Je suis les victimes du Boko Haram
Media blackout surrouding Boko Haram massacare is unacceptable
On January 3 of this year, two thousand Nigerian men, women and children were murdered. In the days that followed, while the world focused its attention on the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the victims of Boko Haram warfare went unnoticed. Comparing one tragedy to another would be an injustice to both acts of terrorism. However, the disproportionate media attention received by both these atrocities respectively cannot be ignored.
The Charlie Hebdo shootings embody a simple, quintessentially American narrative, where the heroes and villains are easily identifiable. Two masked men entered an office building, spraying gunfire into the lobby, taking a hostage and demanding their way into a conference room where they would continue to kill employees. The attack was on a weekly satirical newspaper, known for using their freedom of speech to produce material that played on race, religion and other sensitive social issues. The extensive press coverage of the Charlie Hebdo shootings highlight the glamorization of terrorist attacks on Westernized nations. The deaths of roughly a dozen individuals, including the editor and a number of cartoonists, garnered the support of millions, including 40 world leaders. The scene is painted with colors that accentuate the shooting victims as individuals who in the name of freedom of speech, protecting satire and self-expression.
Just 18 days ago, Boko Haram militants poured into the streets of Baga — a town in northeastern Nigeria — with guns and grenade launchers, claiming the lives of all those who were not able to run away, predominantly women and children. Amnesty International has communicated that this genocide could be the deadliest massacre to date, yet the act went virtually unnoticed by nearly all major American media outlets. The Boko Haram are the same militants who committed the Chibok schoolgirl kidnappings in which roughly 230 schoolchildren were taken overnight on April 14 of last year. In that instance, the catchy phrase #BringBackOurGirls dominated social media, demanding the attention of politicians and celebrities alike, from Michelle Obama to Justin Timberlake. Unfortunately, support for the movement was ephemeral, and the missing girls, 219 of whom remain unaccounted for, was abandoned across the media coverage.
The Charlie Hebdo shooting is a more palatable saga for the everyday information seeker to digest, because all parties are clearly identifiable and characterized. This Boko Haram incident is the most recent act of genocide in a string of terrorist attacks dating back to 2009. The lack of appropriate media attention attributed to Boko Haram may stem from the complexity and multifaceted nature of the issue. To solve the issue, direct action is required. No amount of water, food or clothing shipped to West Africa will rid Nigeria and its surrounding countries of the Boko Haram. Waving French flags out of solidarity, and sending a United States Ambassador to France to march in a rally is undeniably easier than drafting comprehensive plans to properly address the Boko Haram issue. However, the U.S. should not be expected to begrudgingly assume the position of international policeman. Initiating implicit military action against another country is not a proper political move for the nation at this time. But ignoring blatant terrorism further emphasizes the one-track mindedness of the 24-hour news cycle and its fundamental nature to resist complexity.