When Syrian-American author and civil rights lawyer Alia Malek woke up to the images of Syrians dying from a chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun last week, her immediate response was pain, anger, and frustration.
“But at the same time,” Malek told me, “there have been so many mornings like that in the last six years.”
Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, more than 5 million Syrians have become refugees. Moreover, at least 470,000 Syrians have died, the vast majority by methods other than chemical weapons. Yet it was the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun and the Trump administration’s retaliatory decision to launch 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian air base that resulted in heaps of media coverage.
This all led Malek, who has chronicled the story of her family and her time in Syria in her new book, The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, to question why “we object to the methods of slaughter, but not the overall slaughter of the Syrian people.”
Watch the video above, the latest from our Vox Voices series, to see why Malek feels the non-Syrian public has become desensitized to Syrian death and how the dehumanizing of Arabs, Muslims, and Syrians has contributed to the problem.