LOOK: I GET NOT LIKING KIM KARDASHIAN. Her particular brand of televised, privileged narcissism is revolting, and she doesn’t really add much of use to the world. Nor do I blame anyone for not having much sympathy for the troubles of the One Percent. But last weekend, Kim Kardashian, who was in Paris for fashion week, was robbed in her hotel. She was held up at gunpoint by men dressed up as police officers, was tied up, and then was robbed of millions of dollars worth of jewelry.
Her husband, Kanye West, canceled a gig mid-show when he heard, and Kardashian, famous for her active social media life, has been off the grid since the incident.
Twitter, naturally, decided to be a dick about it, with trolls wishing she’d been shot, other suggesting it was good news and that she’d deserved it, and with others claiming it was a falsified story, like Ryan Lochte’s robbery in Brazil during the Summer Olympics.
Being robbed is terrifying
I’m a longtime traveler, and I have had my fair share of scares while abroad. I’ve been pickpocketed, scammed, and burgled (though never robbed at gunpoint — I’m a big dude, so people tend to opt for the sneakier crimes with me over the more confrontational crimes). And while I personally have never been through anything nearly as harrowing as Kim Kardashian, I can speak to the intense sense of insecurity that comes from being targeted by criminals abroad.
Aside from the obvious risk to your life and limb, it suggests that the criminal element of the area you are staying in has identified you, and that you have been deemed a worthy target. You ask — is it my clothes? Is it the way I carry myself? Was I too conspicuous with the way I carried that camera?
Then it dawns on you that, if they were to lose all of your money in a place where you don’t speak the language and don’t know anybody, you are basically stranded. You become totally reliant on the kindness of others. Which is a pretty terrifying state to be in on foreign soil.
What it’s like
If you yourself have never been robbed, you may have felt something similar anyway — have you ever been in your car, driving along in the snow or the rain, and pressed on the brakes only to find that your car isn’t slowing? That it is, instead, skidding or hydroplaning, and that you are no longer in full control of it?
The feeling you get after this happens is that you can no longer totally trust your car — it may go back to normal when you get out of the rain or snow, but the veil has been lifted. The instrument that has always been so responsive to your commands has its limitations. There are instances when you are out of control while you are in it. And those instances can seriously, seriously hurt you.
Getting robbed has a similar feeling, but instead of feeling anxiety when you get into a car, you feel anxiety when you’re around other people. You worry that they can’t be trusted, that any one of them may be plotting to hurt or steal from you. And this insecurity is deeply, deeply frightening on a very primal level.
No one deserves to be robbed — but the victims go beyond Kim Kardashian
All of which is Kim Kardashian is going through a pretty rough time right now. Her world is normally as sparkly and gilded as a toilet bowl in Trump Tower, but she knows now that bodyguards and limousines and private jets and luxury suites can’t totally protect her.
No one deserves to be robbed, even if you don’t like that person. To giggle at their misfortune is a failure of empathy, and it’s something we should be above as humans.
But it’s also important to recognize that the people that took the worst hit here was not the Kardashians, who likely had their jewels insured — it was the everyday Parisians who depend on tourism dollars for their jobs. Tourism to France has dropped significantly as a result of recent terror attacks, and this high-profile robbery is not going to help that downward decline. France consistently has more tourists than any other country in the world, so its economy is heavily dependent on tourism dollars.
This means that basically only two groups of people benefit from this robbing: the robbers themselves, and the far-right politicians who have been using fearmongering around France’s perceived insecurity to exert more and more of their influence over the country.
Snide jokes about a human being going through something terrible are tasteless, bad humor. This is sad. That’s all.