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french

After the tragic attacks in Paris last week, there was an outpouring of grief on social media. Immediately profile pictures on Facebook were changed to display the French flag in a symbol of solidarity and support for Parisians. Of course, this outraged many people on RuNet. I watched closely the outpouring of yellow headlines and anger that flowed over the weekend. So many nasty and angry posts questioning why foreigners didn't display the Russian flag on social media after the Sinai plane bombing. What about Beirut? How about Turkey! Both countries also were victims of terrorist attacks in the last few weeks, though on a much smaller scale. Even more outrage when LiveJournal displayed the French flag on the homepage for several days. As a foreigner and tourist to both France and Russia many times, the reasons for the disparate public reactions are quite obvious to me.

France has consistently ranked as the most visited country by foreign tourists, with the USA in second place. I looked at the tourism figures for 2014, and again France is in first place - 83.7 million tourist arrivals last year. In the USA, there were 74.8 million. Now, let's compare these figures to tourism in Russia. In 2014, only 29.8 million tourist arrivals, a miniscule amount in comparison to the French statistics. So, you must understand that foreigners don't equate the loss of Russian life in the Sinai plane crash to be lesser than the victims of Paris. The difference is that large numbers of tourists from all over the world have visited Paris, have walked its cozy streets, and thus have vibrant memories and connections to the country. And this makes the grief much more tangible and personal. We don't grieve for the loss of a stranger in the same way as we ache when a family member or loved one dies. And to many foreigners, Russia is a stranger, a distant land upon which they have never walked nor explored. Moreover, it was not readily apparent that the plane crash over the Sinai was an act of terrorism. Your officials admitted this only a few days ago, and the Egyptians still refuse to accept it. With the Paris attacks, there was no doubt.

When Russia opens its arms and builds proper tourism infrastructure such that people from all over the world will come to visit and explore, it too will enjoy the widespread outpouring of grief and support that recently fell upon the French. I am certain of it. For me, the reaction and grief for the Metrojet and Paris victims doesn't differ. I have close friends, memories and experiences in both nations, and had actually just returned from France a week before the attacks. So it all seems very real and personal...however, to live in fear is not an option. This will never be me, and it's not in my spirit to doubt the goodness of humanity, which still strongly outweighs the horror. I am drawn to both France and Russia, though for different reasons. Each nation holds a special place in my soul and mind, and neither terrorist attack does anything to change these facts or feelings...

How about you? Were you offended by the display of the French flag all over social media and LiveJournal?



Comments

( 207 comments — Leave a comment )
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logofilka
Nov. 19th, 2015 04:42 pm (UTC)
Many Russians did not mourn the plain crash. They did not even try to engage in any form of "slacktivism" to make it look better. They just cannot accept the fact that somebody can mourn their victims sincerely, that's why they are angry at people who publicly display compassion.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:01 pm (UTC)
Exactly, I have hundreds of Russian friends on Facebook and none of them displayed the Russian flag after the plane crash.They only became offended when people reacted so strongly and emotionally after the French attacks. It's strange that some Russians would doubt that normal humans mourn the loss of the Russian victims. Of course they do.

Edited at 2015-11-19 05:01 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - logofilka - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - logofilka - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - at_master - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cybermania - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lion_lexx - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - atlanian - Nov. 19th, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - logofilka - Nov. 20th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - atlanian - Nov. 20th, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Nov. 19th, 2015 04:56 pm (UTC)
Not offended
Just got a reminder, that for West ~100 French are much more valuable then ~200 Russians. Noted.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Not offended
In fact, I said the opposite. Did you read the post?
Re: Not offended - Stan Podolski - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - theodorexxx - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - (Anonymous) - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Not offended - (Anonymous) - Nov. 19th, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - graze - Nov. 20th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC)
>When Russia opens its arms and builds proper tourism infrastructure..

Typical western hypocrisy. Like in G. Orwell's "Animal Farm" - "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL
THAN OTHERS.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
Where did I say one life was more valuable than another? No where. You wish to claim that you would mourn the death of a stranger in the same way as a family member you love? If so, then you are the hypocrite. Not me.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Nov. 20th, 2015 06:33 am (UTC) - Expand
a_nimaida
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC)
How does this relate to tourism?
I was not offended flag on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is a US citizen, an ally of France.
And if the owner of the Facebook live in Israel?


I feel sorry for all French students to Kenya, Jews (in Israel every day terrorist attack), Russians, Serbs, which was bombed by the French Air Force, Americans September 11 Lebanese, of all people pity.
How could it be different?
We all live in the same planet
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, we all live on the same planet. But this does not mean we react to ALL people in the same manner. Clearly you have stronger emotional reactions when tragedies hit relatives or people close to you in comparison to strangers. This was my only point. Probably I did not express it well, sorry. I'm in a distressed state because a family member was just diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. :((
(no subject) - a_nimaida - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fesma94 - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
sergechel
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
all this changing avatars madness is something wrong
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:21 pm (UTC)
I did not change to either flag - French or Russian. But many people live solely through social media now. Their identities are tied solely to the virtual world, and it's their main outlet for expression of any kind.
(no subject) - atlanian - Nov. 20th, 2015 12:03 am (UTC) - Expand
romanklimenko
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
Everybody's looking for the explanation why mourn France but not Russia, Lebanon or others. There was a post on NPR asking the same question. I was trying to explain it from racism that sits in us on genetic level, or may be a derivative of it - xenophobia.
But I think you gave a very precise explanation. We are naturally not very sensitive to others' losses unless the loss related to our friends or a family. And Paris is a part of our family
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
I'm glad someone understood what I was trying to say in the post. Can you throw the link to the NPR article? I love France and the French. Beautiful country, with open and friendly people.
qi_tronic
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
"
Were you offended by the display of the French flag all over social media and LiveJournal?
"

Yes. There were only Egyptians who did it in a right way.
They displayed three flags on the pyramid.

