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Monday, January 12, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and Boko Haram

Don't get me wrong.  Like the million people who marched in Paris yesterday, I'm against terrorism too.  But I think there's a double standard going on here.

Yes, seventeen people from an industrialized democracy were senselessly shot to death by religious extremists in Paris, and it happened because somebody made fun of somebody else's religion.  That was indeed a terrible tragedy and all sensible measures should be taken to prevent its recurrence.

But at just about the same time, somebody strapped explosives to a ten-year-old girl, and sent her into a crowded market place, where she exploded and killed 20 people in Nigeria.  In terms of sheer cruelty and senselessness, somehow that seems worse; a ten-year old girl was killed, along with twenty other innocents.  Nobody in Nigeria that day had a bodyguard, or was intentionally engaging in conduct that would inflame hatred and incite violence by religious zealots.

On the same day (last Friday) that all of France was mobilized against the two Charlie Hebdo killers, Boko Haram was completing the bloodiest massacre in its brutal history -- 2000 women, children, and men in the town of Baga, Nigeria.

So I'm glad to hear that there are a million people out there who have decided they won't tolerate terrorism any more, even if I find their reason -- because it threatens freedom of expression -- a little suspect.

This reminds me of how just about everyone in the United States felt on 9-11, and for the days, weeks, and months thereafter.  Unfortunately, our reaction to 9-11, if anything, seems to have made things worse.  It certainly did not prevent the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and it did nothing to prevent the rise of Boko Haram.  Let's hope those million people -- and the rest of us who feel essentially the same way about terrorism -- find a better solution this time, and that it gets implemented on a global scale.

Update -- on Jan. 22, 2015, the Daily Show picked up on this story.


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