In the middle of last month, nearly 300 Nigerian girls preparing for exams were abducted by Boko Haram, an anti-westernization terrorist group, and it took a hashtag campaign for the world at large to really start noticing and caring. People like to make fun of Twitter activism, but, well, the fact remains that two weeks passed before the hashtag started trending and we suddenly started getting facts and government statements. If that’s a coincidence, it’s a pretty big one.
So far, things are moving slowly and little progress has been made, aside from Boko Haram offering to trade girls for imprisoned members of their group. Having served its purpose of drawing worldwide attention to the crisis in Nigeria, the hashtag has settled into the less glamorous role of maintaining interest and helping other people call attention to their own pet causes through hijacking that interest. While we wait to see the resolution of the crisis, let’s reflect on the buffoonery of the past couple weeks.
1. White filmmaker takes credit for the hashtag
It was just a few days after the kidnapping that Ibrahim Musa Abdullahi, a Nigerian attorney, tweeted at Nigeria’s former Minister of Education (and VP of the World Bank), Obiageli Ezekwesili, proposing hashtags to trend the crisis. It took off mainly in Nigeria, and exploded shortly thereafter as activist personalities and western celebrities picked up on it. As these things often go, few people knew who sparked the trend.
Naturally, someone with a diminished sense of shame and a clearly deficient level of internet savvy decided to claim credit for the potentially life-saving campaign. Ramaa Mosley, a documentarian from LA, told news outlets that she was tired of the kidnapping going uncovered and decided to DO SOMETHING. Namely, make a tweet with a hashtag she had seen trending. Hats off to you, Ramaa Mosley.
#BringBackOurGirls is a self-funding movement, and not accepting donations, but for the latest news, follow them on Twitter!
2. Michelle Obama’s sign is photoshopped to deliver a real zinger about drone strikes
Oh, drone strikes, is there anything you can’t mess up? As part of the flood of support, Michelle Obama tweeted a photo of herself holding a sign reading “#Bring Back Our Girls.” Like anything the first family does to imply they care about other humans, it was answered with “Oh yeah? Drone strikes! Take that, hypocrites!” First Lady: down.
Look, we all hate drone strikes, and hopefully a lot of us get that we shouldn’t regard President Obama as a moral or good person. That said, the Boko Haram kidnapping crisis is really not the discussion you want to divert for the sake of an issue that has pretty much perennial relevance. Terrorists violently suppressing the education of women is actually a serious fucking problem, no matter how dismal and horrendous America’s attempts to solve it.
3. MRAs whine about how boys never get this kind of attention
Everyone made it out for this one. Just like the drone strike folks, there’s a number of people who are wondering why it is that everyone cares so much about these 276 girls when there’s BOYS to care about. In February, Boko Haram attacked a different school, murdering 29 male students. They also have a ton of other crimes and murders to their name that aren’t the talk of the internet.
So why are we only talking about the girls? Is it misandry? Our feminist-run media burying the truth about Boko Haram, that they do bad stuff to people of every gender? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say no, it’s probably just that 276 girls are currently held hostage by terrorists who are threatening to sell them into forced marriages (read: lifelong rape) and that is a pressing issue. By all means, educate people on Boko Haram’s other activity, but know that if you have a problem with this crisis getting special attention, you are a prick.
4. Nigerian protesters are arrested while lobbying the president to take action
Patience Jonathan, the first lady of Nigeria, takes pride in her job of supporting her husband and making things in Nigeria look sunny. So when protests started happening around the country, she called a meeting with the organizer and had her arrested.
Naomi Mutah claims that in their meeting, the first lady denied there had been any abductions and accused her of being a Boko Haram agitator. She said the story was made up and the protesters were only trying to disrupt President Goodluck Jonathan’s rule, and had Mutah arrested. The official report is that Mutah falsely claimed to be a mother of one of the abducted girls, which…you know, probably more pressing issues around. Making it look like you give a shit about hundreds of kidnapped children, for instance.
5. Ann Coulter reminds us she is still alive
Boy, I really didn’t need to see Ann Coulter this week. But here she is, existing, doing what Ann Coulter does. The internet reacted swiftly, hopefully driving her back into the sewers for another year. Let’s not dwell on this one.