Social media “activists” can hashtagscream #StopKillingLumads all they want ’til their touchscreens crack. You get a “trending” hashtag at best and a few cheers and high-fives around that “achievement”. But, at the end of the day, you get jack squat results. Mainstream media won’t give them the time of day, politicians won’t mention them in their speeches, and, yes, showbiz celebrities won’t touch the topic with a ten-foot pole lest a damper be put on the “positive” vibes of their noon-time variety shows.
What people do care about are Syrians pouring all over Western Europe. Never mind the in-your-face reality that whilst the photo of a drowned Arab boy is successfully being used as a rallying artefact in this unfolding drama, there are millions — millions — of dark-skinned African kids who are virtually dead even as they work the diamond mines and are conscripted by pirates, terrorists, and warlords to fight as child-soldiers in the various armed conflicts raging all over the African continent.
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Why is it that some people’s kids get all the media mileage while others — like the Lumads of Mindanao — get zilch?
The answers to that question, unfortunately, fall within one of those vast let’s-not-go-there topical regions that men in suits and women in heels shy away from during banter over lattes or cocktails.
But this is GRP and we will go there.
Stop and think about the über-trending topic of the Philippines’ traffic mess for a moment. Metro Manila’s traffic mess makes mega-trending headline news everyday. And yet it never gets solved! No politician has ever suffered any consequence of significance as a result of worsening Metro Manila traffic. Nobody. No consequences, no call to action, no results. It’s simple, really.
The point is, if a problem that causes Kris Aquino to miss an appointment every now and then does not get solved, what chance does the plight of an obscure indigenous tribe living in the forests of Mindanao have standing out above the noise of Facebook selfies, foodporn, and cat memes?
Syrian refugees, however, seem to be a different matter. They have the power to emotionally-blackmail all of Western Europe into “opening their doors” to their plight and, following that, overrunning the entire continent. They are now a point of debate between bleeding heart “progessives” and jaded conservatives who are sick of the political correctness that turned Europe’s ghettoes into a microcosm of the ancient global clash of cultures that goes back to the time of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.
But are they really that special?
Sure, perhaps Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants. But here’s the simple question that this factoid raises: So What? Morgan Freeman is descended from African people. How come nobody is launching Twitter hashtags about African slave labour in those diamond mindes and calling for a boycott on Fifth Avenue jewellers? Any one of those blood diamond miners could be the next Morgan Freeman, right?
Obviously there is something about Syrian refugees that makes them more “special” in the eyes of the media compared to Lumads and diamond miners. What makes one special and the other doomed to fatal obscurity?
There should be a Nobel Prize reserved for the person who finds that elusive button that, when clicked on, turns on the feature of “specialness” for a given community of victims.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.