Have you ever seen “Groundhog Day”? It’s a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a Pittsburgh weatherman who, during what seemingly started as an ordinary television assignment to cover the annual ‘Groundhog Day’ in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself stuck in an endless and inescapable time loop whereby the exact same day would repeat itself over and over and over again. Yesterday, on Tuesday 28th June, three terrorists conducted an attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing 41 people. Obviously, this is not the first time that something like this has recently happened, and as far as I can tell, the response has also been a sentimental carbon copy.
You know the drill. It’s become all too familiar now. A few hours have passed since the attack, the news are spreading like wildfire throughout the internet, and who would have guessed… #PrayForTurkey is trending all over Twitter. It’s the exact response we’ve unfortunately come to expect. At the end of last year it was #PrayFor Paris, then #PrayForBrussels, soon followed by Orlando. The exact same messages of condolences and solidarity. The exact same kind of people repeating the exact same tired talking point about terrorism having no religion or nationality and blah blah blah blah blah.
Soon enough all the exact same world leaders will come out and make all the exact same sounding statements. A minute of silence will be observed in the affected country. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition will both make their solemn remarks in The House of Commons. The Eifel Tower will probably change its color. Some guy will show up with a piano and play John Lennon’s “Imagine” while a crowd of weeping onlookers film it on their mobile phones and put it on YouTube for even more people to weep at. All your Facebook friends will immediately become experts on how to defeat ISIS. Soon enough everyone will forget and move on, that is, until another deranged lunatic goes on a killing spree somewhere else and then the whole process may once again repeat itself. Are you getting those “Groundhog Day” vibes yet?
I don’t mind the sentimentality. I don’t mind the expression of solidarity. Frankly, as a filthy leftist who believes that people are often better off working together, I think that kind of stuff is often necessary; if only to show these bastards that our collective spirit cannot be broken by a few bombs and bullets fired at an airport. However for whatever reason, it’s the #PrayFor(insert location here) stuff that really gets on my nerve.
I think I know why. While mandatory and repetitive statements only express that aforementioned solidarity, prayers imply that there is some sort of solution. Pardon the heresy, but let’s be honest here, it’s really just a way of feeling good about yourself while really doing absolutely nothing. Unless you actually believe that somewhere upstairs there is an all omnipotent space wizard listening to all your problems. Well in that case, as of a few hours ago, #PrayForTurkey has been used over 300,000 times (on Twitter alone). If there really is someone up there, he clearly doesn’t care to do anything.