Two notable attacks this morning, one on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali and a powerful Nigerian air force offensive against Boko Haram, clarify what terrorism means to many Americans when overlaid Paris.
Up to a dozen masked gunmen driving cars with diplomatic license plates stormed Bamako’s principal expatriate hotel this morning, forced their way in, briefly interrogated a few people who were allowed to leave after reciting sections of the Koran, then rounded up others in what at this moment remains a hostage situation.
Next door, Nigeria’s powerful air force blasted to smithereens “an outdoor gathering” that it claimed was of Boko Haram terrorists in the east of the country.
When these two events play themselves out, over no more time than it took the Paris events to unfold, many more people will have been killed than in Paris, and many more terrorists as well.
And I’ll wage you dollars to donuts it will receive a fraction of the attention, even in this currently charged atmosphere so sensitive to security and terrorism.
First, because the vast majority (say 90%?) of media consumers take little interest in Africa.
Second, media consumers presume that bad things happen more in Africa than where they live. It’s not as unusual.
Third and most sinister, media consumers impugn African failures at moral governance – a sort of “they got what they deserve.”
I doubt you will disagree with the first reason.
The second is almost a tautology; I think we’ll agree.
I may get resistance to my third from holier-than-thou effetes, but the more honest among us will be unable to completely shed this characterization. We may resist our weakness to believe punishment is both just and a course of remedy, but we must admit to it.
So while it’s not a satisfying analysis and hardly one that naturally leads to any rectification of the problem, it stands solid.
Let’s own the situation and our frailty at grappling with it, and then let’s roll up our sleeves and figure out what to do about.
Here’s when I get mad: When instead of confronting this terribly complex situation head-on, we look for shortcuts out of dealing with it.
Today on PBS’ Morning Edition, the intellectual weakling Steve Inskeep asked his even worse reporter assigned to the Mali attack, the ever confused Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, ‘Is this attack linked to anything more global?’ (I can’t remember the exact words. That’s my characterization: Listen to the link.)
Then in a terribly disappointing followup, the good journalist Renee Montagne asked Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States, if the Mali attacks were linked to anything globally.
To his eternal credit there was an unnatural radio pause before he answered that he thought the situation was more “local.”
Americans want everything linked to the Joker. They want Syrian refugees to be trained by Him. They want the Syrian Opposition (which yet isn’t organized) to fight Him. They want then “to wipe him out.”
The trouble in the world today is, first it’s not more than it’s probably always been, but second, it’s more deadly because of the geometrically increased number of available weapons, and third: it’s way more complicated than before and if linked to anything singular it’s probably climate change.
I’d love to hear how the Republicans plan on wiping out Climate Change.
There is no Joker. Massive increases in technology allow us to know about so much more of the conflicts in the world than we used to. Huge illogical wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with the end of the Cold War have thrown unimaginable amounts of weapons out there to be picked up.
So throw all that on your chess board and stop trying to simplify it.