During the past couple of weeks, the latest divisive news story that is storming through the public’s social media feed is Syria and the recent events surrounding it. This started when the town of Khan Shaykhun was struck with a massive airstrike of Sarin gas, killing at least 74 people and injuring 557 more victims. This led to President Trump responding with a launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat Airbase. The morality of this act is still being debated, and while I have my own opinion on the strike, I instead want to focus on another problem: the way people are reacting to the strike.
The best word to describe the U.S’ reaction is surreal. While the majority of Trump supporters support the strike and the majority of his opponents have denounced the act, there have been some major exceptions. Some of Trump’s most die-hard supporters including Ann Coulter, Richard B. Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos have all denounced the missile strike. What is even more insane is that some of his biggest critics including John McCain, Fareed Zakaria, and Brian Williams all praised Trump for the strike. Williams called the image of the missiles being launched, beautiful. This is problematic.
There is a strong argument both for and against Syrian intervention, but the problem is those arguments are being upstaged by the “fanatics.” The argument against Syrian intervention by the three detractors I mentioned above basically equates to them saying that they are a bunch savages anyway, and so we might as well let them die.
This is argument is repulsive, but these are also far-right extremists with a very specific viewership. However, you have equally ridiculous fanatic pro-strike argument being promoted by more mainstream media that basically equates to “F*ck yeah, ‘Merica!” Examples of this include Williams’ comment, Zakaria announcing that Trump finally became a president, and “Fox News” showing the footage with Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue” playing in the background. That is not okay.
The U.S. launched missiles on another country for something their leader committed which did not involve us in anyway. Whether it was the right choice or not, we need to realize that this was a serious action that can possibly have some major effects, and treating the strike like something out of “Red Dawn” is only going to make it worse. We need to take into account what happens next, how Syria and its allies are going to respond to the strike, how our allies who supported the strike are going to handle this, does this now give us a moral responsibility to take in the Syrian refugees, and will this lead to war, but simplifying the attack to “watching bombs drop on the bad guys,” undermines all of that.
A military attack is a serious action, and it needs to be treated as such. When the media romanticizes and sensationalizes it, we start to forget that something that could be considered an act of war was committed and ignore the possible outcomes. We need to do a better job reporting on serious issues such as these.