Talon

The inhibitions of American selfishness

We’re oblivious to global news

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In seventh grade, I remember sitting down in Mrs. Stein’s classroom, listening to the lesson on World War II. It took a second for naive, 12-year-old me to understand that there was no evil witch, devil or mythical force behind the genocide, only man was to blame. But the atrocities committed in WWII did not end with the Allied victory.

There are regions today that house internment camps and prison camps, targeting specific groups of people under the guise of national safety, or political re-education. Among them are China, Chechnya and North Korea.

I know that when I first heard of this my immediate question was, how could such monstrosities fly so low under the radar, so low that there is almost no uproar?

The problem here is that there is no righteous decrying of these places or governments that authorize the inhumane treatments of innocents. We choose to remain focused on a self-concerning matter: national news.

Turn on the news, and the headlines will most likely be (gasp) a new scandal within the Trump administration. All our eyes are drawn to it, and there never ends up being any conversation about global issues outside a narrow scope.

I hear arguments, debates and discussion about the latest policies within the Democratic and Republican parties, but never any talk about the bigger, inclusive issues.

The American attitude leans toward independence and selfishness. Normally, those survivalist qualities are necessary to thrive in this society of Darwinism. However, those exact characteristics work against us when it comes to extending the same focus and passion to international incidents.

What really boils my blood is knowing that while I’m sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying whatever snack my 3 a.m. cravings are demanding while watching the new story that’s clouding CNN, Fox or ABC, there are those wondering if they can survive the day.

According to the Global News television network, China is detaining, religiously restraining and politically indoctrinating close to one million Muslim Uighurs as well as people with relatives in 26 “sensitive” countries in internments camps in Xinjiang, China. The agenda seems to be a nationalistic drive towards eliminating an Islamic presence in China.

The detainees are not allowed to participate in Islamic greetings, and are instead forced to learn Mandarin and sing songs of propaganda. Punishments for noncompliance include being denied food, standing for 24 hours and complete solitude.

Where’s that righteous indignation many Americans have for the Trump administration when it comes to the Muslim Uighurs?

According to the Independent, North Korean prison camps have inmates beaten, illegally executed, raped and starved. Former guard Lim Hye-jin spoke of his former indoctrinated belief that is common among guards that the imprisoned are real criminals, when in fact they are innocents who simply didn’t conform to the North Korean communist and hyper-nationalist regime.

If this was even a rumor about something like this happening in America, there would be riots and protests all over the streets in multiple states. There would hashtags haunting every story, and posts on every private account on Instagram.

According to the Guardian, in the Chechen Republic a Russian-controlled and Chechen compliant agenda targeted gay and bisexual men and placed them in internment camps where they are beaten, starved, humiliated and tortured — to this day (!!).

I’m sure that I have not even mentioned half of all the internment camps, prison camps or re-education camps, because I have the American attitude instilled in me too — I have the narrow-minded national focus that keeps me and many of you from seeing the world with a two pronged perspective on the world: one that focuses on this country, and another that focuses on the world.

Look, I understand the ‘why should we care if it doesn’t affect us’ attitude.

But, awareness goes a long way. Global news deserves our awareness.

By spreading the truth, you spread awareness and the same righteous indignation we have for American political scandals. That righteous indignation sheds a light on topics, and the more light we shed and attention we pay, the more likely we can get the government, the United Nations and other places of power to do what’s necessary.

Righteous indignation: it’s what we’ve got, and what we need.

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About the Writer
Atmika Iyer, Opinion Editor

Atmika Iyer is a junior at Oak Park High School. She is currently the 2018-19 Opinion Editor.

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