Non-Fiction

White Bodies are Valued More (and that’s bad)

It’s Las Vegas. I’m talking about Las Vegas. Just want to make clear that’s what I’m talking about. I also had to add the bit in brackets because there are a lot of people knockin’ around who think that racism is a great idea actually.

As you probably know, there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas. 50 were killed and 200 more were injured.

Now, if you go onto the social media of your preference, you’ll likely be inundated with reactions of grief and shock, and also political takes (which, to be clear, are not only permissible but a duty).

This, whatever your personal opinion of it, will seem to be a fairly natural state of events. Sure, the part where people got shot was sadly preventable, but the big reaction makes sense, right?

There was an equivalent terrorist attack in Egypt last April which left 44 dead (I’m aware there’s some controversy as to whether white people count as terrorists, and that is also a symptom). That attack didn’t make so much of a wave.

“Oh come on now,” you might say. “You’re just saying things to seem woke and take the moral high ground,” you might say. “People just care about this more because it’s closer to home,” you might say.

Well, certainly some people said that when I voiced a similar view after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. And they could get away with that then, kind of, sort of. France was right next door, after all. I was reliably informed that Irish people pop over to Paris all the time. I asked these people if I could borrow a few hundred euro. They haven’t responded.

But the US is not right next door to Ireland, as there is a large body of water in the way. I don’t pretend that I’m the first to make this point, but contemporary western civilisation is unhealthily American-centric.

There are lots of reasons for that. One is that we just like white people more than anyone else.

So when white people die, the media builds more of a circus around it. A more cynical commentary would say that this is because they know we’ll care more about dead white people. This article will instead suggest that the way the media frames events dictates what we care about, from what point of view, and why. We’re not as smart as we like to think we are, and few of us comb through multiple news-sources to decide what to care about most. Even I’m writing this now because it’s where the discourse is at.

This is what I mean. I do not mean that anyone who was sad about Las Vegas is A Racist, because I don’t think Racists exist, just a system of racism that shapes our thoughts like a sci-fi perception filter. The media is a big part of that.

We have to ask ourselves what we care about, what we’re told to care about, and why.

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