Imagine you have an annoying neighbour named Rudy. You two always get into fights: either you “accidentally” park your car on his driveway, or he “happens” to receive and read your mail. One day, you come home and see Rudy sitting on his front lawn, head buried in his knees and crying hysterically. It turns out that his two children died in a car accident earlier today. Now what do you do? A normal person with a normal amount of empathy would console him. But no—you are no average Joe. So you ignore him and walk inside the house and have dinner with your family, because it is steak night, and you love steak.
You showing so little feeling to your poor neighbour is cruel. Even though there is conflict between you two, the children were innocent. It seems that nowadays being cruel is the reality.
On April 3, a bombing took place at a metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia. A suicide bomber killed 11 people and injured 39. He was soon identified as an Islamic extremist, and Russia’s Federal Security Service categorized this event as a terrorist attack. After the incident, many European nations showed little or no solidarity.
Yes, Russia was left alone in grief this time. In the first few days after the attack, BBC only reported the event as a bombing, not a terrorist attack, with the exception of one article titled “High Alert in St Peterburg, Russia After ‘Terrorist Act’ Kills 11,” as it cautiously put a quotes around the words “Terrorist Act.” France didn’t turn off the Eiffel Tower’s lights as it has done before in response to domestic and European terror attacks. The Berlin Senate spokesperson said that the Brandenburg gate didn’t light up with special colors as it does for terrorist attacks that happened in “partner cities.” Facebook did not even create a Russian flag filter to pay tribute to the victims like it did for the Paris terrorist attacks in November of 2015.
Why? It is the same type of hate crime that killed the same common civilians and spilled the same innocent blood as in other terrorist attacks. But the reaction and the attention from western Europe was completely different. Is that all there is to universal love or the most basic respect for lives? Sure, the relationship between Russia and the West has been tense for a century and there are indeed differences in political ideals, economic priorities, and military usage, but this does not lessen the severity of a terrorist act or the devalue the worth of lives lost.
Right after the attack, President Trump spoke to President Putin to express his condolences, stating that the attack was “absolutely a terrible thing” and “terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated.” This time, he didn’t get mocked as Putin’s puppet, because for once he finally did something right—something the rest of the Western world found themselves unable to do.
(Copyright Chriss Liu 2017)