Friday, January 16, 2015

Hashtags and Reality

This is my first blog post in almost two weeks.  I started a new job on January 5, one that requires my attention to some extent 50 hours a week right now as I am getting used to it.  I am an interim assistant vice president for academic affairs at my institution.  So far I am enjoying the job immensely, but it does affect my blogging.  One, I don't have time; two, I don't have time to come up with ideas that would be appropriate; and three, in this position I feel a responsibility to measure my words much more than I normally would.  Teachers can be provocative; administrators not so much.

But I do want to exercise my freedom of speech, which is subject of this blog.  Breakpoint has a good essay on the Je suis Charlie trope here. I am all for free speech and press, but as they point out, we don't have to defend what people say just because we defend their right to say (or write, or in this case, draw) it.  If most Americans were to actually know what the Charlie Hebdo magazine was about, they would probably be less likely to say We are Charlie blithely.  I'll pass.  This event is about more than free press and speech.  It's about fear and how we will respond to radical Islam in the future. Unfortunately, some peaceful Muslims will be on the wrong end of the issue and will be persecuted due to the actions of the militants and murderers.

Boko Haram goes far less reported than the Charlie Hebdo murders.  A few years back there was a movie called Sahara.  It was not a bad film, fund to watch, but hardly Oscar-worthy; however,  one line stood out to me.  An evil overlord character said, "No one cares about Africa," making the point that the evil overlord plan he concocted to destroy Africa's environment to make money would not draw any attention from the West.  That pained me greatly; it was too worldly wise a line from a throwaway movie.  That is what I think of when I hear of Boko Haram.  Two thousand innocent people are destroyed and the news is barely reported.  Does any care about Africa?  Do black lives matter in that part of the world?

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