The Boston bombings are revealing a lot of hypocrisy

Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston Marathon Bombing. Less than 5 dead

I was watching the news on Monday night when a breathless journalist, telling us that there were two explosions close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon, interrupted regular programming. At the time of writing this, I heard that there were three innocents dead and more than 150 injured.

It’s a tragic event for sure.  But I noted two things that I felt I should talk about.

First of all, I noted just how sober minded the journalists, who reported the event, were. Before it was confirmed, none of them, no matter their media affiliation, termed the explosions a ‘bombing’. They avoided the word ‘terrorism’ and they were very mindful of the tone of their language. They refused to speculate on the causes of the two blasts until they got official confirmation. Only after Vice President Biden released a statement saying the blasts were caused by bombs, did CNN call it a ‘bombing’.

The media understood that pronouncements could either exacerbate the situation, sowing hysteria, or lessen the tension in Boston and the rest of the country. They choose the former and good for them. Now only if these very same western journalists had been so ethical in, for instance, Kenya during the run up to the presidential election, I wouldn’t have an issue. But they weren’t. Instead of sober analysis and responsible reporting, they made an already jittery populace even more nervous. It got so bad that Kenyans took to Twitter to denounce CNN’s reporting.  In fact, it was left to Kenyan journalists to remain professional. Funny enough, these responsible journalists were judged by their western peers for being politically influenced.

It would seem that there are different rules being applied here. But I’m not surprised and neither should anyone else; after all, don’t we all know that ‘west is Best…and to hell with all the rest?

The second thing I noticed was just how vocal local social media enthusiasts were following the bombings. It seemed as if every Rwandan on social media sent ‘prayers’ to the victims. And why not? We are a global community and what happens to Bostonians affects us all. However, I must ask this question. When a grenade attack occurred near Kimironko market on March 26, killing one person and injured about eight, I did not get the same sense of global community. Honestly, forget ‘global’, there was barely a peep from Kigalians.

A woman near the site of the car bomb, in Mogadishu.

A woman near the site of the car bomb, in Mogadishu. More than 50 dead

This made me wonder. Have we been so brainwashed and blasé that we only react when the tragedy occurs in certain places? Places that don’t ‘deserve’ tragedy? Just this weekend 50 civilians were killed in an attack on a courthouse in Mogadishu by Al-Shabaab. Lets be honest here, how many of you posted links on their Facebook and Twitter denouncing the attack and standing with the people of Somalia?

This situation reminds me of George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm. In a famous passage of the book, Napoleon  the head honcho, writes on the barnyard door, ‘all animals (read humans) are created equal but some animals are more equal than others’.

In other news, Rwanda refused to allow the UN Security Council to insert language in a statement praising the International Criminal Court (ICC). That shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone considering the fact that it refused to sign the Rome Statue establishing it. However, the Associated Press’s James Spielmann writes that: ‘Rwanda is angry that the ICC has indicted Bosco Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda, M23 rebels in eastern Congo, who are reported to be backed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

He then continues, ‘ Analysts have speculated that Kagame may not want to see Ntaganda testify at The Hague court because of his knowledge of military deals and illicit mineral extractions between Congo and Rwanda’.

Forget that Nkunda isn’t even indicted by the ICC. Did the reporter do even a bit of research? If he had he would’ve known that Rwanda cooperated with the US and the ICC to fly Ntaganda to The Hague. Secondly, Ntaganda was indicted for what he allegedly did in Ituri under the command of Thomas Lubanga. The same Lubanga who was found guilty by the ICC. Was Rwanda even mentioned in the first trial? No. What makes anyone think that it will be involved in this second trial? This is just lazy journalism.


3 thoughts on “The Boston bombings are revealing a lot of hypocrisy

  1. T. Uwamahoro says:

    I don’t want to be sanctimonious. Allow me to be a bit blunt. There will always be bias on how we react to tragedies. While we all agree that every life = every other life, we will always react in a way that is dictated by the context and the place where we are in relation to the event and the victims. I explain, I am Burundian residing in the US: if (God forbid), I read that there was a Burundian stabbed in Atlanta, you better count on me posting that link on my wall and tweeter. It doesn’t mean it is the only stabbing that happened that day in the world or that I do not care about other stabbings, but it happens that a) I will most likely read about it because my Google alert is set to send me an email whenever a news article containing the word “Burundi” is poster in the interwebs, and b) I will somehow feel very close to that person for whatever reason.

    Context: The Boston marathon for example is an international event with runners from all over the world. That the world (including Africans) is fascinated and saddened with what happened around it does not surprise me. Besides that, the world is fascinated about Boston the same way it is fascinated about Obama, America’s presidential elections, American movies, rappers, and iphones. This fascination with America makes it more likely that what happens in Boston will get much more attention than what happens in Bwambarangwe. The victims will therefore be known and covered with different intensity. The media is in a business of selling news and the news articles that are most likely to get papers flying off the shelves or clicks increasing by millions a minute will make it to front pages and be written and talked about and shared. I am just being realistic. I fully understand why my news feed was just about compassion, prayers, and thoughts towards Bostonians last couple days. I was part of the movement. And I still stand behind my standing with Bostonians (some of them are btw my colleagues). I have to add that I have also seen an outpouring of thoughts and prayers each time Mandela is hospitalized (another story that gets near universal media coverage).

    For those who live in the US, something can also be said about geographic/physical proximity. There is such thing as geographic/physical proximity effect to how humans react to catastrophic events (natural or man-made). If you are a Senegalese studying at Harvard and there is a bombing in Boston, you are most likely to tweet/post about that than a grenade blast in southern Swaziland. If I were in Kano today and the Boko Haram blew up a shop there, I would most likely write about that. Same is true if I were in Waziristan and an incident happened there. Setting aside media coverage in your immediate surroundings, physical proximity to an incident makes it more likely that you could have been a victim and therefore you might care more.

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