Selective outrage says more about us than them
AT 9.29am on Sunday last weekend, a headline caught my attention on a sidebar of online news platform, news.com.au: “Burkina Faso hotel siege ends, 32 dead”.
It wasn’t very interesting, apparently – it wasn’t front page or even in the main section, but in the spot for tid-bits.
It quoted: “The al-qaeda fighters who stormed a popular hangout in Burkina Faso’s capital at dinnertime came with a mission to kill as many people as possible, firing at people as they moved to a nearby hotel and setting the cafe ablaze.
“When the gunfire stopped after a more than 12-hour siege, at least 28 people had been slain in an unprecedented attack on this West African country. Like the extremist attacks from Paris to Jakarta, the assailants in the Friday evening attack targeted an area where people from different nationalities gathered to enjoy life.”
But unlike the attacks from Paris to Jakarta, the mainstream media had, at the time, hardly spoken of the incident.
One of the popular radio stations I was listening to said at 8.55 that there would be reports in the 9 o’clock news… But no. Plenty about Essendon, the one day international and the “big bash”… but nothing – nothing – about the victims that came from 18 different countries. Nothing about Burkinabe forces backed by French soldiers based in neighbouring Mali managing to help free at least 126 hostages. All quiet on that as well. No mention of the city in which it happened, the capital Ouagadougou. Must be too hard to use Wikipedia and look it up.
If I want to go looking, the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald and some other news outlets carried some information, but where was the 10 page lift-out, the likes of which the Daily Tele usually does when its outraged? Or the breakfast television crosses for special reports live from the scene?
Why is this? Because they don’t know where Burkina Faso is, let alone what it is (formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta – the country was renamed Burkina Faso in 1984) and since there is no oil, beaches (it ‘ landlocked below the Sahara Desert, in fact it is due south of Timbuktu) no-one gives a rat’s arse.
Sometimes I want to be told about news, not have to go looking for it.
Change that to a sexy beach babe smuggling weed into… but I digress.
I guess being al-qaeda, not ISIS, isn’t so sexy any more.
It’s been hard to find out any info on the Burkina Faso tragedy – why is that? Why do we not care as much about this little country and its people? Can we only look in one direction at a time? Do we not look at the world as a whole? We keep saying the world is a global village, so is Burkina Faso on the wrong side of the village railway tracks?
Why does the mainstream media talk about who’s’ doing, sorry, seeing who, worry about which “bachelor” and/or “bachelorette” buys a house together or sells because they break up?
Or is the problem US? Are we, or have we become, so insincere, so plastic, so blase, so desensitised to life in general, that we don’t really care?
Worse still, if that’s possible, was the news (in a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) that an Australian doctor, Dr Ken Elliot and his wife Jocelyn had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso’s north.
The two were abducted from the town of Djibo near the border with Mali. The reports said the couple have lived since 1972 in Djibo, near Baraboule, where they work in a volunteer medical clinic they built. Dr Elliot is the sole surgeon at the hospital.
At the time, this was just a footnote to a tid-bit in the quick catch-up section of an online newspaper and at the time of writing, fewer than 33 – YES 33 – people had read about it online. How do I know this? The top five were listed and it didn’t make the cut. The mainstream media was slow to react.
Where was the SAS? Where was 2CDO? Why weren’t we going in and finding out what was going on? I should have investigated with great gusto, and then I would have found this:
In a statement, Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said the Australian government was taking the suspected kidnapping “very seriously”:
“Our thoughts are with the family of the Australians at this difficult time and we ask all to respect their request for privacy,” Truss said. “The safety of the Australians involved is our highest priority. All actions the Australian Government takes will be in the interest of their welfare. However, I can say that we are working with local authorities through our High Commission in Accra, Ghana, which is responsible for Australian interests in Burkina Faso. For the safety of the Australians involved we will not be providing further comment at this time.”
“Is the problem US? Are we, or have we become, so insincere, so plastic, so blase, so desensitised to life in general, that we don’t really care?
Glad they’re all over it.
I guess Africa just isn’t sexy enough to worry too much about.
Soldiers stand guard in front of the Splendid Hotel after last week's terrorist attack on the hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.