While the name Omran Daqneesh may not sound familiar, his face is impossible to forget. In August he was brought to a hospital after an airstrike in Aleppo. A photo was taken of the 5-year-old staring blankly, covered in dust and blood. The picture immediately struck a chord with people worldwide. It was retweeted thousands of times, redistributed in various forms to raise awareness and was widely understood as a shocking symbol of Syria’s overlooked suffering. Despite this widespread attention, however, the plight of Syrian children and refugees is still too often overlooked. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential nominee, was asked what he would do to address the refugee crisis in Aleppo. He, now infamously, responded, “What is Aleppo?” However, in their reporting of Johnson’s embarrassing answer, The New York Times itself had to issue two corrections after misidentifying Aleppo as the de facto capital of ISIS and the capital of Syria. In the first presidential debate, despite addressing several issues of foreign policy and national security, Syria was hardly mentioned at all. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 426 civilians, including 78 children, have been killed from Sept. 19 through to Oct. 4. So, when the election mostly ignores Syria even in the face of this rising death toll, we must ask ourselves: How do we make sure people care? Various social media campaigns have tried tackling this question. The UN created a virtual reality video, “Clouds Over Sidra,” in which viewers follow a young Syrian girl through a refugee camp. However, even without cutting edge VR technology, Syrians have been able to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian children through Twitter hashtags. One in particular capitalized on the Pokemon Go trend. Children in Syria were photographed holding up pictures of Pokemon, or in some cases, Pokemon were digitally photoshopped onto the photos of children amongst the rubble of war. The juxtaposition of the war-torn buildings and the Pokemon characters is unsettling and forces the audience to reevaluate their own priorities. However, not all awareness campaigns are created equal. Save the Children, a London-based NGO, created a PSA that imagined London as a country in the midst of a brutal war. The video and its sequel follow a young girl through the traumas of life as a child in a war-torn country and, subsequently, as a refugee. Though the campaign intended to solve the very problem we must confront — how to ensure that people know and care about the conflict in Syria — it builds empathy by placing a white child as the protagonist. This only serves to reinforce the racism that has caused such backlash against Syrian refugees and apathy toward the plight of Syrian civilians. Social media and all its awareness campaigns can also have the exact opposite effect of generating empathy. Seeing a photo of a child who drowned while escaping Syria shared on someone’s Facebook timeline ad nauseum may generate some level of awareness; however, it also has the potential to desensitize and dehumanize. While videos of children in hospitals may move us more than statistics, it is important to remember that feeling bad is not enough. The empathy generated by viral videos and awareness campaigns must be channeled into organizing, donation and political pressure. Lena Melillo is a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law and gender studies. Her column, “’Pop Politics,” runs every Thursday.
Kevin De Bruyne has admitted he will consider his future if Manchester City’s two-year ban from European competition stands.The Premier League champions have been banned from all UEFA competitions for the next two seasons for “serious breaches” of Financial Fair Play rules but have appealed against the punishment to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).De Bruyne’s current contract with City runs until June 2023 and although he is “happy” at the club, the Belgium midfielder says a long exclusion from Europe’s elite competition could have an effect on his career path.“The club has told us that they will appeal the decision, and they are 100 per cent convinced that they are in the right,” De Bruyne told Belgian outlet Het Laatste Nieuws.“I have confidence in my club: if they are saying it’s true, then I believe them. We’ll wait and see what happens. Once there’s a final decision I will look at it.“Two years [without Champions League football] would be long. One year is something I might be able to cope with.”De Bruyne has denied his future also rests on manager Pep Guardiola remaining at the Etihad.Guardiola’s current deal is due to expire in June 2021, although the Spaniard said in November he is open to the possibility of extending his contract.De Bruyne insists his next career choice will not depend on Guardiola signing a new deal.“Not particularly,” he said. “I think Pep has said that he’ll stay until the end of next year, whatever happens. I think his contract is running out then.“We’ll have to wait, but I’m not going to make a decision based on what he does of course. I have already worked under other managers and when Pep leaves, I have to continue working with someone else.“The last few years a lot of clubs have enquired, and have asked after my future plans, but I’m very happy at Manchester City. I play for one of the best teams in the world, I play in England, in my eyes from a competitive point of view it’s the best league.“It’s a challenge to be the best here, and to win. That’s something I need to keep on going in my career. Whatever will come, will come.”Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the football season into an impromptu break, City were pushing for a Champions League quarter-final spot and sat second in the Premier League, 25 points behind leaders Liverpool.All 20 league clubs have confirmed their willingness to complete the current season, with the “Project Restart” protocol being presented in a conference call on Friday to outline the procedures to allow players to return to full training.“My feeling says that we may be able to train again within two weeks,” added De Bruyne.“The government wants to restart football as soon as possible to give people something.“Everything will be played without fans, I think. That is not so exciting for anyone, but the season will at least be finished. The financial aspect is far too important in the Premier League. If the season is not finished, it will cause serious problems.“When the league resumes, I don’t really see this as an extension of last season. This feels more like the start of a new season. I have never had such a long break in my career.“Well, I’m not going to complain about it. Greater powers are at work. Whatever is said and decided, I agree with that.” Source: Sky Sports