On November 13, 2015, ISIS members coordinated a bombing attack throughout France that brutally massacred 130 innocent souls from Paris to Saint-Denis. The world sat in disbelief at the audacity of the attacks, and prayers everywhere went out to France.
On January 31, 2016, just earlier this week, the Nigerian terrorist faction Boko Haram savagely killed 86 people in Dalori Village by firebombing huts and burning innocent children alive. Just 5 kms outside of northeast Nigeria’s largest city, a survivor recalled hearing unimaginable screams as their flesh was burnt away from their bodies.
Yet, days later, the executions of these same innocent victims of extremism have not garnered the world’s attention. While the mainstream media response about this tragedy has been underwhelming, the added calamity lies in how the Obama administration has seemingly neglected to treat Boko Haram and the victims of their maniacal violence with the same resources and attention that has been provided to ISIS and victims throughout Europe.
This past October, President Obama deployed 300 U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Cameroon to surveil Boko Haram, but it all seemed ‘too little too late.” The Pentagon recently asked for $7.5 billion dollars to take on ISIS in 2017. Despite the fact that Boko Haram and ISIL are responsible for half of all terrorism deaths, the response to both is clearly uneven in many ways.
We prayed and mourned with France. Global leaders pledged swift justice to those responsible. Every presidential candidate had to address the Paris attacks, including Donald Trump, who used the moment to promote prejudice against Muslims. Most American politicians took a stance on whether or not ground troops should be sent to confront ISIS on the battlefield.
Yet the continual slaughter of innocent Africans has not elicited an equal response from the nation or from the Obama Administration, when in fact Boko Haram is the most deadly Islamic terror group on Earth. This is no exaggeration. In 2014, Boko Haram killed 6,664 people, while ISIS was responsible for 6,073 deaths. Boko Haram is also the faction that kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, which prompted the viral #BringBackOurGirls hashtag.
We’re talking about a group that has murdered more than 15,000 people and displaced more than 2.1 million Nigerians alone. Are black victims simply not worthy of our sympathy and action? Why isn’t there a sense of outrage that makes politicians pledge to do more and do it now?
For the same reason we can’t just shrug our shoulders and pretend that the war in Syria is “their problem,” we cannot afford to treat Boko Haram – the world’s most dangerous terrorist faction – as misguided yahoos in the backs of old pickup trucks. This is a group that the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security warned back in 2013 “posed a threat to both the United States and our allies.” African countries like Nigeria and Kenya aren’t a million miles away – and the lives of their people matter too.
Obama’s 300 U.S. Armed Forces personnel is not enough. Boko Haram’s violence is unending, and innocent civilians who are being slaughtered in their homes can’t be treated as an afterthought.
After the attack on Paris, President Obama stated, “Nous sommes tous Francais,” which translates into “we are all French.” If we can view the humanity in their victims and the necessity of stopping the violence that constricts their liberty, we can do the same for Nigeria, because #AfricanLivesMatter.