Mourn The Passing Of Prince But Not 500 Migrants, We
Have To Ask: Have We Lost All Sense Of Perspective?
Could not one of those dead children among the five
hundred souls on the sinking Mediterranean boat
become a ‘superstar’?
By Robert Fisk
something gone adrift within the moral compass of
our ‘news’ reporting? In the past week, 64 Afghans
have been killed in the largest bomb to have
exploded in Kabul in 15 years. At least 340 were
wounded. The Taliban set off their explosives at
the very wall of the ‘elite’ security force – watch
out for that word ‘elite’ – which was supposed to
protect the capital. Whole families were
annihilated. No autopsies for them. Local
television showed an entire family – a mother and
father and three children blown to pieces in a
millisecond – while the city’s ambulance service
reported that its entire fleet (a miserable 15
vehicles) were mobilised for the rescue effort. One
ambulance was so packed with wounded that the back
doors came off their hinges.
also died this week.
Afghanistan is the country to which we and our EU
partners are happily returning refugees on the
grounds that Kabul and its surrounding provinces are
“safe”. It is, of course, a lie – as flagrant and
potentially as bloody as the infamous weapons of
mass destruction we claimed were in Iraq in 2003.
By then, we had already promised the Afghans – in
2001 – that we wouldn’t let them down. We wouldn’t
forget them as we did after the Soviet war. A Blair
promise, of course, and thus worthless.
another story on Afghan television last week, which
carried its own dark implications for the future. A
young man called Sabour was convicted of murdering
two American advisers and told the court that he had
absolutely no regrets. Afghan social media began to
fill with comments in support of the man. He was “a
real Afghan,” said one. “A true Afghan.” So much
for Afghanistan and its utterly corrupt government
and our continued claim that we support this bogus
administration and that our advisers are there to
produce, well, not ‘Jeffersonian democracy” – as the
Americans coyly admitted in 2003 – but at least
also died this week.
was the latest Mediterranean catastrophe. Up to 500
refugees and migrants were believed to have drowned
after refugees from a small vessel sailing out of
Libya were transferred onto a larger boat on which
Egyptians, Ethiopians, Somalis and Sudanese were
traveling. The survivors were landed in Greece,
some having seen their families drown. But there
were no pictures of the sinking. No autopsies for
them, of course. No dead little Aylan Kurdis were
washed up on a soft beach for the cameras. They
simply drifted straight down to the depths of the
ocean to join the other thousands of skeletons who
never made it to Europe. Do not reflect that five
hundred lives is almost exactly one third the total
passenger deaths on the Titanic. Do not mention
that another million human beings are likely to
choose this Mediterranean passage now that we are
closing the straits between Greece and Turkey.
Prince died this week.
No, I don’t
begrudge those who mourn this brilliant musician and
the social revolution he represented. The ‘Purple
Rain’ ‘superstar’ also had fans across the Middle
East. There are Arab Facebooks aplenty today
expressing their sorrow at his death. But I do
wonder if we are going too far. When network
television presenters are expressing their
condolences to the mayor of Minneapolis and the
Eiffel Tower has turned purple, there must surely
come a time when we ask ourselves if our sense of
priorities has not lost all perspective. Could not
one of those three dead children in Kabul have
become a ‘Prince’? Or the children among the five
hundred souls on the sinking Mediterranean boat?
Could not he or she have become a ‘superstar’? How
about a few presenters expressing their sorrow for
their deaths, too? The colour would be black
instead of purple, of course. The Eiffel Tower
lights would have to be switched off.
will not happen. Because ‘Prince’ died this week.