Translated from Dutch site De Correspondent today:
While everyone on Facebook hoisted the French flag, Hanna (18 years old) coloured her profile picture with the flag of Syria. It led to a lively WhatsApp conversation with her father, who gradually found it more and more difficult to reply. An eighteen-year-old proves to have insight many government leaders still have a lot to learn about.
WhatsApp after Paris: how Hanna (18) teaches her father a lesson
Hanna Nijenhuis (18)’s school essay was about why the United States did win two world wars, but not smaller wars. Now she learns German in Berlin. Hans Nijenhuis (53) is her father and works at NRC Handelsblad daily. This is their WhatsApp conservation on Monday night.
Hanna: Are you tired of all those French flags on Facebook as well? And of all that #prayforparis? The whole internet is red, white and blue.
Hans: What do you mean? That is a mark of solidarity, that is good?
Hanna: Solidarity is good, but why only #prayforparis? In Beirut, two days before Paris there were also [ISIS] attacks with many deaths. And I see no Lebanese flags. I think you do not even know how a Lebanese flag looks while you put the French victims with their portraits in the newspapers. And heroic tales of the survivors. I have never read an account of a Lebanese.
Hans: Paris for us is simply closer. That city stands for values that we share. For our way of life. Remember when we were there together, a few years ago, how much you liked it? All those cafés, lively everywhere.
Hanna: Yeah okay, I know what you mean. But in Lebanon they want to live as well. The way they live is not important, right? Do you know at all what values they stand for there? In Lebanon fathers and daughters live too, shouldn’t you feel compassion for them? The Western media have a Western viewpoint. And you pretend that’s the whole truth. As if the West is the only thing that matters. I’ve changed my profile picture to the Syrian flag. I do not only support France.
This is a ‘twibbon’ expressing solidarity with both the French and Lebanese victims and survivors of ISIS violence. You can put it on your Facebook or Twitter account here.
Hans: But we also support Syria! We receive tens of thousands of refugees. And we bomb Islamic State (ISIS). Roger Cohen, an influential columnist, says that we should seize the international outrage to destroy ISIS once and for all. ‘To Save Paris, Defeat ISIS’, Cohen wrote in The New York Times. Francois Hollande and Mark Rutte speak of a “war”.
Hanna: You read columnists, I have my school essay. I will pick it up in a moment, wait. And meanwhile, you can explain what you mean by war.
Hanna: So, bombs. That means collateral damage in the form of innocent lives, I wrote in that paper. Fathers and daughters who have nothing to do with ISIS and do not want to.
Hans: That’s annoying, but ISIS also causes the loss of innocent lives!
Hanna: And that is exactly why we hate ISIS so much. But with all that bombing we do the same. We do not want to be better than them? And even if you did not see it as a matter of principle, do all these military actions make sense? In Afghanistan and Iraq, we went after the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, but the people there saw something else. They saw Western soldiers in their streets who did not belong there. And that drove them increasingly towards the terrorists. I get that. Honestly, would you like it if the Iraqis suddenly would come marching through our streets? The terrorists make use of that feeling. They then pretend to be the good guys. …
It is classic Al Qaeda, Dad: provoke the Western world, so that those countries will venture into Muslim territory, and support for terrorists will increase. It is in one of the books I have used, The accidental guerrilla by David Kilcullen. You should read it.
Hans: In Afghanistan, girls now go to school. …
So says the war propaganda. It practice, it turns out that invasion by foreign troops did not bring any change in the low numbers of Afghan girls going to school.
Hanna: Wake up, Dad! America’s war on terror after 9/11 did much more damage to the USA than the attack itself. Detention without trial in Guantanamo, water-boarding, drone attacks with civilian casualties, an unstable Iraq where ISIS could establish itself. And especially for you because you like to think economically: the attacks on the Twin Towers by terrorists cost an estimated $ 500,000. In the war on terror, America has spent more than $ 700 billion.
They drain you, Dad.
Hans: What do you suggest?
Hans: The French do their best. The border is controlled tightly, the Molenbeek district of Brussels [in Belgium] is searched thoroughly.
Hanna: I see it all. White men in Audis are waved through, everyone with a dark complexion is a suspect and is searched. And such a ‘thorough search’ – not everyone living there is an accomplice, huh. The way the search happens will lead to new enemies, frustration, exclusion. All of these are sources of radicalization. …
Hollande wants to extend the state of emergency by three months. Then they will be able to do so searches and arrest people anywhere. The borders are closed again. More police on the streets. And again, people like you and me will not notice much of it. But anyone with an ‘oriental’ appearance will. A few more attacks and we will no longer have va rule of law but a police state.
Hans: Okay, but how are things with you in Berlin?
Hanna: Everyone is afraid of Muslims attacking. I’m afraid of Westerners who still massively hate Islam. I read this reaction to a report about the French bombing of Raqqa: “A carpet of bombs like in Dresden should be effective: demoralize the population.” How could anyone want to let that happen again? That’s what I consider scary.
Just as innocent – comparing Beirut and Paris. A Lebanese journalist asks why we categorise Lebanese victims as we mourn French ones: here.
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