The following is a response to Andrew Unger’s essay, A Prayer for Boston (and Everyone Else).
On Wednesday, Andrew Unger wrote an article pointing out that the tragedies in Somalia and Iraq didn’t receive the same level of grief as the one in Boston. This kind of moralizing is, of course, nonsense.
Mr. Unger fails to mention that the people in Mogadishu weren’t tweeting about the tragedy in Boston, either. They were busy dealing with a tragedy of their own.
Mr. Unger goes on to write that North Americans would “probably have changed the channel” if the media had covered the 34 deaths in Mogadishu. This is true. I would have changed the channel because there happened to be a concurrent terrorist attack in North America and I live in North America. Canada is closer to Boston than it is to Somalia, and for that reason a tragedy in Boston is important to me. I know people who live in Boston and my father has run the Boston Marathon. Unlike Mr. Unger, I acknowledge that a hierarchy of lives exists. If you do not, I invite you to participate in a thought experiment: If you could only save one life, would you save your mother or a hobo?
If Mr. Unger were actually interested in the plight of people in Mogadishu, it should be evident in his articles. I invite you to check his Author Archive and determine for yourself what is important to him. The one consistent theme that I can find in Mr. Unger’s writing is the presence of Mr. Unger. His essay about Boston is no different. Using a tragedy to write about oneself is the behaviour of a solipsist.
UPDATE: Andrew Unger responds to this response here.