Last Thursday, seven-year-old Mohammad Abdel-Ilah put on his white clothes and cologne, combed his hair, and walked out of his home in Saada, Yemen. His father said that Mohammad had awoken extra early that morning out of excitement for a school trip he’d be taking.
That morning was the last time he’d ever see his son again. Mohammad and 39 of his peers were killed when a Saudi-coalition airstrike hit their school bus later that day.
According to UNICEF, Thursday’s strike was the worst attack on children since the war in Yemen escalated in 2015. Fifty-one people died, and 79 were injured — 56 of whom were children between the ages of six and eleven. On Monday, the victims were buried in the graves Yemenis had dug for them — all small enough for the petite statures of young, innocent children.
If you scroll through Twitter or turn on MSNBC, the devastation Yemen has been facing for three years will probably not be a trending tweet or a breaking headline. The Unite the Right rally, which fielded a whopping 30 white nationalists in D.C. on Sunday, will be, however.
White nationalists, like an aggravating, pesky child trying to get under another’s skin on the playground, thrive when they receive attention. Thirty basement-dwelling live-action role players don’t warrant the extensive media coverage that will no doubt last for days after the event, which was a total dud. But they’ll be riding the wave of free media coverage to evangelize their perverse philosophy, which will subsequently fuel outrage over these cowards and their extremist views, which vanishingly few Americans support.
They don’t deserve the airwaves, pixels, or analysis that they’re receiving. But the 10,000 dead civilians, 55,000 maimed, and 15 million without access to clean water in Yemen do.
Compared with the media’s fixation on right-wing fringe groups, the dire conditions in Yemen have provoked little more than tumbleweeds, let alone outrage from the general public. The media coverage is so disproportionate that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, despite being the worst in the world, has been referred to as the “forgotten war.” The “do something now” crowd is silent. Is it because they spent their whole portion of disapproval when the media jumped on stories of migrant children being separated from parents in holding facilities at the border? Perhaps, but it’s more likely that many of these same concerned people have no idea Yemen is starving and that the U.S. has enabled the suffering by selling Saudi Arabia nearly $1 billion in weapons that they use with impunity.
“I heard a loud explosion and there was dust and smoke everywhere,” Yahya Hussein, the boys’ schoolteacher, told CNN.
The scene can’t be described — there was body parts and blood everywhere. These were the children that were laughing, playing, acting very excited just a couple of days ago about their field trip. And now they were just mutilated corpses. I was frozen. I just started screaming, “Oh people, oh world — these are just children.”
The media are focusing their attention on a small group of white-nationalist idiots that an overwhelming majority of the country already rejects.
According to a UNICEF report, nearly half a million children have left school since the war escalated, and 2,500 schools are out of use — most having been destroyed in attacks. Since 2015, 2,419 children have been recruited as soldiers, and 1.8 million children under five and 1.1 million pregnant or breastfeeding women suffer from acute malnutrition — an increase of 128 percent since late 2014. The World Health Organization also expects a new “major wave” of cholera to hit Yemen, compounding the more than a million suspected cases.
As Yemen faces the largest documented cholera epidemic in modern times and parents are burying their children in makeshift graves, the media are focusing their attention on a small group of idiots that an overwhelming majority of the country already rejects.
Media decide the narrative, and they’ve decided not to cover one of the most consequential occurrences in the world today. They’re effectively choosing to keep Americans in the dark.
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