Murder Of Journalist Khashoggi Helped Spur U.S. Members Of Congress To Call For End Of Support For Saudi-Led War In Yemen
POLITICO Magazine: Why Congress Suddenly Cares About Yemen
Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research and professor of psychology at the University of Oregon; and Andrew Quist, research associate at Decision Research, both co-editors of the website The Arithmetic of Compassion
“…When we assess the importance of large-scale humanitarian crises, the more people who die, the less we care. … Even worse, as the number of lives in danger increases, we sometimes lose feeling, and assign no value at all to the total number of lives. They become mere statistics. These insights into our moral psychology help to explain the sudden upsurge of congressional interest in ending support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. … What has changed? This time, there was a single, high-profile victim of the Saudi regime whose brutal murder received enormous publicity not afforded to the many other victims that preceded his death: Jamal Khashoggi, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and columnist for the Washington Post who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October. … Ironically, the story of Khashoggi’s gruesome death stirred emotional outrage that his pleas on behalf of millions of starving Yemenis and mountains of statistical evidence did not create. … There is a strong and important message here: To draw meaning from the statistics of disaster, no matter how large the scope, we cannot rely only on our gut feelings. They seduce us into calmly turning our backs against massive abuses when we should be driven by outrage to act…” (12/5).
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