Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, I encountered several articles that criticize the way the Western world responded to the tragic loss of life in Paris. While each of these articles bemoans the loss of 132 innocent lives, they also highlight similar atrocities that happened before the Paris attack and were almost completely overlooked.
In a lot of ways this event, and its media response, reminded me of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. While the media response to this tragedy has been a little more self-aware, our international reaction has been similar to how it was last time this kind of tragedy affected a Western nation. Rather than discuss the way we responded to these attacks, I wanted to examine why we reacted the way we did.
1) It felt close to home
I remember waking up the morning of 9/11, walking into the living room to see my mom crying. My dad turned to me and told me the world had changed overnight. Hearing about the attacks on Paris gave me the same shiver of fear that I felt that day. I don’t think it’s hard to dissect what motivates that feeling. These particular attacks were frightening because they happened to Western nations, and we in the West are very accustomed to feeling in control. We took control over much of the world during an age of imperialism, colonization, and slavery. Today we continue to control much of the world through unfair aid practices and political manipulation. These kind of attacks are terrifying because they make us feel like we don’t have as much control as we think we do.
Even though last Thursday 45 innocent victims lost their lives to a terrorist attack in Beirut and, 6 months ago a similar attack in Kenya killed 147 innocent people, many of us heard little to nothing about those attacks until their news coverage was compared to what occurred in Paris. In our effort to show solidarity with Paris, the Western world made it apparent that certain tragedies frighten us more than others.
As Elie Fares explained in his blog comparing the media response to the Paris and Beirut attack,
“When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”
Posted in morality, news, politics
Tagged #ParisAttack, 9/11, aid, anger, answers, atrocities, attack, Beirut, change, colonialism, comfortable, complex, control, death, demonize, disturbed, Elie Fares, evil, Fear, frightening, future, George Bush, hate, human, imperialism, innocent victims, institution, Iraq, ISIS, issues, Kenya, liberal, love, manipulation, media, media response, news, paris, politics, prevent, professor, racism, radio, rationalize, Refugee, response, responsible, safe, selfish, slavery, students, Syria, terrorism, threats, tragedy, Tumblr, Twin Towers, underestimate, university, University of Missouri, unsafe, war on terror, War on Terrorism, west, western nations, world
1) There are muscles in your mouth you’ve never used before
I’ve never thought much about language, at least not beyond trying to figure out what to say next. Even then I don’t really think things through. If you never had much of an interest in linguistics (like myself) it can come as a surprise when you start to learn about the basics of how spoken language works.
Here at Trois Pistole one of the French Teachers is a linguist and, incidentally, an anglophone. This gives him a lot of insight. As an English Speaker he has first-hand experience with the kind of mistakes we are likely to make while learning French. Then, as a linguist, he has a good idea of why exactly we make those mistakes. Luckily for us, he also hosts a phonetics clinic once a week to teach us the little details of pronunciation. Last week he focused on how French vowels work. The image I’ve included below is meant to represent where French vowel sounds come from in our mouths.
The French “i”, which sounds like an English “e”, is formed at the front of the mouth when the jaw closed (antérieure, fermée). In contract, the French “ɑ” comes from the back of the mouth and requires a wide open jaw (postérieure, ouverte).
Posted in Canada, language
Tagged British Columbia, Canada, communication, creativity, difficulty, Dugs, Francais, Franglish, French, French Immersion, immersion, interpretive dance, language, muscles, paranoid, paranoid parrot, professor, Quebec, struggle, teacher
As you may remember from last week, I’m currently attending a full immersion language school in Quebec. A little over a week ago I gathered in a sweltering auditorium with approximately 250 other students while a professor spoke to us in English, for the last time.
“The people of this village have a name for you anglophones;” he explained, “they call you the ones with the blank stares.”
I’ve been here for about two weeks now, and more often than not that’s how it goes. I limp out something French. The Francophone responds so fast that to my untrained ears a sentence sounds instead like one very long word. It feels a little bit like being two years old again, only with memories of a time when you were actually a competent human being.
Just imagine that first image is someone trying to explain something in French.
Growing up in British Columbia I heard complaints against French language laws, which work to protect French culture. English speakers argued that it was an unfair double standard, and that the French were just being snobby. That has not been my experience here in Quebec. Continue reading
Posted in Canada, language, politics
Tagged Anglophone, bicycle, big families, British Columbia, deer in the headlights, Francophone, French culture, French Immersion, French language laws, language, language extinction, language preservation, professor, Quebec, Quebecois, snobby, Trois Pistole, university