But anyway all these campaigns are useless.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree they are useless but this is just another form of expression. I did not see the variation that the Egyptians did. I don't know anyone from this country.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Nov. 19th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
beloborodoff
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
Russians not offended by this. Becouse they think this avatar coloring is a BS.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC)
Maybe this is true in reality, but not in the virtual world. I saw many angry comments about the flags in LJ posts.
ggreminder
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:33 pm (UTC)
I left a similar post on a forum with participants mostly from Russia. Somebody immediately called me a hypocrite in spite of the fact that I didn't describe my personal reaction but rather tried to explain why such behavior is observed.
I noted that not many people in Russia (and on that forum in particular) can even tell where the Lebanon is, and much bigger amount of people knows where the Paris is. The number of news from Lebanon and France reaching the Russian reader also cannot be compared.

People just think everybody around them is worse than they are so in their understanding if you didn't even hear about Kenya or Beirut incident but left a repost or a note about France - you have no excuse.
Also, many people admitted they have a right to gloat about what happened in France because Charlie Hebdo did the same about MetroJet plane with Russians aboard.

I'm glad that I live in Ukraine and can sincerely say I was equally shocked about *all* these events.

Edited at 2015-11-19 05:36 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC)
I agree with what you wrote. I don't understand why so many people on RuNet are upset about the Charlie Hebdo cartoon?? Who cares? If you find these satirical cartoons offensive, do not read them or buy the publication. And to gloat about the fact that the terrorist attacks were some type of justified retribution for a damn cartoon is lunacy. Completely incomprehensible to me. Do you know how many caricatures have been drawn with bullet holes, bombs, or blood coming from the Statue of Liberty? A lot. The magazine should continue to exist. It is a shining example of a free press and society. There is no legal basis under local law to shut it down. I read one comment on LJ, written by another person, that summed up the situation quite well:

"I've all understood - why Russians pay so much attention to this magazine that in France few people read and why the Russians think their cartoons reflect the opinion of the French. And just now it dawned on me - the Russians simply do not understand why this magazine is not yet closed as it certainly would be closed for a long time in Russia. Their chicken brain can't comprehend the thought that Hollande can not make one call and say "Close Charlie Ebdo." He can not, because if the magazine does not violate any laws, no he can not do anything."


(no subject) - ggreminder - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - janelight - Nov. 19th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aavenger - Nov. 20th, 2015 04:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 22nd, 2015 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 22nd, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aavenger - Nov. 23rd, 2015 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
at_master
Nov. 19th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
Ну ты дрянь, еще раз подтверждение американского двуличия и лицемерия , очень жду кармы в ваш адрес.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
What is hypocritical about this post? Please explain. I said I mourn the victims of Russia and France EQUALLY.
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cybermania - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - logofilka - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - at_master - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - at_master - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - graze - Nov. 20th, 2015 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - janelight - Nov. 21st, 2015 12:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Nov. 21st, 2015 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Nov. 21st, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cybermania - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - at_master - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
theodorexxx
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC)
For western media it's clear: a hundred savages in Beirut were killed, 224 barbarians died, 120 White People were killed in Paris.
I was offended that french people seemed to be more valuable for mass media.
Although I agree, bombing in the touristic city. Ah, amour ...and death. That's horrible. However exploding an aircraft with tourists isn't less horrible
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
The U.S. press covered the Sinai plane crash non-stop after it happened. It received just as much attention, even when it was not clear that it was a terrorist attack. Exploding aircraft is no less horrible than people being shot down on the street. I do not disagree.
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Nov. 19th, 2015 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 22nd, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
theodorexxx
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
Btw can you explain why it's so important to show flags, national colours and bring candles and flowers when a tragedy happens? Does it help victims or their relatives? Such a lemming reaction.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
Because flags are strong symbols in a lot of nations, including most European countries and the USA. They are a symbol of unity for the nation as a whole. It seems that this is a difficult concept for some Russians to understand, perhaps because there is not a tradition of displaying the flag in personal homes or public places, with the exception of government buildings. Plus, the flag of the Russian Federation is relatively new. The other gestures are just a symbol of support and solidarity and also a big "fuck you" to the terrorists. A reminder that people will not live in fear or remain locked in their homes, that they will carry on with their lives...
al_lex_ey
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
I find it really disgusting. People are bargaining for the conditions of just being humans. Not "Europeans", "Russians", "Americans".... Just humans.

OMG... what I am talking about?
theodorexxx
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
Oh c'mon if African terrorists murder a dozen of Africans many people will say "ok there are still a lot of apes"
(no subject) - al_lex_ey - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theodorexxx - Nov. 19th, 2015 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 19th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 20th, 2015 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
kkkostya
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:13 pm (UTC)
Nobody colorize own facebook page if somewhere in Nigeria, for example, terrorists kills 200 civil persons. The same for russia.
graze
Nov. 20th, 2015 04:02 am (UTC)
3rd world countries don't get as much media coverage, i thought everyone knows about this
(Deleted comment)
cybermania
Nov. 19th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not offended by this action with french flag. And thank you, Shannon, for your opinion. It was interesting to read about it.
What I really dislike is pics from Sharlie Hebdo ! This french humour is very disappointing for me. # Je ne suis pa Sharlie Hebdo
peacetraveler22
Nov. 19th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! Yes, the cartoon from the Sinai crash was offensive and distasteful, the same as most others published in Charlie Hebdo. But such political satire should exist in a free press, even if it is offensive to the vast majority. It's my understanding that this magazine is not widely read in France. It is only well-known because of the terrorist attacks last year and the amount of media attention given to it. In the U.S., we don't really discuss this magazine in news coverage.
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