Targets of Islamic terror: Sympathy for France, Belgium… condemnation for USA. What is going on here?

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The Charlie Hebdo attack in France. The terror attack on concert goers and cafe patrons in  Paris last November. The terror attack at the airport in Belgium this year. Each a terrible act of vicious violence perpetrated on unsuspecting, innocent people in the name of Islam, the “religion of peace”. These attacks were widely seen as not just attacks on individuals, but as assaults on the principles, values and humanity of the European countries in which they were perpetrated – and by extension, on Western civilization itself.

That is why the outpouring of sympathy from within the targeted countries and from the entire civilized world was most commonly expressed using symbols which embodied the collective violation of all that is decent and honourable about those nations.

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And there was certainly no shortage of sympathy on display for the those countries in the immediate aftermath of the tragic events.

So why is the country that is collectively suffering from the latest in this series of  Islamic terror attacks receiving such a different response? Why, rather than being the beneficiary  of mass sympathy, is the massacre in Orlando that has left 49 people dead and as many injured eliciting mostly condemnation of the victimized nation itself?

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Let’s do a simple comparison. On November 13 of last year, Islamic extremist gunmen entered a nightclub in Paris, opened fire on the crowd, killing 90 and injuring many others.

On June 12 this year, an Islamic extremist gunman entered a nightclub in Orlando Florida, opened fire on the crowd, killing 49 and injuring many others.

Following the Paris attack, there was a mass outpouring of sympathy and goodwill for the people of France and condemnation of Islamic terrorism.

Following the Orlando attack, there was a mass outpouring of condemnation of American society – focusing primarily on gun laws but also branching off into homophobia, men in general, religion in general and even American Islamophobia.

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Nobody with a sprig of sense would have insisted that the Charlie Hebdo attack , the November terror attacks in Paris or the attack at the airport in Belgium this year were first and foremost issues of local gun control.

What happened in Orlando was just as much an atrocity fuelled by Islamic hatred of  collective Western values as the attacks in Europe – only this time perpetrated on the American people. And yet the focus of condemnation is being directed against the target of the hatred – Americans and their society. What is going on here?

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Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, photographer, song writer and blogger from Toronto Canada. Michael's work is influenced by his interest in psychology, media, consciousness studies, politics and philosophy.

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