BOSTON — Screams cut through the air as the two bombs exploded. It was Marathon Monday in 2013 when the world witnessed Boston, one of the grittiest cities in the richest country in the world, get cut down at the knees by terrorism.
Police responded quickly, ordering a lockdown that following Friday in order to search for the prime suspects. In the end, one was killed in a gunfight and the other was arrested. Bostonians breathed a collective sigh of relief.
After the terrorist attack upon employees of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Parisian police forces adopted almost identical tactics. Neither American nor French policemen are touted for preparation in the event of a terrorist attack; both forces responded by issuing citywide lockdowns and manhunts.
Unfortunately, what proved to be completely effective for Boston was only partially successful for the Parisian cops. While three of the suspects were caught and killed, the fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, escaped by crossing the border into Spain on foot and flying to Turkey from there.
According to USA Today, French authorities once interrogated Boumeddiene, asking for her perspective on the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks. She told them that she lacked an opinion, but then contradicted her statement by advising the authorities to defend the innocent victims of American attacks. Boumeddiene went on to say that she suspected the media reports and implied that Americans were the terrorists because of their attacks upon the Middle East.
The attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Boston Marathon call important aspects of democracy to the public’s attention. Boumeddiene may be a terrorist, but she is also a product of her frustrated community. While neither the United States nor France deserved to have their innocent civilians attacked, the fact remains that both countries have issued attacks upon the civilians of less developed, less democratic nations.
In the same week as the Charlie Hebdo attack, Boko Haram killed at least 150 in Nigeria, according to Time. Sadly, readers of The Borgen Magazine can probably guess which attack earned more media and political attention.
Part of the reason for this is that no one expects such a vicious attack to occur in a democratic, high security-level country, even though it has already happened to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Another tragically plausible explanation for the enfeebled efforts towards poorer, undemocratic countries is condescension. While most people in developed countries believe that all taking of innocent life is reprehensible, they also turn a semi-blind eye to third-world murders because they see the people of that nation as dissimilar, even inferior, to themselves.
It is this same microaggressive attitude that allowed countries like China, Japan and South Korea to become hardened economic competitors for first-world resources, on par with (or in some aspects ahead of) America and the Nordic nations. Currently, rates of mathematical and scientific competency in the schools of several Asian nations outscore the United States by leaps and bounds.
If that were not enough to convince richer populations to pay attention, then projections for population growth over the next 35 years ought to make them sit up. Pew Research Center reports that Nigeria will likely replace the U.S. as the third most populous country in the world by 2050, with the greatest overall increase in population size occurring in Africa.
With that much potential for future terrorism growing up among the soon-to-be-born African youth, Americans and Europeans cannot afford to continue with their wasteful habits and reactive anti-terrorism tactics. Nothing justifies terrorism, but there are certainly a few factors that can provoke it. If the U.S. and France are truly committed to preventing terrorist attacks in the future and not just making reparations in the immediate aftermath, its citizens and politicians must reevaluate their attitudes toward the third world from which they derive so many resources. They must change now before it is truly too late.
– Leah Zazofsky