Point of View Columns

A Tale of Two Tragedies

It is a part of human nature that the latest outrage, the latest tragedy, will overshadow the disaster that precedes it. So it should come as no surprise that the carnage related to the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris has riveted the attention of much of the global media. What should be a surprise, or at least a cause for concern, is that the ongoing death march being conducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria barely moves the media needle.

Last week self-proclaimed Islamic jihadists wreaked murder and havoc in Paris and spread fear through much France. The reaction of the French government and its allies around the world was immediate and swift. With the deaths of seventeen people, over 18,000 French police and military personnel were deployed to seek and kill the perpetrators and to act as a deterrent to further terrorist actions.

Within days of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, leaders from most of Europe (and Israel and the Palestinian Authority) marched through the streets of Paris in an unprecedented show of unity and determination. These images, which were carried around the world, conveyed an opposition to the reign of terror proposed by jihadist terrorists who had attacked a little more than 100 hours earlier.

Meanwhile, in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, the streets moved with business as usual. This, despite the fact that about a week before the slaughter in France, the killers who call themselves Boko Haram attacked and killed as many as 2000 men, women and children. This, despite the fact that during the past few years thousands of Nigerians have been slain by Nigerians, the murderers calling themselves inspired by their God, although it would seem that their motives and calling come straight from Hell.

Nevertheless, the same leaders who marched the streets in Paris are nowhere to be found in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the response of the Nigerian government, with the largest military force in Africa, has been tepid at best and obviously ineffectual.

Despite the fact that Boko Haram threatens to destabilize the largest economy on the African continent, the African Union has been muted in its response to this regional threat. And, despite the obvious trampling of the human rights of the Nigerian people, there has been no call in the halls of the United States Congress or the White House to “do something” to stop these war crimes against humanity.

This tale of two tragedies reveals that it matters where crimes against humanity occur and who the victims are. A terrorist monstrosity raises its bloody head in Europe and a million voices are raised against it and robust military action takes place immediately. A terrorist monstrosity of even greater magnitude in Africa spills out over the media channels and the response in Africa is undeniably weak and the global response reveals that human rights violations in Africa are simply not a priority.

Of course, given the less than robust response to the depredations of Boko Haram by the African Union and the Nigerian government, it is difficult to understand how the former African colonialists and neo-colonialists are supposed to come to the rescue. And without an African response to the death and destruction currently raging in West Africa, there is no doubt that the global response will be rhetorical at best.

All lives matter. All lives have intrinsic value. All murder is senseless, whether it occurs in Ferguson, Paris or Nigeria. But it is clear that the venue of the tragedy and the identity of the victims do matter. And that is an injustice that simply cannot be allowed to continue.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – May 16, 2014

Reflecting on the recent news it appears that the Teapublicans believe that the lowest earning Americans earning a few more dollars would be destructive of the American economy. Meanwhile, a young man named Kwesi Enin has, by his excellence, illustrated the great divide in this country when it comes to affirmative action. And finally, Boko Haram has proven itself to be a truly demonic and demented terrorist organization. What, if anything, is the United States supposed to do about it?

You Want More?

In considering the Teapublican position on increasing the minimum wage one is reminded of the scene in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, when the poor, hungry urchin is greeted with outrage when he asks for some more gruel.

While the upper reaches of the American upper class literally cannot count the millions and billions that are cascading into their coffers, there is this apoplectic response to the concept of a minimal raise for minimum wage earners who constitute barely 4% of the workforce.

Would a few extra dollars in the pockets of the men and women who actually labor in the trenches really tamper with the forces of nature? Would a few monetary crumbs, that mean so little to the Masters of the Universe but would mean so much to the working poor, be so difficult to support?

Clearly the Teapublicans in the House and Senate, bloviating about states’ rights and protecting the national economy are revealing themselves to be on the wrong side of meanness, stinginess and basic economic common sense.

Watch This Space

Kwesi Enin is the young man who was recently admitted to all eight Ivy League schools. He has chosen to attend Yale University. That should be the denouement in a great story until we read about his marvelous achievements that his future seems to promise.

But the haters and naysayers who swim in the sewer of negativity characterized his amazing admissions record as an indication of what is wrong with affirmative action. Without knowing Mr. Enin’s grades or SAT scores, they assumed that his academic qualifications were not as good as his competition, simply because he is an African American.

The shameful bigotry and racial prejudice that continues to flow through the veins of the American body politic is clear and present —- and dangerous.

Who are These Guys?

The terrorist organization Boko Haram has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria for several years. Pursuing a strategy of murder and mayhem, Boko Haram seems hell bent on destabilizing what should be the most advanced country on the African continent.

Boko Haram has dominated the international media by kidnapping over 300 young women and threatening to sell them as slaves. The horrific and medieval mindset of the Boko Haram operatives is frightening to contemplate and one can only hope that this latest story of terror by religious zealots will not have an unhappy ending.

Stay strong and be great!