Choose Your Victims Well

More sad news from Nigeria today. A pair of car bombs in the city of Jos has killed more than 100 people. The bombings took place in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. Authorities believe Boko Haram is responsible.

As everybody now knows, Boko Haram is an Islamist terrorist group, linked with al Qaeda, which seeks to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria. About a month ago, the group kidnapped hundreds of girls from a public school in the city of Chibok. The girls’ whereabouts remain unknown. Boko Haram’s leader has threatened to sell them into slavery.

The kidnapping has become a cause célèbre–as Terry Mattingly writes, an Official News Story. Major papers and cable news outlets have given it extended coverage. A worldwide hashtag campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, features the likes of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Angelina Jolie. John McCain thinks the US should send in special forces to rescue the girls, whether or not Nigeria approves. Well, he wants to intervene everywhere. But otherwise sensible commentators, like Peggy Noonan, agree with him.

What Boko Haram has done to the schoolgirls is an atrocity. It’s appropriate to condemn the kidnapping and do what we can to bring the perpetrators to justice, and, most of all, get the girls home. But here’s the thing. Boko Haram has been carrying out atrocities for years. The group has murdered thousands and caused thousands more to flee. It has burned churches with people inside them; it has massacred people in the streets. But until now, the Western media has paid little attention. Why the change?

Here’s a possible explanation: the majority of Boko Haram’s targets and victims have been Christians–according to one estimate, something like 60%. In fact, 60% may understate things. Boko Haram considers schools and places of entertainment “Christian” institutions, so one should see attacks on those places as part of an anti-Christian campaign as well. In fact, although it hasn’t been widely reported, Chibok is a predominantly Christian city, and most of the kidnapped schoolgirls are Christians. That was the point.

It’s sadly very difficult to get the Western media and human-rights activists to focus on the worldwide persecution of Christians. Kidnap schoolgirls, though, and people sit up and pay attention. The War on Women interests us; the War on Christians, not so much. I suppose the moral is, if you’re a terrorist and you want to get the West to notice you, choose victims we care about.

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