After the bombings and shootings in Paris in November of 2015, people everywhere took action to support France in their time of distress. The #PrayforParis movement, as well as Facebook and Snapchat filters, were embraced by the masses. The terrorist attacks were highly publicized and the world expressed love and encouragement for the historic city.
This past week, there were similar attacks on Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey. At least 23 were confirmed dead and over 400 were injured in the attacks. The police have identified the bomber as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and confirmed it was an act of terrorism.
Hannah Tardie, class of 2017, is studying abroad in Istanbul this semester, along with Zaynab Tawil ’17. Tardie offered a firsthand account of the situation. She explained that there are two conflicts in Turkey right now, one domestic and one international. The bombing in Ankara was part of the domestic dispute, whereas the ISIL attack on Istanbul was part of the international conflict.
Tardie stated, “a place I considered to be home is no longer safe, and it’s sad to see pictures/videos on the Internet of the crowded streets I love now empty and barren, or full of police officers.” She went on to explain that her classes have been cancelled, her parents are encouraging her to transfer programs, and many of her classmates have been personally affected by the conflict, as students and teachers have died in these attacks. “It is just really heartbreaking and really sad, but I feel really valued by the community here.” Tardie plans on staying in Istanbul and seeing out the rest of her semester.
But why aren’t we seeing the same reaction that we did to the Paris bombings? Why is there no “#SaveTurkey” or notifications on Facebook for your friends who are safe in Turkey?
It can be argued that the situation in Paris was on a larger scale, or in a larger city with greater name recognition. However, what does this say about how we value certain lives over others?
The value of life encompasses questions including abortion, the death penalty, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s issues, creating overarching themes in our political discourse. On the Bates campus in particular, we have seen support for #BlackLivesMatter and many other movements that are prominent in today’s society. Some conflicting dialogue has been thrown around claiming “all lives matter,” but how can we claim to place equal value on each life without invalidating the struggles of many?
Since this country’s inception, there have been numerous discrepancies between the values of races and genders. The women’s rights movement has called on this problem to gain the right to vote, the right to choose, and most recently to close the wage gap. In terms of race, there is the mass incarceration of blacks for crimes for which whites would not suffer as harsh a punishment.
The stark contrast of the support for Paris compared to that for Turkey is a simple and clear example of the way America reacts to certain horrors over others. The answer to these problems has not become clear, and in fact becomes more complicated with every situation that arises. Maybe creating an open and peaceful dialogue on the topics could alleviate many of the tensions, especially on campus. And to Batesies in Turkey, come home safely. We love you.