College students are often unfairly stereotyped as narcissists who can’t see beyond the campus bubble.
But we might also hope that when a tragedy like the attacks in Paris occur, they will be shaken into awareness.
This does not appear to be the case for many of America’s coeds.
Supporters of the recent campus protests have earned criticism both at home and abroad for complaining about how the Paris attacks, which resulted in 129 deaths, and injured hundreds more, stole attention from their own demonstrations.
“It’s black kids trapped in their rooms in #Mizzou but y’all talking bout #PrayforParis… fuck Paris #PrayforMizzou” tweeted someone under the alias Sleaze Rich Porter, who claims to be a student at Central State university (which is in Ohio) according to this Twitter bio.
MailOnline included screenshots of the tweet, which appear to have since been deleted.
His tweets weren’t the only ones the MailOnline included. The website cited a Twitter user under the name @SankaofaBrown who tweeted, “Notice how easily white people empathize w/victims of international terrorism while denying the terrorism inflicted upon us.”
According to his website, Sankofa Brown is an activist and poet from Kinston, North Carolina who has spoken at St. Johns University, Miami University of Ohio, Washington State University, American University, Bowie State University, and University of Maryland—College Park.
From his tweets, he also appears to sympathize with ISIS, at least to a degree. Brown tweeted in response to the reports that France was bombing the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa: “Will the innocent people killed there be considered victims of terrorism?”
Ernest Owens, a 2014 graduate of University of Pennsylvania, posted similar sentiments about the unfair amount of sympathy for the Paris victims on his Facebook wall. He posted on November 13, hours after the horrors of the bombings and shootings hit the wires”
“Interesting how some folks on my timeline can automatically jump and respond to the unfortunate tragedy happening in Paris...but for 48 hrs have remained silent to the current racial climate on campuses happening here in America.
But that's just a coincidence, right?”
Equating the terrorist attacks in Paris with pleas to end “microaggressions" and an end to insensitive Halloween costumes seems utterly absurd, of course.
When The Daily Beast spoke with Owens, he stood by his Facebook posts. “The world overall needs to be healing from oppression, whether done by a terrorist attack or by a campus president, and it should be taken and reflected upon. I think it’s nasty when people want to make a mudslinging Olympics, an oppression Olympics of comparing,” he said.
Owens explained that his posts were precipitated by seeing people post about how in light of the Paris attacks, “the Mizzou kids can see what real strife feels like,” which he found to be a “gross sharing of information that really offended me.”
Owens said that he described the attacks in Paris as “unprecedented” and even compared them to the September 11th attacks in the U.S. He also pointed to how he changed his Facebook picture to have the French flag filter as proof of his sympathy.
When asked if he thought the college protests should be in the same category of mourning and attention as the Paris attacks, Owens said, “I don’t think there’s a category.” He proceeded to cite the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
It’s hard to imagine that King intended for his words to be used in a way that, even if unintentionally, downplays the horror and mourning around a mass attack on civilians, such as the one in Paris last Friday night.