The terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 17 people in Paris have shocked and outraged the world. Almost six thousand miles to the south of Paris however, an estimated 2,000 people have been slaughtered by the Islamic terror organization Boko Haram, yet the world has barely taken notice. According to reports from Amnesty International the radical Muslim organization razed the fishing town of Baga in the Borno state, killing as many as 2,000. The dead are said to be mostly the elderly and children who were unable to escape into the bush. It is said this is the deadliest attack in Boko Haram’s history.
It might be easy to excuse the difference in coverage because the attack in Paris was highly visible and caught on video and thus overshadowing the Nigerian attack, but the attack on Baga happened four days prior to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. How can the wanton slaughter of 2,000 children and elderly people not even be considered newsworthy, let alone outrage the world? Yes, the murder of the cartoonists in France was an attack on free speech, but those dead bodies scattered through the streets of Baga will never speak again either.
Yesterday, Boko Haram strapped a bomb to the body of a 10 year-old girl and sent her into a crowded market in the town of Maiduguri, capital of the Borno state, and detonated it killing at least 19, a number greater than that killed in two days of attacks in Paris. Where are the headlines? Where are the newspapers that have proclaimed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, is there no solidarity with Nigeria?
Could it be that the story has not gained widespread attention because the victims were all black? I suppose that could have something to do with it, but there are many black reporters in our media that would have to be guilty of the same racial bias.
One would think our first black President, with roots in Africa, would at least issue a statement condemning the slaughter, but I can’t find anything that indicates he is even aware of it. If he had a son, would he have looked like any of the children killed in that fishing village? We may never know. Michelle Obama has not even renewed her vicious hashtag campaign against Boko Haram.
I do not believe racism is the reason few have paid attention to the massacre in Nigeria, I believe we have just allowed ourselves to accept these incidents in some parts of the world while being shocked when violence breaks out in places that are more familiar. How sad is it that we have let that happen?
We should pay attention to these murders, if for no other reason than our own safety. If the slaughter of thousands of people in an African village doesn’t get your attention, know that allowing this evil to exist also allows it to spread. We cannot wait until there are 2,000 bodies lying in the streets of one of our own cities before we recognize the danger posed by these people. Boko Haram is not alone in the world; the same level of barbarism is evident in the atrocities carried out by ISIS and by the Taliban. The same radical ideology that killed cartoonists in Paris slaughtered villagers in Nigeria, beheaded children in Iraq, and used children as human shields in Gaza.
Physical and geographic barriers will not contain this evil ideology, It is spreading unchecked around the globe and no one is immune to the danger it presents.