Another day, another 10 score drowned at sea

Another day, another 10 score drowned at sea. If this were a just world, and not just a world, there would have been a bus waiting on the other side of the border, a bus that would ferry to safety those traumatized so much that they must leave their home.  That someone would flee home would be evidence enough that some wrong was so grievous that sanctuary should be provided. No one should have to risk everything for a ride on a rubber raft in choppy waters.

But the problem is that we in the West have muted their voices, just as you might turn down the sound on the television. They are rendered “of no account in a relation of dependence on the oligarchs,” to borrow a phrase of Jacques Ranciere’s out of context (Disagreement, p. 22). Refugees at sea, they are victims of a “symbolic distribution of bodies that divides” people “into two categories: those that one sees and those that one cannot [or does not] see.” And we might add, those we can hear and those we do not, “those who have logos—memorial speech, an account to be kept up”—and those who are deemed as having no logos with which to reckon.

Another day, another crime against humanity.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.

1 comment

  1. And it seems too often those that are not seen, those that are not heard share that one common trait – skin pigment of darker hue. God, if you exist, forgive us our blindness.

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