On April 15, over 300 Nigerian girls were abducted from their secondary school in the country’s remote Northeast by terrorist faction Boko Haram. In the past three weeks, 53 have managed to escape while 267 remain in captivity. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have vowed that the U.S. will do all it can to help recover the kidnapped girls. Due to the ongoing hostage crisis, Nigeria has agreed to allow a team of U.S. professionals collaborate on the recovery mission. According to White House Spokesman Jay Carney, the team will include experts in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiation, information sharing, and victim assistance, as stated in an article by The Huffington Post.
But why, in the grand scheme of the world’s crises, is the U.S. getting so hung up over 300 missing girls? Why haven’t we taken action in Central African Republic, where over 2,000 people have been killed in the past five months following the radical Muslim rebellion in December? Or in South Sudan, where 200 people died in an April 17 attack, and all the U.S. is doing is slapping some sanctions on conflict leaders? And does anyone even care about Putin? Or is he just too crazy for us to consider?
In truth, the Nigerian situation has very little to do with the 267 missing girls. If the world cared about 267 kidnapped girls, we would have acted on sex slavery and human trafficking decades ago.
The Nigerian situation has the world’s attention not because of its victims, but because of its perpetrators, the Islamic terrorist cell Boko Haram.
Boko Haram is not a well-known group to the international community. At least they weren’t well-known up until April 15. Their brazen kidnapping and subsequent homemade videos (terrorists certainly love their AV tools, don’t they?) have garnered them global attention. In one video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed that he will sell the girls on the market, and some civic organizations are saying that some of the girls have been sold into marriage with Islamic extremists. Their going price? Twelve U.S. dollars.
As the world unites against Boko Haram, the 267 girls still in captivity are at risk of becoming faceless figureheads–if they aren’t already. Boko Haram is an easy enemy. As terrorists, the group is the embodiment of evil. It’s easy to hate evil; there’s no questionable grey area of what is right and what is wrong. In a time when international politics are nothing but grey, the fight against Boko Haram is an easy one to pick.
My fear is this: Are Nigeria’s Missing Girls really what America is concerned about, or are we just happy to have an easily-discernible antagonist? A chance to win some points in the international community? Why are these 267 missing girls so integral to the U.S. when 2,000 children go missing in our country every single day? Is U.S. involvement really about recovering lost children, or is it about putting on a superhero cape and taking on more Islamic terrorists, our country’s favorite villain?