Several days ago Boko Haram attacked another village. The militant Islamist group killed hundreds. As CNN put it:
Hundreds of people were killed in raids by Boko Haram Islamic militants in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, on the border with Cameroon, with some sources putting the death toll at 400 to 500.
On Tuesday, heavily armed men dressed as soldiers in all-terrain vehicles and on motorcycles attacked neighboring Goshe, Attagara, Agapalwa and Aganjara villages in Gwoza district, shooting residents to death and burning homes.
The attacks forced surviving villagers to flee to Cameroon and into the Mandara Mountains on the border.
“The killings are massive. Nobody can say how many people were killed, but the figure runs into some hundreds,” said Peter Biye, a lawmaker in Nigeria’s lower parliament representing the Gwoza region.
“The area is still under the control of the insurgents, and residents can’t go back to bury the dead because of the danger involved,” he said.
That is absolutely horrific. It is also misleading. Yes, people were killed and it is difficult to say how many. However, it is not difficult to say what kind of people they were. Buried in the middle of the CNN report is this information:
The attackers, who posed as soldiers, told residents they had come to protect them from Boko Haram and asked them to assemble. They singled out men and boys and opened fire on them, Biye said.
A local leader in Attagara village, who fled to nearby Madagali town in neighboring Adamawa state, said the death toll was staggering.
“The death is unimaginable. We have lost between 400 and 500 people in the attacks in which men and male children were not spared,” said the local leader, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
“The gunmen pursued on motorcycle people who fled into the bush in a bid to escape and shot them dead.
“Even nursing mothers had their male infants snatched from their backs and shot dead before their eyes,” the local leader said.
To paraphase: Boko Haram went from village to village singling out and killing men and boys, including babies.
Of course, the attacks have failed to prompt more than a casual mention in United States media. The news outlets are far too obsessed with the Bowe Bergdahl story to worry about some militant group killing Nigerians. However, to my knowledge no one in U.S. has led with the fact that Boko Haram targeted men and boys. Even CNN titled the article “Reports: Boko Haram village raids kill hundreds in Nigeria.”
Hundreds of what? People? Animals? Trees?
Certainly not men and boys. Yet that is what Boko Haram did.
When people mentioned Boko Haram’s gender-specific violence, many liberals and feminists dismissed it. They argued that the focus was on the kidnapped girls because the girls were still alive. Fair enough. Three hundred kidnapped girls may be more important than two dozen burned, shot, and slit-throated boys.
How about 400 to 500 dead men and boys? Infants boys torn from the mothers’ backs and then “shot dead before their eyes?”
Are they important enough to mention?
Imagine if the reverse happened. Imagine if Boko Haram spent several days traveling from village to village singling out women and girls and murdering them. Imagine the social media response. The news media response. In the international response.
Now go and look for that response following the recent attacks. That is not a rhetorical joke. I want you to stop reading this, open a new tab in your browser, and search and see if you can find anyone condemning the recent violence. Now check their political affiliation.
I do not expect much from people. Humans have a tendency to latch onto what is trendy. If it is trendy to tweet #bringbackourgirls, people will do it. However, I do expect people to be consistent in their concern. If the kidnapping of 300 girls riled you up, how can you be silent when the same group murders 500 men and boys? How can you be silent they target babies? Where is your outrage? Where is your activism? Where is your decency?
And just to hammer the nail harder, I saw the news reports a few days ago but did not have time to read them. I spotted it again on men’s rights sites. The people who are supposed to be raving misogynists hellbent on finishing what Elliot Rodger started are the only people talking about this.
The irony writes itself.