Aleppo is Aleppo, Not Anything Else
With the slaughtering continues in Aleppo, journalists are already comparing the genocide to other war disasters in history. Articles promoting Aleppo's children as the“New Anne Frank”, proclaiming Aleppo as the “New Hiroshima” dominate the already limited amount of news circling about Aleppo.
This type of comparison needs to stop. While putting Aleppo in the context of history is important, there is something especially heinous about discussing Aleppo only as the new version of another genocide. The little girls dying in Aleppo aren’t new Anne Franks. Aleppo isn’t a retelling of Hiroshima. These comparisons, though they sound compelling, do little justice to the people of Aleppo. It shifts their plight to an argument about whether or not Aleppo is really the new Holocaust, and tells their story as if it’s a tragic event that’s already happened, and not an ongoing horror scene of violence and destruction we don’t know how will end. Proclaiming Aleppo as a new version of a genocide detracts from the threat Aleppo’s citizens are facing, it removes us from the people who are suffering, it warps what Aleppo really is, an egregious breach of human rights, and an example of the horrors that take place when the West refuses to help, into a tragic story for us to consume then forget.
Comparing Aleppo to other genocides just makes it seem like Westerners are spectators, unable to do anything but watch things unfold. We are not watching real people die, we’re just watching the Diary of Anne Frank play out again. We don’t have a responsibility to help these people, all we can do is take in how tragic their death is. Yet, we are not just spectators. We are partially responsible. When there was time to intervene, we did not. We believe strongly in freedom of speech, but let what began as peaceful protests end in massacre. We turned our heads when the citizens of Aleppo were gassed. We closed our borders to Syrians looking for refuge. When they needed help the most, we refused, and now while they are massacred by the masses we dilute their struggles by comparing it to other genocides. Aleppo isn’t the new Holocaust or the new Hiroshima. It is a disaster all it’s own, a disaster that the West refused to mitigate. At the very least, we should treat it as such.