I’m a Syrian-American journalist. Syria is more than the headlines.

A lot of people have asked me what it was
like to wake up to the images that were coming out of Syria with the victims of the sarin
gas attack. “Witnesses and some activists said the toxic
substance was delivered by Syrian and Russian jets in an attack in the rebel-held region.” Obviously it was painful, it was infuriating,
it was frustrating, but at the same time, there have been so many mornings like that
in the last six years. It is an interesting, sort of, you know, question
as to why we object to the methods of slaughter but not the overall slaughter that the Syrian
people have been facing over the last six years. Syrians have been dying by bullet, by mortar,
by barrel bomb. And they’ve been killed both by the regime
and the armed opposition to the regime. I think a lot of people paid attention recently
because there’s something horrific about death by air, death by breathing in chemicals. There’s something that’s sort of tantalizing
about the horrificness of evil. It’s a way that you can see it in a more blatant
way. I think we’ve become a little desensitized
to the other kinds of death. The problem is after so many years of dehumanizing
Arabs and Muslims and Syrians in the global imagination… Do you think Islam is at war with the West? I think Islam hates us. ..that kind of dehumanization has led people
to sort of tune out and to think that what’s happening there is sort of inevitable. This is a question of culture, a question
of religion. I think part of the reason we’re willing to
let Syria go or let these sorts of things happen is because we’ve become accustomed
to really simplistic narratives about Arabs and Muslims. They will never have refugees or “rapeugees”
in their backyards. They just will not. This is part of the problem, is that we have
no idea who Syrians are. We have no idea what Syria is, even though
it’s this place of great culture and great civilization and great humanity. If it’s consuming our headlines, yeah, it’s
probably at that point risen to the level where we should take the time to learn something. I think the American public in many ways has
its own problems, but it has to realize that we are implicated in what’s going on in Syria. In the last six years, it has been unfortunately
only mostly Syrians mourning the loss of Syria, but this is something that the whole global
community should feel the loss of, because it’s our loss collectively. The places might not completely disappear,
but the people who make those places are going to have disappeared. It would be a tragedy if we only found out
about it too late, once we couldn’t do anything about it.

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