Without question, I mourn for Paris’ recent victims and their families — and I would never claim knowledgeable firsthand experience of the same. But I refuse to cloak myself in nationalism of any stripe or star, particularly not now.
Because, besides victims in Paris, an incomprehensibly astronomic number of people have been grieving loss of the highest order for some time — in places whose names roll off our tongues as if it’s accepted that violence simply happens there — and a majority likely couldn’t guess the colors on these victims’ flags.
You see, I also mourn for those killed mere hours before Paris crumbled into chaos, in strikingly similar attacks in Beirut.
I mourn the hundreds of thousands displaced or killed in Syria, no matter their pledged allegiance. No matter their professed religion. No matter.
I mourn for the millions killed in ongoing and renewed, illegal United States’ aggression in Iraq — and those facing a torturous demise from exposure to depleted uranium employed in violation of international and humanitarian law — for reasons far closer to ‘American’ and corporate hegemony than compassionate principle.
I mourn the untold number killed in the United States’ insidious — and seemingly permanent — war in Afghanistan. And the countless children there who know nothing of peace, much less the feeling of safety it brings. And patients and staff recently targeted, bombed, and then shot while fleeing the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz — and the irony of that humanitarian organization’s French roots.
I mourn those forced into human slavery or sex trafficking in Malaysia; and curse the scant hope they escape, now that the massive TPP has garnered U.S. government’s tacit approval of the abhorrence that is human trade.
I mourn for Palestinians, whose land was usurped — and whose lives and infrastructure and families and sense of security and HOMES are under siege and occupation by an illegal and actively terrorist State.
I mourn the patients and staff at the over 100 healthcare facilities in Yemen that have been BOMBED since March. And the apparently soulless who found an acceptable target in hospitals.
I mourn for Yemen.
I mourn for the victims of complicit government violence in Mexico, and 43 students and their families who lack answers.
I mourn for Chinese men, women, and children working, quite literally, as slaves, so the West can be rude at dinner and take endless pictures — of its narcissistically apathetic self.
I mourn rampant genocide — past and present — for the sake of manifest destiny. And empire. And imperialism. And inexplicable and unstated reasons.
In fact, I mourn for all victims of terror, whether State or group sponsored, without conditions attached to my grief — no matter location, nor loyalty, nor arbitrary geopolitical happenstance of location of a victim’s birth. And I’m already grieving those soon to be terror’s next victims; since, as French President François Hollande jarringly warned, avenging Paris’ victims just birthed (yet another) “PITILESS” war.
As if gentle were somehow a method to employ in waging war.
Yes, I mourn for Paris. But I do so while weeping in shame at the deplorable supercilious judgment ensconced in Western reaction to it; for countless pitiable xenophobes and their endless vapid justifications; for arrogant commentary from politicians and their media mouthpieces with their embarrassing post-tragedy clamoring to exploit ignorant heartstrings for the appropriate victims; for the endless War of Terror — and the service members who somehow haven’t yet deduced that this would ALL END if they simply refused to fucking fight.
The fact is, grief on this scale is exhausting. And I’m very nearly out of tears.
So keep these victims around the globe in mind — every, single man, woman and child who has, who is, and who will suffer the maiming, horror, torture, and death that’s as necessary to war as those who take up arms — when you next excuse a politician’s stance on war, because the rest of his or her platform seems really promising.
Or, at least, seems the lesser of two evils.
And shake that flag from your social media profile; and your home; and your thoughts. Because as long as you wear just one flag, your attempt to stand with victims of terror is a most embarrassingly hollow solidarity, indeed.