Looking Back

Published: Sept. 3, 2013

This op-ed criticizes the deeply-seeded American penchant for inane subjects along with its widespread ignorant disregard of deeper, more important issues.


VMA debacle acts as distraction from Syria


Americans gasped collectively as they watched what unfolded on their TVs. Parents held their children closer and shook their heads with dismay. And when it was all over, shocked expressions washed over millions of faces.

On August 25, 10.1 million people tuned in to the MTV Video Music Awards. Miley Cyrus’ eyebrow raising performance alongside Robin Thicke caused a tidal wave of criticism. In a hackneyed attempt to prove that she is no longer Hannah Montana, Cyrus twerked her way into headlines. While Cyrus was laughing all the way to the bank, families in Syria fled their homes in fear of being killed.

Writers galore penned opinion pieces dissecting her performance as degrading to females, discussed her embodiment of hip-hop culture, and her supposed racism. Her inauthentic performance, loaded with sexual imagery, served its purpose. It got people talking, but not about what really mattered.

The realization that a Disney Channel graduate’s actions took priority over a nation whose residents die daily at the hands of its leaders stunned me. Over 100,000 residents of Syria have died in the ongoing civil war. However, America’s attention was elsewhere while the Obama administration moved forward with its condemnation of the Assad regime.

On the day prior to the VMAs, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama agreed that the alleged chemical weapon attacks merited a response. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed 1,429 deaths including 426 children. On the day of the VMAs, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the United States believed the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

Chemical weapons, outlawed after World War I, wreaked more havoc than the standard bullets and explosives. Both Hagel and Karin hinted that the chemical agent Sarin was used. According to the CDC, Sarin works by “. . . preventing the proper operation of an enzyme that acts as the body’s “off switch” for glands and muscles. Without an “off switch,” the glands and muscles are constantly being stimulated.” Imagine a continuous cramp all over your body that leads to asphyxiation.

The taboo issue was made more “real” when pictures exhibited the bodies of victims piled in mass graves. The smooth, angelic faces of deceased children captured the horror of their last seconds. The issue at hand is that the American public’s attention should shift to more critical issues. With a decision as important as whether or not to strike Syria on the table, it is no time to ignore what is going on in the world. The choices made in the coming days could open up a Pandora’s Box in the Middle East, launching the US into another war. Does “dancing with Molly” seem so important now?

As Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told his Cabinet members in Tehran, “Starting this fire will be like a spark in a large store of gunpowder, with unclear and unspecified outcomes and consequences.”

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