Thanks to the internet, and the fast coverage of the whole Russian war on Ukraine, we’ve all witnessed and still witnessing day by day the horrors of war and modern weapons. One of these bleak, sad but true horrors is the bias of the world towards a group of people over the other. Over the past weeks, we witnessed all over social media and news outlets the blatant, downright infuriating discrimination in showing support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine. While they deserve all the support and solidarity to end this horrific war, one sentence from the president of Ukraine made the whole world, especially us “uncivilized” folks nitpick at every solid and self-assured statement of support coming from every celebrity or influential person.
Blue Eyes, White Skin
In a news interview over the web, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “it’s unfortunate that we see this happening to European people with blue eyes and white skin.”
Another well-thought-out statement from a US news reporter along the lines of “This is a relatively civilized, relatively European city where you wouldn’t expect that” speaking on Ukrainians fleeing and hiding in bomb shelters, comparing the situation to countries where it “usually” happens like Iraq or Afghanistan.
The statements quickly garnered a massive backlash online, mostly in the funniest, bittersweet type of sarcasm but we’ll get to that later. The whole debacle showcased in the brightest of lights how the majority of the west views the whole MENA region, especially when it comes to conflict and war, in their eyes, we’re simply just, used to it, almost as if we were born with grenades for pacifiers.
The most prevalent double standard of all, even more than the racist statements on the news, those are for boring grown-ups, maybe social media will show the more progressive side of the west, and oh how wrong was that assumption.
Huge names in the celebrity world and high-end brands like Kylie Jenner and Balenciaga were quick to show solidarity like many of us with Ukraine and join most of us in the sentiment that war should never even happen no matter what.
However, just like us, the Hadid sisters showed the same solidarity with Ukraine just like it was Sheikh Jarrah in Palestine being attacked. So much so that Gigi announced on an Instagram post that she’s donating her profits from fashion month to those suffering in both countries. Of course, her mention of Palestine got censored by Vogue so that shows exactly my point!
Even more so, locally, our own Ali Farag seized the opportunity to talk about the issue at hand after winning the Optasia championship in London saying that “Nobody should ever accept any killings in the world, any oppression. But we’ve never been allowed to speak about politics in sports, but all of a sudden now it’s allowed. So, that we’re allowed, I hope that people also look at the oppression everywhere in the world,” Then, he continued saying:
“I mean, the Palestinians have been going through that for the past 74 years and, well, I guess because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the media of the West, we couldn’t talk about it, but now that we can talk about Ukraine, we can talk about Palestinians. So please keep that in mind.” Clearly, he said what’s on our minds without hesitation.
Without any comparison, I’d like to rest my case with these questions. Is humanity and solidarity up for devising just like principles seem to be when money and fame are involved? Does a celebrity have to be of origin to the place being destroyed just to show sympathy, in the cruelest to each is own people? And most importantly, does avoiding political biases apply only when the conflict happens to those with brown eyes and dark skin?
Back to the civilized world and the major backlash it caused flaunting its civility, social media platforms blew up with the trend “uncivilized”, starting with Instagram, all the shades of brown people shared their selfies and stories with the uncivilized tag to show the world how barbaric we really are, in universities, the workplace, parties, and even major events. On Twitter, the sarcasm was at a high with the caption not making fun of the war and its distraction, just the racism it highlighted. And of course, TikTok wouldn’t be the Gen Z platform it is known for without chaotic videos about toilet paper and other western staples showing how “civil” the west is, in the opinion of the creators of course.
It really is a war within a war, the highly militarized one of the mind of a tyrant, masculine, grandiose, mentality. A much deeper one going on for what seems like an eternity, the degrading, undermining look of the west to us people of the Middle East.