In Nigeria, Heroism, Futility, and a Lesson About Liberalism

ISIS has driven Boko Haram–another organization that has nothing! nothing! to do with Islam–out of the headlines, but Boko Haram hasn’t gone away. And the more than 200 kidnapped girls on whose behalf there was a brief spasm of concern are still being raped, enslaved and abused. But here is a ray of good news: four of the girls have escaped.

Four of the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram in Cameroon have escaped…. The free girls, all between ages 16 and 18, escaped with the help of a teenage boy prisoner, who managed to get them out of the camp….

The girls, guided by the setting sun, walked west for three weeks, finally arriving in a Nigerian village, starving and traumatized.

That they survived seems almost miraculous. That’s the good news. But if you keep reading, you get to this:

Nearly six months have passed since more than 200 girls were snatched from their boarding-school dormitory in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram operatives after being awakened by the sound of gunfire.

Their abduction sparked global outrage and a huge campaign calling for their rescue, partly propelled by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Even First Lady Michelle Obama issued a tweet holding a sign emblazoned with the hashtag.

Did these people seriously believe that the leaders of Boko Haram care about Twitter? Presumably not. The fatuity continues:

Advocates have expressed frustration that the world has moved on.

“Even before Ebola and ISIS’s intensified activities, most of the world that stood with #BringBackOurGirls had moved on,” Ibrahim Abdullahi, the Nigerian lawyer who started the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, told The Guardian newspaper. “But we here in Nigeria and a few others outside haven’t moved on. We have been persistent. We have been tweeting about it every day.

So the problem is…there just haven’t been enough tweets.

We and others have written that the Obama administration doesn’t have a plan to deal with ISIS, it just has a plan to get past next month’s election by pretending to do something. The same was true of the Boko Haram hashtag campaign, except that it lacked specific reference to an election. People were upset about hundreds of girls being kidnapped and enslaved, so the Obama administration, and liberals generally, swung into action–with a Twitter campaign. It cost nothing and entailed no risk. And, of course, it couldn’t possibly help the kidnapped girls.

But that was never the objective. Liberalism, more and more, is not about accomplishing anything tangible. It is merely about demonstrating that you care. And if that’s the case, you might as well do something that is both easy and free. Like tweet.

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