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2 Weeks After Paris Nightmare the World Counted the Dead

Why the Second and Third Worlds accept the west’s hierarchy of compassion


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


The author is a Russian journalist living in Prague.  He wrote this exclusively for RI.  Read the Russian original in RI's Russian edition. Translated from Russian by Svetlana Kurzhaly and Rhod Mackenzie.

The Terrible Statistics of Assassination...

Two weeks have passed since 13 November terrorist attack in Paris: 129 civilian dead, 352 wounded, seven dead terrorists. Such a massacre in the heart of a major power provoked a wave of sympathy and grief around the world.

<figcaption>Ostankino TV tower in Moscow in French flag colours on the day of mourning for the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris</figcaption>
Ostankino TV tower in Moscow in French flag colours on the day of mourning for the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris

Not only  did millions of French flags appear on Facebook, but also on the Empire State Building in New York, the pyramids in Egypt, the Opera House in Sydney and other world landmarks including the Petrin Tower in Prague. When something monstrous, incredible happens there is an outpouring of grief across the world.

But serious research tells a slightly different story.  According to"Global Terrorism Rating 2015", prepared by the International Institute for Economics and Peace, the number of victims of terrorist attacks around the world increased by 80% compared with 2013. Last year, 32,658 people were killed. Most of the attacks occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria (78% of victims). India, Yemen, Somalia and Lebanon were not far behind. 

Overall, terrorist attacks were registered in 93 countries.The responsibility for the majority of the attacks was taken by Boko Haram and ISIS. The material losses are estimated at $53 billion. The "reassuring" thing is that thirteen times more people are killed as a result of domestic violence than from the actions of terrorists.  But that gap is steadily declining, at the expense of the victims of terrorists whose numbers increased nine times since 2000. 

And 2015 has been no exception:  In Lebanon, Turkey, Thailand, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kenya, Yemen, attacks killed almost seven hundred, wounding over a thousand.       .

Research by the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that the proportion of citizens of Western countries in the number of terrorist victims accounts for only 0.56% excluding the victims of 9/11 attacks, or 2.4%, taking them into account. 

First, second and third grade victims of terror

The majority of terrorists attacks are held without a public outpouring of  grief or the expression of popular support for their victims. And only those in Europe or the US are the focus of the media and politicians. Why is that? 

The explanation is pretty simple: the so-called "golden billion", the Euro-Atlantic civilization, the United States and Europe, constitutes a minority of humanity, yet it is called "the first world". And since it is the "first", everything that happens in it is of importance to the media, the politicians and ordinary citizens of the world.

Russia, or the post-Soviet space, formerly called the "second world”, is less significant, therefore the world’s reaction to events here is usually weaker, also because the "second world" is even now viewed as a potential enemy of the “first”.

And finally, there is the "third world". Previously it was called the "colonies", "dependent territories", then "developing countries". Usually the world only pays attention to this area in two cases: when it is the source of threats and when the West needs to show its charity and humanitarianism. Otherwise, the world's mass media and therefore world public opinion don’t care about it, even in comparison with the second world. 

For example, the theme of the Ukraine Holodomor appeared widely in the media, but in 1943, when 5.5 million of Bengalis died - no. The Genocide of Christian Armenians is a topic, but the genocides in Indonesia, India - no. Finally, there is a country which is very close to the "first world", represented by the Star of David, where terror is part of everyday life, part of the racism of our time.

There are "first", "second" and “third class"people, nations, countries. This is how the information agenda and thus world public opinion is formed. Or vice versa. It’s difficult to say which came first - the chicken or the egg. “

Many of our fellow and non fellow citizens see themselves or, if not themselves personally, their country or civilization. as second or third-class compared to the "first world”.  Those who shout "Why we are worse?" are immediately declared “pro-Russian activists”, "nationalists", "fascists" and so on.

This is the state of the mind and soul of the world in which we live. Few people remember that the wealth of the "golden billion" was achieved through the ruthless exploitation of the "third world”, and the crises of the "first world" were most often solved by taking the lives of of the "second". The West has always known how to fight for its interests "to the last Russian soldier". 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t sympathize with the French. We SHOULD! You can and should share the pain of others, you can and must help and support those in need. But we should also remember how they treat us and what they think of us. We are, and always will be the “Other".


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