We ended last week with multiple terrorist attacks in two very different countries. In France, 12 people at the headquarters of Paris’s satirical magazine Charles Hebdo were murdered and it seemed the world stood still. Why? The attack in France was an attack on free speech, democracy, religion and more. The democratic world took a collective deep breath; because in all honesty, that attack could have happened anywhere–anywhere that takes the freedom of it’s citizenry seriously.
During the same week, the African nation of Nigeria, experienced the most deadly terrorist attack, period. There are some that estimate the Boko Haram, extremists opposed to Western-style education and secular governance in Nigeria, attacked a rural northeastern village killing nearly 2,000 people. As if that carnage wasn’t enough, reports indicate that 3 kidnapped girls were used as a bomb to execute the strike.
Now comes the hard pill to swallow. The reaction to the deaths in Nigeria doesn’t exactly seem to mirror that of those murdered in France. Sure, we can easily look at the victims and say well, black lives don’t matter. However, after reading several reports, I don’t believe the reaction is that simple. Yes, of course we have race issues that impact our country’s response and/or desire to care. However, I do believe that the reality of both situations are lot more complicated then our guttural reaction. Given the state of race relations in our own country, it’s understandable for us to point to racism first.
What we need to realize however, like with most things, there are layers to this shit.
Last week, Rachel Maddow expertly explained France’s history of being targets of terrorism. Last week’s attack was not a “lone wolf” acting out; but instead related to previous attacks on the city of Paris that dates back to the 80’s and I’m sure beyond that.
Secondly, as Business Insider explains about the rise of Boko Haram in northeaster Nigeria:
It is a situation enabled partly by the Nigerian military’s collapse in the northeast. Nigeria’s army was once one of the most powerful in Africa, and it earned international respect for helping to pacify Sierra Leone and Liberia during the countries’ conflicts in the late 1990s.
But Nigeria’s politics and major institutions are highly regional and ethnic. And the military, which has seen its leadership, preparedness, and hardware all decline in quality over the past decade, has been accused of repeated human-rights violations in the already marginalized northeastern parts of the country that Boko Haram now controls.
“It’s hard for the army to make any headway when the average soldier who is up there is probably not from those states, not speaking the local languages, and are under-equipped and facing a civilian population that is distrustful and frightened,” Alex Thurston, an expert on Islam in Nigeria who teaches at Georgetown, told Business Insider.
Nothing is simple.
Consequently, what would make us all feel better however, is if each tragedy we hear about is covered by the media with the same vigor and intent to educate; which is why I appreciated Angelina Jolie’s statement today:
“Each new crime committed by Boko Haram exceeds the last in brutality,” Jolie said. “This is a direct consequence of the environment of total impunity in which Boko Haram operates. Every time they get away with mass murder, rape and the enslavement of women and children, they are emboldened.”
If we don’t hold all terrorists accountable for their actions their hate will spread. What would Boko Haram look like if it hooked up with a group like ISIS? I for one DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. Yet, when we allow the media to ignore or overlook violence and heartache that’s happening on one side of the globe, to pay attention to the other, it only feeds those that want to terrorize and destroy our freedom more. Meaning all of us who seek to be free. Why should care? We care because we are human. We care because innocent people are being murdered. We need to care because when we turn our back on injustices happening elsewhere who will be there for us in our time of need?
I am Charlie, I am Nigeria, I am Eric Garner, I am Trayvon Martin, I am Issa Nettles, I am Renisha McBride… I am HUMAN and I care about the state of our collective humanity.