the Zionist regime.
What happens in Yemen is really heart breaking to say the least. The worst inhumane catastrophe in recent times according to UN ,unravelling in this poor nation due to the brutal war waged on them by Saudi and UAE supported by US military hardware and software does not attract the similar Norte Dame type condemnations or concerns around the world. Around 85,000 may have died due to starvation and malnutrition and 40 school children recently lost their lives due to a US supplied bomb. For many Barack Obama is a saint and a model US leader. But in his time , 26,171 bombs were dropped on the world in a single year|(2016) and drones were leisurely used to killed innocents in Afghanistan. Today, he was mourning about the destruction of history when Norte Dame was ablaze, when he had been part of destruction of history elsewhere. Hilary Clinton too expressed similar type mourning. Trump’s ‘feats’ in double talk and adopting double standards are open secrets. It is a shame that many tragic realities more graver than the Norte Dame have not been getting the same raging empathy.
Thus, the hypocritical outbursts of emotion and mourns from leaders such as Macrons, Obamas, Trumps and Mays belie their own countries’ complicity in killings ,destruction and wars in many other parts of the world. For them, a burning monument is their own backyard is something to grieve upon whereas evil consequences of many events undertaken to pursue their own strategic interests elsewhere are justifiable. There are many elites in Paris who will pledge money in millions to reconstruct the burning cathedral (quite justifiably), but would not part with their funds when it comes to rehabilitation of their own backyards. The ‘humane’ treatment of refugees in the Calais jungle in France or those from the other side of Mexican ‘wall’ in USA is wishful thinking! What is referred here is not about expressing grief for Norte Dame ;rather total lack of proportion generated in collective grief emerging from the decision making rooms in the west, when compared with other worst tragedies elsewhere ironically created by them.
Grenfell Fire tragedy in the UK is a glaring example of this lack of proportion. 72 people died in that disaster, money pledged to rehouse the survivors were nowhere close to the amounts pledged to Norte Dame reconstruction. There are yet to be rehoused. Teresa May was criticised as inhumane and uncaring after she sidestepped questions about this horrific tragedy. When ISIS destroyed historic artefacts and antiques, the world condemned quite rightly but when people were being killed and maimed in hundreds and thousands in Syria, Yemen and Gaza, much indifference was shown. It is as if concern for human life and value in certain parts of the world beyond the West gets dwarfed when compared to bricks and inanimate objects. Talking of artefacts and antiques, how about the millions worth of them being pilfered under the very eyes of the US invading forces in Iraq and also those items stolen by the Colonial West in the past! Will these be returned to the countries there belong to?
It is also shameful that far right white suprematist groups were trying to play the islamophobic game amidst this Notre Dame disaster and suggested that cause of this disaster would not come out if Islamists are involved. Further ,this damage would serve a higher purpose if it spurs the white man into action to seize power in their own countries, hinting at the immigrants in their midst. Even the Media and social media including FB, stands guilty on this count of hypocrisy and double standards. There is total lack of proportion about the publicity given to tragedies in the West compared to other parts of the world. A clear example was how the media covered the ISIS terror attacks in Paris and Beirut on the same day, few years ago. This double standard streak continues to date. To the media, it’s anti semitism to criticise Israel while it is freedom of expression to talk ill of the character of the Holy Prophet of Islam(S). If a man with a Muslim name commits a terror act, then Muslims are collectively accountable whereas if a white man does it, then it is a psychopath or a lone wolf. It took the courage of Arden of NZ to call a spade a spade and many Media outlets thankfully followed suit. Even UN is guilty of adopting double standards. It is unpalatable that Trump/Bibi adventure to rob and maim Palestinian people do not appear to run any serious opposition in the UN chambers.
Humanitarian crises around the world will fail to be resolved if the providers of aid are also the perpetrators of the conflicts. Western and specially US virtues are mobilised to justify policies, wars, covert activities which are not virtuous at all. The American and the West’s claims of altruism and promotion of democracy was bogus as we saw their evil plans and military adventurism in the aftermath of the end of WWII and during Iraqi and Afghanistan invasions. Everywhere US and their British and French counterparts leave their footprints, there is eventual ruin and victims. Their pack of lies and deception to start wars get exposed subsequently.
In this context, while we feel and should feel for this Norte Dame tragedy, it is also important to keep in mind there were many other more serious tragedies going around the world, most of them being as a result of the adventures of the West, but conveniently been left out of the public discourses and therefore not been shown the same concern by the scheming West and a biased Media . Until the world understands these double standards and Western hypocrisy in its’ proper perspective, it will continue to accept Western narratives and media positions as eternal truth and continue to selectively grieve or express our grief at West’s behest ,leaving out catastrophes of graver and serious proportions from our radar.