Friday, May 9, 2014

Boko Haram

Here’s some advice for you early risers out there. Don’t start reading through news headlines before having your first cup of coffee. There I was a few days ago waiting for mine to brew, scrolling through the headlines on Drudge. I saw the big screaming letters but didn’t believe it could possibly be true. I mean, sometimes you see some weird stuff on Drudge, but this was off the chain weird. Procol Harum had gotten back together and kidnapped 300 Nigerian girls? The band that gave my generation, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” had turned into a terrorist group? For crying out loud, has the world gone mad? Then I walked into the kitchen, poured myself a freshly brewed cup of Gevalia traditional roast, sat back down and read the full story. It was actually a legit group of Muslim thugs called Boko Haram who had kidnapped 300 Nigerian girls. What a relief!

Now that Terry Reid and the boys had been exonerated, I could concentrate on the actual story. So, apparently this Boko Haram bunch is a charming collection of Muslim men who desire to create an Islamic State in Nigeria dedicated to Sharia law. Their particular area of grievance is over “western education” and the pesky western habit of allowing girls into the classroom. The preferred strategy of guys who dress like this:

Boko Haram.jpg 

usually involves violence of some sort, so as sure as night follows day, a girls school was attacked and nearly 300 girls disappeared. It took Hollywood and the rest of the left several days to get around to registering its outrage, being as how they were all busy turning on Donald Sterling. But once they did, their response was both powerful and profound:

Bring Back.jpg

The millions of Nigerians who have Twitter accounts have surely felt the love and concern of everyone from Michelle Obama to Angelina Jolie. Now that they know that Progressive America is on the case, surely it’s just a matter of time before the kidnappers are brought to justice. Once your cause has an official hash tag, you’ve hit it big. Pretty soon someone will organize a benefit concert to raise awareness. Hip Hop artists who have made millions writing lyrics that objectify woman will be transformed into concerned members of the artistic community, performing in hastily arranged 24 hour telethons dedicated to #BringBackOurGirls.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram turned up its charm offensive with the release of a new video claiming that Allah had commanded the group to sell the girls into slavery. Now, far be it from me from my position of western privilege to criticize Boko Haram or any other group caught up in the struggle against western education, but I thought that slavery was a uniquely western pathology?

The thought does occur to me that this latest tactic opens up an opportunity for Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet or even Oprah Winfrey to add a Nobel Peace Prize to their mantles. If Boko is looking to sell, why can’t one of these billionaires swoop in and offer top dollar, then grant the girls their freedom in a ceremony at the United Nations?

When I read a story like this one, it cuts into me. The thought of 300 innocent young women being held hostage in some hell-hole by the likes of Boko Haram all because they had the audacity to try to get an education is the sort of thing that takes a little bit of the life out of you. I try to imagine what it would be like if it was my daughter and I simply can’t. The very idea is preposterous to the mind of this southern man a mere 150 years after raging battles were fought not 20 miles from my house to end slavery. That’s a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time. But the Boko Harams of the world remind us that we’ve got a long way to go.