Finally somebody has found the best possible use for cat memes

Am I really going to talk about cat memes for the second time in my last three blog posts?

Too late. I’ve already started.

The entertainment value of posting cat pictures is widely documented. It works in practically any situation.

Including, as the fine people of Brussels, Belgium have shown us in recent days, when a nation is on high alert of the threat of terrorism.

Last week’s Paris attacks have had far-reaching implications, including in neighboring Belgium, the location where not only the suspected (and recently deceased) mastermind of the attacks grew up, but where other suspects implicated in the carnage are believed to be hiding.

Belgian catsConsequently, the typically thriving and tourist infested city has been paralyzed in recent days as Belgian military and police scour the area. Residents have been told to stay inside, and schools, museums, markets and public transportation have all been closed. During the hunt, 21 people have been detained, and police on Tuesday tweeted a photo of a man whose capture has clearly has become a top priority.

In cooperation with their search, police urged residents to not post any information of their whereabouts on social media out of concern that it may tip off terrorists.

But in today’s technological age, it seems like an unrealistic request, doesn’t it? People are obsessed with social media and receiving up-to-the-second news. Asking them to resist posting information on it is like asking Nicki Minaj to stop making bad music. It’s just what they do.

However, not only have the Belgians obeyed the request, but they’ve done so with a great sense of lightheartedness and levity — by posting humorous cat photos alongside the hash tag #BrusselsLockdown.

It’s provided a way for people to connect with their countrymen during a Belgian cats2fearful time, and I can’t think of any better way to utilize cat photos than this.

Even the police subtly got in on the fun by thanking its residents on Twitter alongside a photo of cat food.

I feel like if an American city was on lockdown, and police requested secrecy, some despicable blogger would post an update of their coordinates every two minutes.

Hey, don’t look at me! I’m not that big of a douche.

But I just want to take this moment to say that Belgians have won some serious respect from me. Even in the midst of terror, they’re able to show some personality and spirit. Before this, the only Belgian commodity I held in high regard was waffles. Not any more.

And it just goes to show — we may all look differently and speak different languages, but we’re all united in the name of silly cat memes.

ISIS, you can never take that away from us.

A deeply troubling anti-Islamic sentiment is upon us

I really, really wanted to lighten things up around here today and back away from politics in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

But there’s one more piece of unfinished business.

I’ve spoken about how the most powerful way to combat terrorism is to show that it hasn’t taken away your spirit or your heart. And I know that sounds like an overly simplistic, idealized, Care-Bearish way to think about it, but I firmly believe it’s true.

New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman today said the most tangible accomplishment terrorist groups like ISIS can achieve is to inspire fear. They can’t establish the type of Islamic state that they so badly want to. Not in Paris, certainly not in the U.S., not anywhere.

They win when their actions cause us to panic. They win when they make us rush to react. And they especially win when they divide us.

Refugees ParisAnd I’m afraid that seems to be what’s happening right now. At least in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attacks.

Barack Obama has stood firm in his stance to not put American troops on the ground to fight ISIS. His administration has, however, coordinated with the French military in its airstrikes of ISIS strongholds in Syria over the last two days..

At least one presidential candidate, Governor Lindsay Graham of South Carolina — whose polling so low he wasn’t even invited to FOX’s undercard debate last week — wants to send troops, warning that the next “9/11” is on its way from Syria.

But what’s most alarming is the xenophobic, anti-Islamic sentiment that has erupted across the U.S. At least 23 governors — all but one of them Republican — are taking action to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states.

Another presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal — whose so irrelevant I don’t even remember if he debated or not last week — issued executive action to blockade Syrians from Louisiana.

Donald Trump said he wants to inspect mosques for signs of terrorism. Ben Carson wants Congress to defund federal programs that resettle Syrian refugees in America. Jeb Bush said we should favor Christian refugees over Muslims.

It appears that people are forgetting that the United States’ history of acceptance of all people is what made it the global superpower and world leader it is today. We set the standard for diversity.

