A friend on Facebook, pointed me to this great Op-Ed on the CBC by Neil MacDonald, suggesting that it was controversial, so this was my response:

You want an even hotter take?

What is happening in Aleppo is not unprecedented, or unusual. Look back, and there’s the bombing of Sarajevo, the Srebernica massacre, the genocide in Rwanda, and that’s only in the past 25 years.

It is, however, the first time such a thing has happened in the age of instantaneous live international communications, with twitter, and facebook and snapchat letting the entire world see, immediately, and in real time on an extremely personal level, the depths humanity is willing to plumb.

What is actually happening in Aleppo is sadly common. The novel part is that we can’t turn our heads, we can’t couch it in the terms of international diplomacy. People are screaming, and for the first time, we can hear them.


As a weird footnote, during the NATO air campaign in Serbia, I was on an email mailing list of artists and writers from all over the world (a concept that was in itself revolutionary in those days), and one of the other people on the list was a Serbian artist, who, in great detail and with great language, narrated the bombing of Novi Sad, where they lived and talked about all of the wonderful things that we had bombed. The buildings lost, the architectural heritage lost, and the lives that were lost.

“This,” I thought, “This technology will change the world”

It hasn’t yet, but I often think back to that random Serb, and his unfiltered missives, and it gives me a little bit of hope.


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16 December 2016