America First


It’s July 1st, 2016 in Boston, and I’m dreading the end of vacation and my return to school in Bangladesh.  I log onto Instagram for the first time that morning, and my eyes widen at the 40 new messages on my friends’ group chat.

  • “What’s going on?” I send.

  • A friend almost immediately sends, “You haven’t heard?”  

  • “No?” I replied confusedly.

  • “30 people have been taken hostage inside a restaurant. Everyone’s saying it’s ISIS”, My friend replies.

I immediately start googling “Holey Artisan, Bangladesh.” The first thing that comes up is an article from The Dhaka Tribune. Breaking news: 30 people have been taken hostage inside Holey Artisan in Gulshan, Dhaka by 5 militants claiming to be ISIL supporters. As I read through the article, my heart fills with fear. As if on autopilot, my hand reaches towards the remote to turn on the TV.

Except, there’s nothing. Oh no. There is something, something about yet another scandal Donald Trump has caused in his presidential campaign. But, there is nothing about Bangladesh, nothing about my country, where everyone is frozen in fear, dreading what will happen next. My parents Skype me an hour later, their faces grim, saying the situation’s not looking good. In 12 hours, I receive another call. Twenty-nine people are dead, and even more are injured. Yet there is nothing about the situation on American news media. All it can focus on is how Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is unsuitable to be president for whatever reasons.

Here lies my problem: America only cares about America. American news media is incredibly focused on what goes on inside the country, a focus that isn’t necessarily a bad thing except that sometimes, it seems to forget that there’s a wider world. News channels micro analyze every American political event, discussing every aspect in detail and attacking their opposing political group. But if something terrible happens in a third world country? Oops, it seems like we’ve lost all our journalism licenses!

Milton’s focus has not differed much from that of it’s home country’s media. The day after the Tree of Life shootings, we had a morning assembly dedicated to it and numerous discussions in our classes about gun control and anti-Semitism. But when the New Zealand shootings happened a couple months ago, no one talked about them, in school-wide discussions or my classes. It’s not that the New Zealand shootings are any more horrible than what happened in the synagogue, but why are we discussing one and not the other? In fact, the reason New Zealand got the attention it did in the first place was because it’s part of the West. Mass shootings and devastating tragedies happen in third world countries all the time, and I never hear people talking about them. And, it’s not because the lives of people in the West matter more to Western people. It’s because tragedies are expected to happen in third world countries.

It’s only when their supposedly safe and high-quality-of-living country is threatened in some way that people feel the need to speak out about these issues. Otherwise, it’s just something for those poor third worlders to deal with.

I understand that not every person who dies wrongfully can be mourned by everyone. It’s an impossible feat. But when I see a report of a massive fire killing over 70 people in Dhaka, it would be nice to see even the smallest bit of acknowledgement, instead of the repeated disregard for developing countries’ events. Just a thought.

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

Mark Pang