U.S. looks away from Aleppo

Published 10:03 am Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Muslim student at NYU says some Trump supporters pulled off her hijab and yelled epithets at her on a bus, then admits it was all a big fat lie. It’s disgusting and unacceptable.

But Muslim women in Aleppo are being raped.

Feminists are freaking out because Texas passed a law requiring clinics and hospitals to respectfully bury the remains of babies who have been aborted. It’s disgusting and unsurprising from abortion-rights militants.

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But babies are being massacred in Aleppo.

Donald Trump attacks the CIA for suggesting that Russians hacked into the DNC emails, thereby influencing our domestic political processes even though he himself invited them to hack into Hillary’s “30,000” emails during the campaign. It’s disgusting and typical of a man who said Vladimir Putin was “doing a great job.”

But the Russians are helping the Syrian government murder innocent civilians.

The world is ending in Aleppo. The flames are engulfing its streets, the bullets are tearing through the bodies of its remaining inhabitants, the earth is groaning under the weight of its new corpses, the air is filled with the screams of its dying.

And we look away, until we are forced to face the reality, a reality show that doesn’t have tidy, self-contained episodes and beautiful, botoxed faces and faux-tragedies like broken engagements. We look, for the few moments or days that we care to devote to the tragedy unfolding on our watch, and then move on to the next sound bite.

Is Alec Baldwin on SNL this week? Will Kanye be fitted for a straitjacket? Did Angelina get full custody of the rest of the kids she forgot to adopt from Ethiopia?

I’m disgusted. Aleppo, the place that Gary Johnson was too stoned to locate on a map, is dying. And history is repeating itself.

When the Armenians were exterminated by Turkey at the turn of the last century, the world pretended it wasn’t happening. The cowardly Turks still deny it to this day. Syria will do the same with Aleppo.

Then, when the Jews were being eliminated, nationality by nationality, from Western Europe, Felix Frankfurter urged Franklin Roosevelt to act. The American government didn’t want to jump into the conflict, and until Pearl Harbor, essentially closed its eyes to the genocidal wave across the Atlantic. Neville Chamberlain extolled “peace in our time.” And the smell of burning flesh and ash rose from Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen Belsen and Treblinka.

Never again, we said.

But again the horror came, in Cambodia, in Srebrenica, in Rwanda. Now Aleppo is disintegrating before our eyes.

The beautiful ancient minarets, the bustling market squares, the neighborhoods where people raised their children, lived their lives, are gone. The streets are filled with blood and smoke, and screams and people running to unknown destinations, but certain danger.

There was a brief ceasefire between the Syrian government and the rebels, and it collapsed as quickly as it was brokered. Innocent civilians were killed in their homes and during evacuations. Another was brokered in the middle of last week, and that also will collapse if the past is prologue.

I deal with immigrants from that part of the world in my legal practice, but I meet the lucky ones who escaped before the massacres began. The others are still there in Aleppo, which is dying.

Please, America, stop worrying about becoming “great again.” Stop trying to recount an election that is completed, sealed, served up and over. Stop pointing fingers across the aisle, stop caring about idiots who lie about hate crimes, stop listening to the pundits on cable news screeching about who met with Trump and what they had for lunch.

The average American cannot make a difference, cannot become a medic and treat the injured, cannot provide housing for the homeless, cannot bring sanity and stability to a city on the edge of the abyss, cannot force our government to finally, do the right thing.

But we can have the grace to pay attention to the dismantling of civilization this time around, and let our Syrian brothers and sisters know that they are seen, felt, heard.

We owe this, in the name of one million Armenians, six million Jews, two million Cambodians, 7,000 Bosnian Muslims, and 800,000 Rwandans.


Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia News. She can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.