May 12 2014

Boko Haram: Likely Impervious to Hashtags

Charlotte Hays

You have no doubt seen the photograph of a hangdog First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign that reads “# Bring Back Our Girls.”

It’s come to this. Mark Steyn writes about this picture:

It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week's Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared - on social media! - and that's all that matters, isn't it?

Just as the last floppo hashtag, #WeStandWithUkraine, didn't actually involve standing with Ukraine, so #BringBackOurGirls doesn't require bringing back our girls. There are only a half-dozen special forces around the planet capable of doing that without getting most or all of the hostages killed: the British, the French, the Americans, Israelis, Germans, Aussies, maybe a couple of others. So, unless something of that nature is being lined up, those schoolgirls are headed into slavery, and the wretched pleading passivity of Mrs Obama's hashtag is just a form of moral preening.

It may be that the U.S. is doing all it can to help rescue the abducted girls. Nevertheless, I want to call you attention to Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard’s take on the situation: “All tweet, no action.”  Kristol dissects a Washington Post story that was headlined “Nigerian girls inspire action,” noting that there has been little action beyond social media.

At whom is this social media directed? Certainly not the murderous zealots of Boko Haram, who abducted the girls and will sell them into slavery because they had committed the sin of going to school.

No, the social media is directed at each other, the aristocracy of the concerned. 

The Bring Back Our Girls hashtag seems to have started in Nigeria, where haplessness and corruption are endemic.

But it was a natural for a much reduced West to pick it up. What is so pathetic is that we have come to the point that we think advertising our caring is all that matters. This is solipsistic in the extreme. It does absolutely nothing for the abducted girls. I heard somebody on one of the talk shows yesterday defend it because it stirs up awareness of the girls. Awareness is good because it makes more awareness. We've come to this.

Particularly annoying from the first lady was this:

In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.

Please, President and Mrs. Obama, this is not about you.

It is embarrassing, this Obama tendency to latch onto other people's tragedies. But it seems to be their first response.  It is fatuous and opportunistic.  This is about girls whose hopes and dreams are very different from the hopes and dreams of girls in a fancy prep school in Washington, girls before whom the world opens with opportunities. President and Mrs. Obama, you’re seeing in Nigeria what a real war on women looks like.

In this real war on women, the girls are probably already dispersed and thus, if lucky, we will recover some but hardly all of the abducted girls. But preen on.

The headline to Steyn's column, by the way, was "# Bring Back Our Balls."

 

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