Doubling down

Nicolas Kristof has learned absolutely nothing from the reaction of Boko Haram:

Women’s rights advocates in Nigeria noisily demanded action, and social media mavens around the world spread word on Twitter, Facebook and online petitions — and a movement grew.

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, started on Twitter by a Nigerian lawyer, has now been shared more than one million times. A Nigerian started a petition on, calling for more efforts to find the girls, and more than 450,000 people around the world have signed it.

Nigerian women embarrassed the government by announcing that they would strip off their clothes and march naked into the Sambisa forest to confront the militants and recover the girls….

All of us can respond more directly. Boko Haram, whose name means roughly “Western education is a sin,” is keeping women and girls marginalized; conversely, we can help educate and empower women. Ultimately, the greatest threat to extremism isn’t a drone overhead but a girl with a book.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and, by all means, let’s use it to celebrate the moms in our lives with flowers and brunches. But let’s also use the occasion to honor the girls still missing in Nigeria.

One way is a donation to support girls going to school around Africa through the Campaign for Female Education,; a $40 gift pays for a girl’s school uniform.

Kristof is acting as if the young women are not legitimate military targets. But that is the entire point. He, and many others like him, have made them legitimate military targets by intentionally turning them into weapons in a cultural war. And he had better pray that Boko Haram does not follow al Qaeda’s lead in bringing the West’s cultural war on the South and East back to the West.

At Virginia Tech, one mentally disturbed immigrant managed to kill 33 college students. A small team of Boko Haram activists could probably manage to kill at least five times that number should they target an American university. And the latest news out of Nigeria makes it clear that they are at least one step ahead of the likes of Kristof et al.

Islamist insurgents have killed hundreds in a town in Nigeria’s northeast this week, the area’s senator, a resident and the Nigerian news media reported on Wednesday, as more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the militants, known as Boko Haram, remained missing.

The latest attack, on Monday, followed a classic Boko Haram pattern: Dozens of militants wearing fatigues and wielding AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers descended on the town of Gamboru Ngala, chanting “Allahu akbar,” firing indiscriminately and torching houses. When it was over, at least 336 people had been killed and hundreds of houses and cars had been set on fire, said Waziri Hassan, who lives there, and Senator Ahmed Zanna….

Gamboru, a town of perhaps 3,000 people, “is now burned into ashes,” Mr. Hassan said. “I saw it with my own eyes, 171 dead bodies, scattered around.” At least 18 police officers were killed, but Mr. Zanna said there were no military forces in the town because all had been drafted in the search for the schoolgirls.

Perhaps the Nigerian government actually knew what it was doing when it didn’t drop everything to engage in a fruitless search for the young women, who may not even be inside the country’s borders anyhow. Regardless, in the end, there can only ever be one result between those who “fight” by public posturing and those who fight by taking arms.

UPDATE: The US military cannot get involved as it is prohibited by law from collaboration with Nigerian security forces.