HomeOthers5 deaths at sea took over the world. Hundreds of people...

5 deaths at sea took over the world. Hundreds of people shrugged. – UnlistedNews

On a ship, five people died on a very expensive excursion that was supposed to bring them back to the life they knew. On the other hand, perhaps 500 people died just days before on a sordid and dangerous journey, fleeing poverty and violence in search of a new life.

After contact with the five inside a submersible descending on the Titanic was lost, various countries and private entities sent ships, planes and underwater drones in search of a faint hope of rescue. That was a far greater effort than was made on behalf of the hundreds aboard a disabled and dangerously overcrowded fishing boat off the Greek coast, when there was still a good chance of rescue.

And it was the missing submersible, the Titan, that drew enormous attention from news organizations around the world and their audiences, far more than the ship that sank in the Mediterranean and the lack of help from the Greek Coast Guard before it that would overturn

The submersible accident, at the site of a shipwreck that has fascinated the public for more than a century, would have wowed people no matter what. But it happened just after the tragedy in the Mediterranean, and the contrast between the two disasters and how they were handled has fueled a discussion around the world in which some see hard realities about class and ethnicity.

Aboard the Titan were three wealthy businessmen — a white American, a white Briton and a British-Pakistani tycoon — along with the billionaire’s 19-year-old son and a white French deep-sea explorer. Those on the fishing boat, as many as 750 according to authorities’ estimates, with as few as 100 surviving, were migrants mainly from South Asia and the Middle East, trying to reach Europe.

“We saw how some lives are valued and others are not,” Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director for Europe at Human Rights Watch, said in an interview. And when analyzing the treatment of migrants, she added: “We cannot avoid talking about racism and xenophobia.”

In a forum in Athens on ThursdayFormer President Barack Obama weighed in, saying of the submersible, “the fact that it got so much more attention than the 700 people who went down is an untenable situation.”

Status and race certainly play a role. in how the world responds to disasters, but there are other factors as well.

Other stories have been followed in detail by millions of people, even when those involved were neither wealthy nor white, like the children trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018. Their plight, like that of the submersible passengers, was one – of a kind and brought days of suspense, while few people knew about the migrants until they died.

And study after study, people show more compassion for the individual victim who can be seen in vivid detail than for a seemingly faceless mass of people.

But the disparity in the apparent concern shown by the migrants to the submersible passengers prompted an unusually caustic reaction in online essays, social media posts and article comments.

Laleh Khalili, a professor who has taught international politics and the Middle East at various British universities, wrote on Twitter that he felt sorry for the 19-year-old, but that “a libertarian billionaire spirit of ‘we are above all laws, including physics’ brought down the Titan. And the unequal treatment of this and the migrant ship catastrophe is indescribable.”

Many commenters said they could not express concern, some even expressed grim satisfaction, about the fate of the people in the submersible who could pay $250,000 each for a thrill. Before the US Coast Guard said Thursday that the boat had imploded and all five were dead, jokes and the phrase “eat the rich” proliferated online.

That schadenfreude partly reflects growing anger in recent years over economic inequality, the rich themselves and a growing sense that the economy works only for those at the top, said Jessica Gall Myrick, a professor of communications at the Pennsylvania State University, whose specialty is the psychology of how people use media.

“One of the functions of humor is that it helps us bond socially with people, so the people who laugh at your joke are on your team and the people who don’t are not on your team,” he said in an interview. Expressions of anger, she said, can serve the same purpose.

For human rights advocates, their anger is directed not at the wealthy but at European governments whose attitudes toward immigrants have hardened, not only doing little to help those in trouble at sea, but actively turning them away and they even treat private citizens who try to rescue migrants as criminals.

“I understand why the submersible got the attention: it’s exciting, unprecedented, obviously related to the most famous shipwreck in history,” said Ms. Sunderland of Human Rights Watch. “I don’t think it was wrong to do everything possible to save them. What I would like is that no effort be spared to save the black and brown people who are drowning in the Mediterranean. Instead, European states are doing everything they can to prevent the bailout.”

The gulf between the two tragedies was particularly stark in Pakistan, home to many of those who died on the fishing boat, and to Shahzada Dawood, the tycoon aboard the Titan. He highlighted Pakistan’s extreme division between the millions living in poverty and the ultra-rich, and the failure of various governments over many years to tackle unemployment, inflation and other economic problems.

“How can we complain about the Greek government? Our own government in Pakistan did not stop agents from playing with the lives of our young people by luring them to travel such dangerous routes,” said Muhammad Ayub, a farmer in Pakistani-administered Kashmir whose younger brother was on the capsized fishing boat. and is believed to have died.

One factor that made the two maritime disasters very different is the degree of familiarity, although that by no means explains the lack of effort to help the migrants before their ship sank. It is not just that some people are indifferent to the suffering of migrants, but also that migrant drownings in the Mediterranean have become tragically frequent.

The rescues of a few people in Turkey who had survived for more than a week under the rubble of a powerful earthquake in February – unusual victories in the midst of an unusual disaster – drew the kind of global attention rarely paid to the millions of refugees. of the Syrian civil war who, for a decade, have lived not far away.

In 2013, the death of more than 300 migrants in another ship disaster off the Italian island of Lampedusa raised widespread concern and increased rescue patrols. When Syrian asylum seekers began trying to reach Europe in large numbers in 2015, some governments and individuals portrayed them as strange, undesirable, even dangerous, but there was also great interest and empathy. The heartbreaking image of a drowned 3-year-old washed up on a beach had an especially profound effect.

Years and countless migrant boat calamities later, the deaths are no less gruesome but attract far less attention. Aid workers call it “compassion fatigue.” The political will to help, always irregular and precarious, has vanished with it.

“Nobody cared about the several hundred people” who drowned in the Mediterranean, said Arshad Khan, a political science student at the University of Karachi. “But,” he added, “the United States, the United Kingdom and all the world powers are busy finding the billionaire businessman who spent billions of rupees to view the wreckage of the Titanic at sea.”

The report was contributed by christina goldbaum of London and Zia ur-Rehman from Karachi, Pakistan.


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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