Afghanistan: It's what's for dinner. (side dishes include Iran and Pakistan)
Apologies for the long hiatus! I was without a computer for the summer and didnt have the patience to attempt to use my phone to make a post. I promise I wont be away that long again!
However, it wasn’t just my lack of computer that kept me away this summer. It was also a little bit of a slow summer as far as Afghanistan was concerned. The media whirlwind took on the pressing issues in Egypt at first. And while I considered weighing in, Egypt has never been on my radar as a country of study aside from some Cold War history (Nasser, Suez, the general stuff). Then Syria took over (More on that in an upcoming post).
As for Afghanistan, I was waiting for something BIG. A big announcement from Karzai or the Taliban. A major battle. An assassination. SOMETHING. However, while none of these huge events came to pass, there were a smattering of small events. All part of the “permaconflict” that Afghanistan has played host to for the past 34 years. People were killed and wounded. Suicide attacks occurred regularly. The Taliban (Or the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, if you prefer) regularly kept the world abreast through social media of the number of ‘invaders’ they killed.
For example, from today:
Still nothing ‘blog worthy’ came of it. It’s an age old question, yet one that keeps being recycled. Are we becoming numb to violence? Or worse, it is simply expected? In pretty much any other country (Barring a few) this type of violence would be front page news.
Why are we implicitly ‘okay’ with violence in Afghanistan? It doesnt affect us. A bomb goes off in Boston and people are glued to their televisions. A bomb goes off in Kabul and people change the channel. Has the conflict simply lasted too long?
My assertion is that it’s a similar situation to crimes in what are deemed ‘bad neighborhoods’. It stops being news after a while. At least not news people care about. People who live in those areas either come to expect it, or at least are unsurprised by it.
I have some personal experience with this. I’ve lived in Newark, New Jersey for the past three years.
When I was new to the neighborhood, every siren, loud noise or raised voice prickled my sense made me look around for where it came from and try to assess if I was in any imminent danger. Now? I barely notice.
Even when there was a shooting at the end of my block a couple of months ago I simply shrugged it off.
I mean, no one died. No one I knew was involved. I wasn’t even home when it happened. And withing a couple days it was all but forgotten. I still got off the bus at that corner without thinking twice.
Has the same effect set in for the citizens of and the media covering Afghanistan?
There is certainly something to be said about not letting violence consume you and to avoid letting it dominate popular media outlets, but by not giving it it’s due are we normalizing it?
If every shooting, bombing, IED explosion in Afghanistan was treated by the media as the heinous crimes that they are rather than numbers scrolling across a ticker while cable news anchors discuss Benghazi, long lines at the airport, Alex Rodriguez’s alleged steroid use, or Miley Cyrus twerking, would it cause enough public outcry to force change?
If we more intimately knew about the violence that occurred, would we be more likely to try to stop it?
Or will the general public simply act appalled, while reaching for their copy of US Weekly and changing the channel?