How the West shames the rest

How the West shames the rest July 13, 2016
     Credit: Creative Commons

People wonder why the rest of the world gets angry at Western countries. In the early 2000s, one leader said that “they hate our freedom.” Not even close. If you want to know why the angry, one can simply observe how Westerners shame Muslims.

Be aware that we can shame other people, even without knowing it.


How Westerners Shame Muslims

I’ve linked a number of recent articles pointing out the same phenomenon. Below, you’ll see a compilation of quotes that summarize the key idea.

After Attacks on Muslims, Many Ask: Where Is the Outpouring? (NY Times, July 5, 2016)

“More deaths in Iraq in the last week than Paris and Orlando combined but nobody is changing their profile pics, building colours, etc.,” Kareem Rahaman wrote on Twitter.

“Why isn’t #PrayForIraq trending?” Razan Hasan of Baghdad posted on Twitter. “Oh yeah no one cares about us.”

“Hira Saeed of Ottawa asked on Twitter why Facebook had not activated its Safety Check feature after recent attacks as it did for Brussels, Paris and Orlando, Fla., and why social media had not been similarly filled with the flags of Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq. “The hypocrisy is the western world is strong,” she wrote.”

Baghdad bombing: Isis’s most deadly attack in weeks is the one the world probably cares about least (Independent, July 4, 2016)

“Car bombings in Baghdad conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of victims’ names and life stories.”

Why don’t we stand with Turkey, like we did with Paris and Orlando? (Independent, June 30, 2016)

“So why is it that when an attack like Brussels or Orlando happens, the world is forced to mourn (quite rightly) and the West becomes the centre of the world’s gravity yet when the producers of indiscriminate explosions strike in Beirut, Baghdad or Istanbul, it merits fleeting news coverage at best?”

Why we forget Muslim terror victims (, June 29, 2016)

“Once more, there’s far less outrage when the victims of terrorism are Muslim. I don’t see any world leaders flying to Istanbul to march in public protests against extremism, after all, even though there’s been more violence from terrorists in Turkey than many other countries.

Some Muslims think this double standard is a clear instance of Islamophobia.”

We Prayed For Paris — But What About Istanbul? (Huffington Post, June 29, 2016)

“While Facebook turned on its safety check feature, which allows users to mark themselves as safe during a crisis, it did not provide a filter that lets users easily modify their profile picture with an overlay of the Turkish flag, as they did with the French flag after the Paris attacks.”

Apathy Shames

                 Credit: creative commons

Apathy breeds anger because apathy reckons people as having little value, which is the essence of shaming. It is very natural that Westerners would be empathetic towards those they regard as cultural “insiders” (e.g. Orlando, Europeans, etc.). So, the injured & dead (among the insiders) are memorialized (i.e. honored).

Over time, this pattern of shaming behavior fosters deep seeded anger even hatred towards the West. Someone might reply, “I just didn’t think about it.” That is precisely the point.

Shame comes in many forms. It is a practical issue that shapes everything from personal relationships to politics. Of course, Christians should be conscious of honor-shame dynamics in their own community. We don’t want to settle for what it merely “natural” (only honoring cultural insiders).

I leave you with a few questions for reflection:

  • How might apathetic shaming be a factor in your ministry?
  • How might we honor cultural outsiders in order to reflect the fact we want all nations to be “insiders” with respect to God’s family?


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