Dangerous Double Standards in the Western World’s Coverage of War

Amanda Hanemaayer
3 min readMar 12, 2022
Photo by Uğurcan Özmen from Pexels

A few days ago, a video of a 4-year-old boy crossing the border between Poland and Ukraine went viral. Clutching a small plastic bag of toys in one hand, he sauntered slowly, sobbing.

He appeared to be alone.

Watching the feelings of devastation and fear unfold on his face, suddenly all the weight of everything I had heard and read about the tragedies unravelling in Ukraine stung from full blow.

In a matter of weeks, Russian aggression — orchestrated by a full manifestation of Putin’s unapologetic narcissism and unquelled lust for power— has severed families beyond repair, sullied sacred spaces of heritage and home, and bombed public institutions in the wake of its invasion.

More than 2.5 million people have now fled Ukraine.

It’s heartwrenching. I’m sure we can agree on that.

But while witnessing the overwhelming weight of war being borne by the back of a young child, I couldn’t help but think of the injustices the Western world willingly allows others to carry by choosing to look the other way when conflicts convulse in lands beyond its own boundaries.

Oppressors may choose their victims differently (although the pursuit of power weaves a common thread through the most harrowing moments of our past), but the worst consequences of war are always borne by those who never wanted it.

And yet the West weeps more for a child who is white.

Unequivocally, it has been a beautiful thing to watch nations across Europe open their borders to refugees fleeing Ukraine and to witness governments and corporations across the globe enact boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Russia in an effort to stifle its invasion and impose a bold pressure for peace.

The problem is simply that this empathy for the plight of refugees and enthusiasm for the legitimacy of resistance against an occupying power is not transferred to those who are non-European.

The double standards are astounding.

While Abdullah Kurdi — the father of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi — has been forced to live with the devastating loss of his wife and sons to the perils of the Meditteranean sea…

Amanda Hanemaayer

Striving to live a life defined by empathy | writing about climate change, public health and social justice