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Americans, West Silent on Iraq, Lebanon Attacks, Come Alive for Paris

© REUTERS / Vincent KesslerFlowers and candles are placed near the scene of a shootin the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015
Flowers and candles are placed near the scene of a shootin the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015 - Sputnik International
While American mainstream media is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Paris attacks, the alternative news outlet The Spectacle is wondering why bombings in Iraq and Lebanon went virtually unnoticed by the American public.

The alternative news outlet The Spectacle notes that the same day of the Paris attacks, Lebanon was just starting to come to terms with their own terrorist attack.

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"Friday marked a day of mourning in Lebanon following an attack by ISIS suicide bombers who killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 28 in Southern Beirut," the author, Javier Simon, wrote in his piece titled "In Wake of Paris Attacks, Is the Mainstream Media Undermining Wider ISIS Threat?" "Aljazeera called it 'the worst attack in years in Lebanon.' A statement reportedly made by ISIS credited the attack to 'soldiers of the caliphate.' That day, Iraq suffered two attacks which the terror group also took credit for. In one, a suicide bomber struck a memorial service in Baghdad that killed at least 21 people and wounded 46. A roadside bomb also struck the Iraqi capital that day killing at least five people and wounding 15, according to police officials."

The Spectacle then goes on to speculate that it may just be a matter of numbers:  The 128 deaths in Paris might potentially overshadow the numbers of deaths in Beirut and Baghdad.

However, Simon concedes that, overall, the Middle East has been hit far harder in terrorist acts.

"The numbers tally up in the Middle East too. According to the Associated Press, 'Since the emergence of Islamic State extremists, attacks in Baghdad have taken place almost daily, with roadside bombs, suicide blasts and assassinations …'

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That, he notes, might just be the problem:  The West has simply come to see much of the region as a dangerous place where violence is a way of life. 

"In the U.S., it can become easy to dismiss stories about bombings, and terrorist attacks coming out of the Middle East as something of every-day occurrence," Simon concludes. "More eyebrows are raised when such attacks come to the West, which is supposed to house world powers, as opposed to a troubled state dealing with radical forces trying to topple the government and willingly engaging in frequent acts of violence to prove it can’t protect all its people."

Not everyone is as forgiving of American media, however.

On his site "Hummus for Though," Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoub wrote that the discrepancy is personal.

"I come from a privileged Francophone community in Lebanon. This has meant that I’ve always seen France as my second home," Ayoub wrote. "It… seems clear to me that to the world, my people’s deaths in Beirut do not matter as much as my other people’s deaths in Paris. ‘We’ don’t get a safe button on Facebook. ‘We’ don’t get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users."

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At Bustle, writer Pamela J. Hobart suggests that people dispense empathy via a system of concentric circles

"Our empathy as human creatures is in sadly limited supply, and even professional counselors experience 'empathy fatigue' when they reach their natural limits for emoting towards and on behalf of others," Hobart writes. "Not having Lebanese coworkers or eating Kenyan food doesn't make those victims' lives matter any less, but it does place those faraway events lower down the empathy list given your particular, limited frame of reference."

An Australian journalist suggested the issue starts at the top with world leaders who instantly issued statements after Paris but were more quiet after Baghdad and Beirut. 

"The bombings in Lebanon drew no tweet from Malcolm Turnbull, no social media statement from Barack Obama, no live media blogs from Western media, no wall-to-wall media coverage. And no twitter hashtags from Australians in solidarity with the Lebanese," the New Matlida wrote.

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Facebook, for its part, issued a statement defending its choice to use the alert feature after Paris but not earlier.

"Safety Check is a relatively new feature and until yesterday we had only activated it in the wake of natural disasters," the statement reads. "The product will continue to evolve as we learn more about how it’s used during different crises. We hope to never be confronted with a situation like this again, but if we are, we are of course open to activating the tool given how reassuring it has been for people in Paris."

Simon, however, concludes that whether it's Iraq, France, or the United States, it's worth remembering "that the suffering caused by the Islamic State, and other groups who wish to instill fear on the masses, is one shared by the world at large."
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