Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why No Posts on Paris?

I have not written about the events in Paris here.  I did tweet some, but no blogging.  Why?  Not sure what I have to say.  While I am appalled at the attacks, I am not surprised or even shocked as terrorism is not going away, as Europe has experienced similar attacks recently.  The scale is slightly bigger than other European attacks, but the choice of "soft targets" is not new.  These folks wanted to do maximum amount of carnage, which makes it appear more AQ-ish than ISIS, but I will let the experts sort this out.

Lots of quick reactions by everyone, mostly demonstrating the power of confirmation bias.  This event has not changed most people's policy prescriptions.  And, yes, me, too, as my focus has been on humility, the theme of 2015 at the Spew.  That whatever we do, we should not over-react, that our past responses have not been especially successful, so doing more may not produce more security. 

More attention, of course, to Paris than to Beirut, Baghdad or elsewhere.  Why?  For all kinds of reasons: racism, familiarity, identification (the west feels attacks on western places more directly than those elsewhere as we identify more with the victims), connections (victims include Americans, folks from other European countries, etc).  One can focus on the ethnocentrism dynamic, but that too is confirmation bias.  Events like these resonate for all kinds of reasons, and the media seem to be able to focus on one event at the time, so this has crowded out the other attacks, the coverage of the college protests, the bombing of the Russian plane, and everything else.

Anyhow, take everything everyone says with a giant grain of salt... as my students do:
Student art from Poli 244, circle 2008

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