Intellectual (Dis)Honesty – Boko Haram

Why is the Western world apparently ignoring the mass murder being perpetrated by Boko Haram – is there any justification? I sincerely invite your comments as I find this question particularly puzzling.

In terms of background, the United States Institute of Peace has reported that the local Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, fake Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law.

Furthermore, since August 2011, Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public places or in churches in Nigeria’s northeast. The group has also broadened its targets to include setting fire to schools. In March 2012, some 12 public schools in Maiduguri were burned down during the night, and as many as 10,000 pupils were denied ability to obtain an education.

The list of atrocities goes on, and for a fleeting moment, the plight of hundreds of schoolchildren that were kidnapped achieved prominence with the western media arena. The almost constant kidnapping of women and children, however, seems to go almost unnoticed.

By contrast, the January 7, 2015 attack and murder of twelve people in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and thereafter the murder of five innocents relating to the attack at a kosher food establishment (which may very well have been related) resulted in a march of over one million people with participants from forty countries.

Incidentally, on January 3, 2015, Boko Haram destroyed two Nigerian towns, Baga and Doron Baga. In Doron Baga alone, more than 3,100 buildings were damaged or destroyed. In Baga, at least 620 buildings were shattered.

While the number of casualties has yet to be established, the United Nations Refugee Agency confirmed that over 7,000 Nigerian refugees arrived in western Chad on January 9, 2015.

The big question is why?

Why is there such a great disparity between the media reports of the massive carnage and devastation occurring in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram, and the almost unprecedented level of media coverage regarding Paris?

Why is there such a great disparity between the public outcry for the plight of many thousands of people who were brutally murdered, maimed and displaced in Nigeria (almost nil) and the million plus participant public outcry for less than 20 innocent victims who were brutally murdered in France?

I have spoken to a number of colleagues, and while we are all puzzled, the range of answers within the universe of possibility seems even more troubling.

1. The Western world is much more sensitive to terrorism and/or loss of life in its own backyard.

2. The Western world can easily say that we will not stand up for events occurring in a foreign nation until its own citizenry stands up for itself. I believe that this position represents the view of the uninformed, because the citizens in Nigeria under attack are hardly able to stage protests, and the military seems to be trying to fend off Boko Haram without any meaningful international support.

3. The Boko Haram issue is viewed as an internecine fight between different factions of a religion/ideology and therefore, it is either inappropriate to intervene, or alternatively, exceedingly easy to turn a blind eye. In light of the fact that Boko Haram roughly means “Western education is forbidden” it seems difficult to take the position that this is “their” problem.

In the final analysis, I think the question we are forced to ask, particularly as Americans is if in the year 2015, we truly believe that “all men are created equal.”

While I generally write about healthcare, its attendant law, the United States government’s attempts to provide healthcare for all, I think it only fair to include a post of this sort as part of our collective and collaborative view on “healthcare.”

I would be particularly thankful, and would probably sleep a lot better, if the readers of this post were able to shed some light and help to reconcile how or why this disparity can be justified. Frankly, I fail to understand it.

What do you think?

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