Quite simply, the America we know does not exist without the infusion of immigrants.

Does that mean we all get along? No. But the sudden discrimination of Muslims is as anti-American as can be. And it’s all because of the perverted view of a small minority of religious extremists.

It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be upset. And it’s certainly understandable to crave justice.

But remember who the enemy is. When we start discriminately searching for people to blame, that’s when we lose all the values that make us who we are.

Do you know what takes real courage in the face of hardship? Not giving into intimidation or fear tactics, especially those spewed by political stakeholders who have their own ulterior motives.

It’s up to you to make up your own mind.

Pray for Paris. But pray for Baghdad and Beirut, too.

The world remains grief-stricken over the bloody events in Paris on Friday night, details of which have begun to surface over the last 48 hours. The death toll has risen to 132, and many more remain seriously injured.

Residents of the French city have crowded around memorials dedicated to the victims, still in a state of shock and apprehension, as evidenced by multiple false alarms on Sunday that caused mourners to run in terror of a repeat attack.

The nation wasted no time responding. French warplanes have bombed Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Syria, making it clear that the world is on the brink of war, in some capacity.

Sympathizers worldwide have taken to Facebook to show their solidarity, which has allowed users to overlay their profile pictures in the colors of the French flag.

Beirut attack

Mourners in Beirut, Lebanon

Some disturbing rhetoric has manifested from people who crave justice. Many, like Republican presidential candidates, are blaming so-called lax policies during the migration crisis for the attacks, failing to comprehend that the people who are escaping Syria are fleeing from the very same thing that Parisian bystanders ran away from on Friday night. Others are unabashedly pointing to strict gun control laws in Paris as a contributor to the tragedy.

When unprecedented, tragic events like this unfold, it becomes easy to trick yourself into thinking that nothing else in the world is happening. That everything else stands still and that we should all focus our attention towards this one thing and one thing only.

But that would be a mistake. Because in the process, you’d be ignoring tragedies that happened in other parts of the world this weekend.

On Thursday, a suicide bomb at a funeral in Baghdad killed at least 17 and wounded 33. On Friday, the same day as the Paris attacks, suicide bombers in Beirut killed 43 and wounded 239. Both attacks, which ISIS has taken credit for, were targeting Shiites, which the Sunni terrorist organization sees as heretics.

The death tolls of both pale in comparison to that of Paris’s, but if the overlying message people have been declaring this weekend is that an attack on innocent civilians anywhere is an attack on all of humanity, than why should that matter?

Honoring Beirut hero, Adel Termos

Honoring Beirut hero, Adel Termos

The mass media is partly to blame, which has been focusing nearly all of its coverage towards Paris, and therefore impeding news of the Baghdad and Beirut bombings from reaching the general public.

An Indian blogger, Karuna Ezara Parikh, took to Twitter to voice her frustration over this disparity in attention by writing a beautiful poem that has been shared by thousands.

Ignoring these two deadly incidents also means ignoring one Lebanese victim of the Beirut attack, Adel Termos, who, while out with his daughter, tackled a suicide-bomber before he could enter a mosque, potentially saving hundreds of lives. The bomber detonated his vest in the struggle, killing himself and Termos. He’s a hero. There are mixed reports as to whether his daughter survived.

Everybody should know his name. Adel Termos.

Where’s the option on Facebook to drape your profile picture in Lebanese colors, some have lamented. Others point to the skin color of the victims resulting in the unbalanced coverage.

I think it’s inappropriate to compare the scale of these attacks to one another, or use them to fuel your own political bias. However, besides the higher number of casualties in Paris, it’s easy to understand why it’s getting more attention. It’s an iconic city that many people have visited and fallen in love with. A place of beauty and rich history. It’s among the most glamorous cities in the world.

The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about Baghdad and Beirut, two cities mired in the ever-worsening turmoil ongoing in the Middle East.

Pray for Paris, indeed, but pray for Baghdad and Beirut, too.

All three were attacks on humanity, in different parts of the world.

All three should bring us together as one.