BlogFP Interrupted

When do we see terrorism?

FP Interrupted

On Tuesday, January 15, militants belonging to Al-Shabaab, a Somali extremist group affiliated with al Qaeda, attacked a hotel and shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Well armed, with AK47s and a suicide vest, they terrorized hundreds, many of whom holed up in bathrooms and offices, for more than 18 hours. Twenty-one people died. Hundreds are wounded. Thousands are traumatized. Yet, somehow this news fell below the fold in the U.S., even with the death of one American — ranking far behind the Brexit rejection. That is alarming.

It’s also a symptom of a wider problem: perspective, how we look and see things.

Currently, the things we’re looking at are based on clickbait: what Trump tweeted, how the Democrats responded, what AOC wore, whose up, whose down, will Theresa May survive? What we’re not seeing is how that clickbait makes us blind to the things we desperately need to see, in order to act on — such as the magnitude and urgency of the attack in Nairobi.

What happened in Nairobi on Tuesday may not have been on U.S. soil, but it still affects Americans. Violence begets violence. Terrorists know no boundaries. The timing and location of their atrocities are up to them, as Mukoma wa Ngugi notes. How we respond, regardless of where terrorism takes place, is up to us. When it is an attack in Paris, we download the French flag onto our profile picture. When it comes to attacks in Nairobi, Beirut, Istanbul, or throughout Syria — places that aren’t white or “Western” — we look the other way. The other is insignificant.

One of the reasons for FPI and this newsletter isn’t merely to bring you female voices. It’s to bring a different perspective to issues — and possibly reach better outcomes. We can’t continue to keep looking at issues from one dimension and a narrow lens; it’s made us shortsighted and is making us blind.

For more on the Nairobi attack:

  • ‘They’re going to get past you’: Attack in Kenya shows how increased security can be thwarted, writes Siobhán O’Grady. (Washington Post)
  • More than a decade of military campaigns against al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab have failed to quell militant group’s threat, write Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Gabriele Steinhauser. (WSJ)
  • Ineke Mules on how the Kenya terror attack highlights security challenges. (Deutsche Welle)
  • Anyango Otieno outlines the history of Al-Shabaab and its link with Kenya. (The Standard Media)
Brexit – How does she do it? 
British parliamentarians voted down the Brexit deal that their prime minister, Theresa May, ironed out with the European Union. It wasn’t even close: 432 over 202. That was just what happened on Tuesday. The next day, May faced a no-confidence vote, which she did manage to survive, just barely. What happens now? Well, France has activated a no-deal Brexit plan, in the event that British leaders fail to come up with a deal to exit the EU. May has called for a “Plan B” vote on January 29, as she battles it out with opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
  • What’s next for Brexit? Lucy McNulty outlines what’s to come. (Market Watch)
  • As long as hardline Brexiters can keep the standoff going, their threat still has some bite, says Therese Raphael. (Bloomberg)
  • Brexit is forcing a shift in how Britain is governed, write Ellen Barry and Stephen Castle. (NYT)
  • Brexit and no-confidence vote: When will May budge? Laura Kuenssberg discusses. (BBC)
  • This is only the end of the beginning of our Brexit civil war, says Polly Toynbee. (The Guardian)
  • The best solution to Brexit: Leave, ‘good and hard,’ says Megan McArdle. (Washington Post)

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