Apathy Is The Order Of The Day

Apathy Is The Order Of The Day
Dane La Born

Dane La Born

Last week, I spoke about the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. What I neglected to mention, and what virtually every news agency in the world neglected to mention, was that while everything was happening in Paris, Boko Haram, the terrorist organization and Al-qaeda affiliate, was carrying out one of the worst and bloodiest attacks in their history, leaving an estimated 2,000 people dead, though the real number may well never be known.

When I say the media largely ignored the attacks in Nigeria, I want to be clear that reporting on that and reporting on something that happens in one of the hubs of the Western world such as Paris are two very different things. With Paris, reports started pouring out minutes after the gunmen entered Charlie Hebdo. News travels in our world at the speed of thought, and this was no exception. So we watched, and listened, to everything happening in Paris.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram made it their business to destroy any possibility of common cellular communication. This was a small village, with thatch-roofed huts, that Boko Haram targeted, so tweeting about it, or even calling the police for help, was not an option. It wasn’t until long after the massacre, when survivors made it to other villages, that word started to spread of the monstrous deeds done in the name of God that day.

Nigeria’s leaders sent out various #JeSuisCharlie messages, but stayed completely silent on anything that happened in Baga. When I tried to find out why, I found out that this is election year for Nigeria, and that it’s highly likely the President doesn’t want to remind anyone how out of control this terrorist group has become under his administration. Nigeria’s finance minister sent out the tweet:

“Terrible incident. Our deepest sympathies to the journalists and their families. We are one with France in mourning #JeSuisCharlie.” This reflects the state of the world at that time, as no one was talking about Baga, but everyone was talking about Paris, myself included.

There is no plan for an investigation and no plan for violent retribution. Bear in mind that this is only one of many attacks carried out by Boko Haram. In late Spring/early Summer of 2014, they kidnapped over 200 girls, which the Western world may remember better through the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. Are we content to let this happen because it’s happening in Africa? That’s a rough hypothesis, but it’s what the evidence shows me. Think of our reaction to Ebola.

When Ebola was the talk of the world, it was only because it was being brought over, from East Africa, to our countries. Suddenly, it was a pandemic, at least if you listened to the news and ignored pretty much all of science. Ebola was going to be a grand killer, the next black plague, and we had to prepare. Then something strange happened. People started to be cured, and the disease started to vanish. Well, vanish in our minds anyway. While there are signs that the worst of the outbreak may have passed, Ebola is still very much a problem in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

So why, then, have we stopped hearing about it? The hardest answer to type may also be the most accurate one, and it’s quite simple. It’s not happening to us. By ‘us’, I mean the west in general. It seems we are somewhat content with letting this stuff play out, so long as it stays in Africa, or in a small country in the Middle East that we don’t need anything from. I recognize how terrible an answer that is to give, but that’s where all the evidence points me. Why didn’t we talk about the 2,000 people killed by an Al-qaeda affiliate in Nigeria? Because we were too busy talking about the 12 westerners killed in the same way.

No life is any more sacred than any other. I’m not saying we should have ignored Paris because of what happened in Nigeria. I’m saying we should have talked about it. We should have acknowledged that this monstrous thing took place. Anything less is just wrong.

Categories: Commentary