Why do the lives of the victims of the Titan submarine matter more than those of the migrants killed in the boat tragedy in Greece?
In June, two horrific tragedies occurred just three days apart – a coincidence that exposed the glaring hypocrisy of the world’s response: Hundreds of people died fleeing danger sank without a trace, but five who sought him were revered and mourned.
The Titan submersible began its descent three days after a fishing trawler sank off the coast of Greece with 750 people on board (Photo by Ocean Gate/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty)
The sea sent a scary message in mid-June, following two terrible accidents. The first: a ship carrying 750 people across the Mediterranean, fleeing the hell of their country to what they thought was a safe place.
Crammed into a fishing trawler, they had paid the smugglers all they had to secure a place. The boat is nameless, it was old and rusty, with enough room for a quarter of the number of people on board. The passengers set off from Tobruk, on the eastern coast of Libya, unaware smugglers tricked them into telling them the ship was safe and assuring them that they would reach their destination.
On their way to Italy, near the Greek coast, their the ship began to sink, and issued SOS calls. But the Greek coastguard was slow to act, slow to report the impending disaster – and the trawler sank quickly. Result: a hundred people escaped by swimming towards the shore. 82 corpses have been recovered from the sea, while more than 500 people now lie at the bottom of the ocean, including a hundred children.
The second accident happened three days later, thousands of miles away, in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of the United States and Canada. Another vessel, a mini-submersible, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and fully equipped for a seven-hour voyage, descended 4,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. He was equipped with everything necessary to achieve his goal.
It was a question of browsing the wreck of a ship sunk more than 100 years ago, whose name is famous throughout the world thanks to the film: “Titanic”.
On board the minisub dubbed “Titan”, were five people: a British billionaire, a Pakistani billionaire and his son, the CEO of the company that built the submersible, and a former French naval officer who was a “specialist” of the submersible. Sinking of the Titanic – the object of the trip.
These five people, unlike the hundreds of people fleeing terror across the Mediterranean three days earlier, participated in the thrill-seeker party that cost them $250,000 each. They all signed an undertaking that they were aware of the risk of death during the trip, described as “exploratory”.
However, something malfunctioned in the ship’s system and, according to the initial investigation, there was an implosion in its core which instantly tore apart the bodies of the adventurers, whose remains are now scattered alongside the wreckage. of the sunken “Titanic”.
The world barely noticed the first accident in the Mediterranean. The main result was that political parties in Greece vied to outdo each other in their response, with one condemning the coastguard’s inaction in the face of continued distress calls, and another party announcing a period of mourning for the hundreds of victims that their sea had swallowed up. .
The image we received from the victims was limited to a snapshot of the fishing trawler, in the first moments it began to sink. We don’t know a single face belonging to a single victim. Just a few images of brothers, cousins, neighbors, rushing to the Greek port to see a relative, neighbor or friend.
They came from European cities near and far, where they had settled, having also fled the hell of their native land, before those who were on board the sunken ship. Their nationalities were mixed: Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian, Pakistani and Afghan.
As for the fate of the Atlantic adventurers, the media frenzy generated has become widespread. We have remembered the faces of the victims, their nationalities, their ages, their life stories, their talents, their fears, their courage and their love of science. There was not a single media outlet or news report – with updates widely covered – that didn’t speak of them in sad tones and publish photos of the victims.
Countless international organizations joined in the rescue efforts, including the US Coast Guard and six US aircraft. The Canadian Air Force was mobilized, as well as five ships and several submarines intended for deep water monitoring (it is now known that the US Navy had been remotely monitoring the vibrations of the minisub from the beginning, and that a few seconds after the accident, it had already been concluded that the ship had exploded).
When news of the explosion was officially announced, tributes poured in for all five victims. Messages full of sympathy and offers of support are pouring in, particularly concerning “psychological support” for their families.
And other mourners lined up to pay their respects: the White House, British and Pakistani foreign ministers, state dignitaries of all levels and nationalities, individuals and celebrities, news channels. An investigation into the accident has been opened, which may or may not be completed, but which will spark many scientific and philosophical debates.
These two incidents confirm the obvious: the rich benefit from a completely different treatment from that of the desperate, the miserable and the poor.
The synchronicity of the two incidents has placed this difference under a penetrating microscope. Through it, we see up close how the wealthy have personal identities, faces, and accomplishments, as well as grieving loved ones giving interviews on television and radio. The masses will devour it all with the same eagerness with which they await the latest fashions from the most famous celebrities and billionaires.
As for the desperate, those who were on board the fishing trawler, they have no name, face or story. We do not know what hell they were fleeing to, nor what fate awaits the survivors.
This information is not interesting.
The desperate and unfortunate are many: the stories of their drownings or murders, or of their flight from their country of origin, have become “boring”. It is the billionaire explorers – though we don’t know exactly what they have offered humanity in terms of new scientific discoveries – who are adored and celebrated, for whom the world is overwhelmed with grief.
If you try to divide the number of those who perished in the depths of the Mediterranean by the number of those who died three days later in the North Atlantic, you will find that the lives of each of those who enjoyed he level of luxury and wealth allowed them such “exploratory” adventures, is equivalent to 150 of those fleeing their country on this dilapidated fishing boat.
But if we consider all those who have drowned in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the waves of mass exodus from countries drowned in misery and suffering, we obtain an even more striking result: a billionaire is equal to thousands of desperate.
Indeed, in the vision presented to us, the sufferings are represented as a featureless mass, represented by a dilapidated fishing trawler. Opposite them are exceptional, extremely wealthy individuals, whose traits, life stories and exploits we have been filled to the brim with.
In front of them is a starship-like ship, also with its own personality. Improvements would be made there over the next decade, thus immortalizing the names of the five who died there and who would be called the “vanguard” – who gave their lives to science, perhaps also in martyrs, their names carried by other ships in the future.
Dalal Al-Bizri is a Lebanese writer and researcher. She writes for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the Arabic-language sister publication of New Arab.
This is an edited translation of our Arabic edition. To read the original click here. Translated by Rose Chacko
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