Attention to Africa could aid in struggle against terror

But why are we not up in arms about the problems of Africa, which threaten so many people who are supposedly only separated from us by six degrees?

Allan Kew, Staff member

Do you remember the continent of Africa? Maybe you might remember it as the boot-shaped continent, or that place from those UNICEF commercials? Or maybe you heard the one about the guy who was dragged out of a bus, murdered, burned, and had part of his leg eaten by a disturbed individual?

Ethnic cleansing, rapes, burning villages, terrified and starving children; these are some of the dark images of Africa conjured in the American mind.

In the midst of the regions of Central, Eastern and North Africa, conflicts are being waged between national governments and factions of primarily Islamist terror organizations.

Warfare is not isolated to battles on fields, but to guerrilla warfare techniques, bombing campaigns, close-quarter urban combat, terror campaigns in rural villages, and rising sectarian tension between those of different creeds and beliefs.

Moreover, terror campaigns cause reciprocal violence against those whom victims can target as their aggressors’ political or religious kin.

According to the BBC, thousands of Muslims are fleeing the Central African Republic (CAR) in fear of reciprocation from Christians in the country who suffered from attacks by an Islamist faction the year previous.

Ultra-nationalism and ethnocentrism are massive problems that have been a root cause for many of the world’s most terrifying tragedies. Americans can be knowledgeable of such things, but why not right now?

The internet phenomena that was ‘Kony 2012’ was a sensation that seemed to bring to a legitimate problem to light in the American consciousness.

The Youtube video garnered over 83 million views, led to a US Senate resolution condemning Kony, and the deployment of Green Berets for a special operation with Ugandan Military, the CAR military, and several other countries’ militaries to search for Kony, as reported by CBS 60 Minutes. Yet previous to the video, the US paid little to no attention to Kony or his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Rwanda’s genocide proved to be another case where the impossible became true. Yet with Rwanda, it can be argued that the effects of globalization brought the genocide to the forefront of the American conversation in 1994. While such terrible atrocities occurred, the worst in some ways is the ignorance until after the fact.

The genocide in Rwanda was a catalyst that brought attention to the problems Africa faced. AIDS, poverty and inequality were topics that followed in importance in the American psyche. But still these topics are forgotten.

What was a tearjerking commercial becomes an annoyance. What once was disturbing violence now seems normal though its savagery is acknowledged.

Attention seems to be drawn only when the fact is thrust into our faces. We are ignorant the rest of time for many reasons, but one is the isolationist mentality. The idea of not getting involved, has in some ways, been hijacked by the problems of the War on Terror.

In the case of Kony’s young followers and with Rwandan genocidaires, the incentive to leave behind their violent pasts and move beyond the violence is to instill in them an idea greater than themselves: god, a respected political figure, anything that inspires good out of evil.

When violent forces lose their legitimacy, the people who support these causes will leave and the threats will disintegrate.War isn’t needed; surgical precision of removing the legitimacy of the rebel and terror organizations is a most plausible force for removing these cancers.

There needs to be a new ‘War on Terror.’ It needs to take form in an civic audience willing to protest, participate in relief, give charity or aid, and through that audience not turning blind eyes to outside problems. But just these active mentalities are not enough to stop bombs and bullets from maiming and taking lives.

People who take the time to read and research these scourges will help invite action in helping those with the inability to fight back.  The cries of pain and suffering should not have to be the American alarm clock for the problems of Africa.

But why are we not up in arms about the problems of Africa, which threaten so many people who are supposedly only separated from us by six degrees?