Thinking Aloud: Nigerian Lives Matter

Jan. 11, 2015 by Darius

What does Boko Haram need to do to get into the international news?  As media outlets across Europe and the US were utterly focused on the attack on a French newspaper that, while despicable, killed fewer than 20 people, Boko Haram carried out what may have been its most deadly massacre yet.  In the area of the northern Nigerian town of Baga, there are too many bodies to count.  But some estimates put the death toll around 2,000.

Did this attack, with a death toll approximately 100 times that of the France attack, merit front-page news?  Hardly.  In The New York Times, Boko Haram’s raid, which destroyed the entire town, was barely covered at all.  In The Washington Post, it was covered on p.A4, behind three stories about France and, Lord help us, a story about Mitt Romney still wanting to be president.

This isn’t the first time Boko Haram’s attacks have not gotten the coverage, much less the international outpouring, that they deserve.  There are a number of reasons this latest attack went almost unnoticed: since it took place in a remote corner of Nigeria and the killings were spread over several days and many miles, details remain sketchy.  But there is one overriding conclusion: to the Western media, at least, Nigerian lives do not matter, or at least they do not matter in the same way the lives of our OECD allies do.  Whereas the victims of any terrorist attack, no matter how small, in an OECD ally – be it France, Canada, Australia, Israel, Spain, the UK – are immediately eulogized, Boko Haram’s victims are barely noticed and quickly forgotten.

Admittedly, Boko Haram’s victims are far away and often live lives we, in the OECD, can’t really related to.  But they deserve better than the treatment, or lack thereof, they have gotten in the press.

Nigerian lives matter.

For more, see https://notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/thinking-aloud-bring-back-the-girls-but/

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