Today, my heart is sick. I ache for the up to 2,000 souls that were snuffed out by Boko Haram, one of the vicious extremist groups that are terrorizing the world. We don’t know how many – not for sure – because journalists can’t get anywhere near the town that was razed. The New York Times – now a minimizing force in journalism, at least when it comes to Africa – is reporting on its website: “Dozens Said to Die in Boko Haram Attack.” NPR and The Guardian are reporting up to 2,000 deaths, citing Amnesty International.
Even assuming The New York Times is correct, isn’t that significantly more people dead at the hands of extremist groups than those who were killed in Paris earlier this week? Why the dearth of worldwide outrage? Why aren’t we all, each and every one of us, as sick at heart as we are by the horrific events in France?
I know why. It makes me angry. It’s racism, pure and simple. We don’t care about “those” people in Africa. They’re not at the heart of “civilization.” They don’t live in large cities. They’re in rural villages. They don’t control oil or other crucial fossil fuels. And – spoiler alert – they’re Black.
I can’t live like this, accepting that Black lives are worth less than white ones. I can’t accept it in America, where white police are killing black men and boys with impunity. I can’t accept it in Africa, where we don’t give more than a passing acknowledgment of the razing of towns and the murder of their inhabitants. And I can’t accept it in myself. A life is a life is a life.
Every day, we pass judgment on Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram, ISIL (or ISIS, or IS, or whatever its nom du jour is), Al Qaeda. In my humble opinion, that’s not a bad thing. I pass judgment on extremists and zealots in many arenas, but that’s for another blog series. We should judge ourselves as well, though, when we don’t give equal weight to each life taken before its time, no matter the skin color , or the “value” we in the “civilized” world place on the geographic region where the killing is happening.
What’s the answer? I don’t honestly know, except that it is left for us to protest. To express our outrage. To make clear to the media that the skewed reporting is not OK with us. It is up to our religious leaders, be they Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or any other group, to speak up. To protest. To educate their respective flocks. It’s up to us as bloggers. Maybe we need to stand up and be counted. To be challenged to think about our own biases. Our own values. To move away – far away – from beliefs that minimize the horror of massacres, of genocide, because they are not happening on our “civilized” doorsteps.
I have a lot to think about today.
My two cents.