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Is the plight of African women to live in the shadow of the Charlie Hebdo shootings?

Largely forgotten by western media, very few news agencies reported on Boko Haram’s ‘deadliest massacre’: 2,000 feared dead in Nigeria. The following day, the question was posed: “Why did the world ignore Boko Haram’s Baga attacks?”

Mom Blogger” @Mom101 asked: “How is this not the lead story on every single news network, every Twitter newsfeed right now?

As the days continue from the event in Paris, perhaps more sober thought is questioning the notion that Charlie Hebdo epitomizes all that is best of the west, namely free speech. I can’t agree, terrorist response aside (in other words, to disagree with Charlie Hebdo is Not, de facto, to agree with the terrorists; and, I might add, neither is it vice versa).

I have never read Charlie, nor do I intend to begin. But this speaks to my alertness to not ingest that which feeds cynicism and disrespect that already exists in me; I don’t need anything to help me be more cynical or disrespectful. And I am not, as the popular hashtag was trending, “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).  I like how Roxane Gay writes, “Nuance gets lost in groupthink.” (Ironic, isn’t it, to see the same process of groupthink at work with terrorists and the politically correct?)

These declarations were a display of solidarity with those who lost their lives and those who survived. They allowed people to try and place themselves in the lives of others by using the power of language. We have seen this kind of remembrance before in the face of tragedy: I am Troy Davis; I am Mike Brown; I am Eric Garner; I am Renisha McBride.

But we are none of these people.

Is the plight of women to live in the shadow of the most pressing news of the day?

Sorry but it’s worse than you thought. In the shadows of the most pressing news of the day lies the ongoing story of violence against women in whatever culture you may live (no use just hurling criticism against Islamic countries, fair though the criticisms might be – when in the west there exists sexism, objectivism, female feticide, spousal violence, etc). Recently a report was published on the plight of “murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada.”

The report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which is affiliated with the Organization of American States, said it “strongly supports the creation of a national-level action plan or a nationwide inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

In my own city, a gratuitous act of spousal violence ended with an estranged husband killing 8 others and then himself. More than that, as I suggested in my “Planting a Flag” post, this is part of a larger story of violence against females, at what ever stage of development they may be.

The Question of Identity

But the thing that lives most profoundly in the shadows is the question of identity (or as I routinely note: the question of the enigma of our worth). When we don’t know who we are, we are reduced to picking sides for which team jersey we want to wear.  When we do not understand the mystery of our worth, we do not recognize the worth of the other. What difference is it – what side I chose on these issues – when every side is missing the point anyways?

What identity have we lost when we’ve lost perspective on “whose we are?”

Who are we, if “we are none of these people?” For a more articulate response, Rex Murphy puts it best in his article, “We are Not Charlie Hebdo:”

In the domain of the laugh-generators of late night TV, Christ gets a pie in the face every 10 minutes while Mohammed is awarded the incense of silence, becomes “he whose name must not be spoken.” Jon Stewart is not Charlie Hebdo. He is that wonderful self-contradiction, a “safe-target” satirist. Bush jokes are the coward’s idea of humour.

All of which makes this hashtag war, all the We are Charlie Hebdo manifestations, so very, very hollow. If we will not speak for free speech when it is shut down by special interests, protestors of the politically correct, on campuses and in newspapers, we manifest that we are not serious about free speech. There is no “we” after the killings. There are very few worthy of that claim … and, alas, under the shout of allahu akbar, 12 of them are now quite dead.

Who are you? Come out of the shadow of groupthink, and find out who you are. Without answering this question effectively, I suspect you are doomed to borrow someone else’s identity: “When we don’t know who we are, we are reduced to picking sides… ”

Learn the mystery of what it means to be who you are created to be:

We are never more ourselves than when we are more like Christ.

This, dear reader, is more enigma than dogma.

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