Sunday, November 15, 2015

About the becoming of our bodies as "disposable"

Explosion in Beirut on one night, followed by an explosion in Baghad, followed by an explosion in Paris. In the middle of all this, one cannot but stand in silence and grief for the horrifying moment we live in. I will not go into the details about which explosion is sadder, i mean how does one quantify that? Is this a misery competition where people decide to selectively grief for a human's death more than another? I am not trying to flatten the complexity of the situation, neither i am trying to flatten the importance of political geographies, but the death of civilians is devastating, regardless of who they are. Now maybe we feel more concern towards places we have been to, towards areas we built a bond with, depending on where we live. Therefore of course the bombing of Dahiye struck me much harder than the bombing of Paris given that i live in Beirut, because i called about 7 friends and their families between the first 5 minutes of receiving the horrifying news and the sigh of relief that my friends and their families all survived it. A five minutes of intense anxiety, of fear of loss, of the anticipation of the end of life as we know it before it and after it!  And then the misery of learning how many people died, how many injured, the brutality of bombing the most populated crowded market in Dahiye. But again, that is exactly why i feel such sense of solidarity with Baghdad and Paris, because apart from death being so devastating itself, i know that someone in my position called a friend and they did not pick up, and their life as they know it, ended! 

Those who have lost a loved one before know that there is life before they lost a loved one, and life after it, and that life will never be the same after it. 

I am very sick of the people who are making fun of the Paris bombing just because they have political stances against the "west". It is one thing to have political disagreement with the west and detest its politics and regimes and governance and colonialism and so on, it is another to make fun of death of civilians. 

That said, after watching both the coverage of the Dahiye bombing and the paris bombing, a lot of questions struck me very hard: why is it that the world feel so much more solidarity with paris then Beirut or Baghdad? I know that white lives globally matter much more than our lives (middle eastern lives, people of color lives everywhere) - sadly - but what is beyond that, what is the concealed in all the reading of who is a human being with a life that matters and who is not? 

Media coverage and its participation in our disposability 

On the Dahiye bombing night if you sit and watch TV, you will notice that there is no sense of any self censorship towards filming blood and destruction on live TV. Human pieces or even dead bodies. Even in the hospitals, injured people were interviewed directly after their treatment while they are lying in their beds, injured. And that image looked so disturbingly familiar. 

If we go back in history, we notice that this is not the first time a news channel covering a bombing or clashes in any of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Lybia does that. Does the showing of sabotaged ripped apart bodies, tortured bodies, scattered body parts, intestines of a human being on the ground. There is always this sense of shoving in our faces those violent images that are not only violent towards us as viewers but towards the body of the dead or injured humans themselves. 

The world have learnt to recognize our bodies, our brown bodies as ones that are injured, scattered, ripped apart and dead. Even we are learning to recognize and identify our bodies as such. Even we sometimes think of our bodies and our lives as disposable, as ones that survived this bombing but might not survive the other. Comprehension of how our bodies become more disposable to the world lies in the comparative approaches of how western media covers its bombing events and how our local media and international media cover our bodies in bombings. Paris media coverage did not show us dead bodies, we barely saw images of covered bodies, covered with sheets....

The bodies of people from the middle east are always on TV in pain, in war. Almost everyday an explosion strikes Iraq, Syria is in constant war, Lebanon is famous for its constant bomb outbursts  and the world is watching recklessly as if they have become so used to this situation that it became the norm. And here is where the media played the most important role in the normalization of our bodies as DEAD BODIES. And this is where we are more and more becoming disposable to the world, thus minimizing the sense of solidarity with our region in comparison to the level of solidarity with any bombing that happens in the west. 

The brutal visual festival that takes place in the Lebanese media coverage of bombings maybe aims to collect solidarity, to show reality and portray the horror of what is happening; to mirror the pain that people suffered, but this possibility strikes as hard: why do we need to see blood to know how heavy and miserable and violent it is to be bombed? Might is be that we got so used to seeing such brutal violating visuals of dead bodies and blood to the extent that just the mere fact that 48 people died does not move us as hard? And how sad and violent is that? You see, it is a vicious cycle! 

Finally, again i am not trying to flatten the politics of what life matters more, i need to reiterate that i do realize that western - white in specific - lives matter more to the west and the whole world, but through this reading i am trying to add to the complexity of this debate, and to break out of this parrot  like repetition of why the western lives matter more than ours! 

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