Given that we spent almost a week enjoying music from Mali, I figure I ought to say something about the Bamako hotel attack that took place just one week after the attacks in Paris. There are a few things that are worth noting. Note is that this was a terrorist attack. It was apparently carried out by Al-Mourabitoun and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. There were at least 19 people murdered. But I guess we don’t really care because most Americans don’t even know where Mali is, and the people there are used to being killed or don’t value life like we do or something.
Maybe it is that it is an attack by people who don’t look like us on people who don’t look like us. (In fact, that’s not true: it was an expensive hotel and over half of the victims were “white” — but only one was American, Anita Datar — working on family planning and HIV.) According to a BBC report, Mali has been under attack for the last three years — a situation that has been made much worse by the destabilization of Libya. It’s interesting to me especially, because the United States acts so much like Don Quixote. We throw ourselves into situations, make them worse, and then ride off thinking that we have done good. Of course, Don Quixote is insane. And the US is supposedly the most civilized of countries with by far the biggest military in the world.
The four or five gunmen who stormed the hotel were yelling “Allāhu Akbar” (“Allah is great”). So I guess that means Sam Harris was right. This is all about religion. It isn’t a question of a decades long separatist conflict with rebels in north Mali and west Niger. And before the Harrisistas start complaining that The Profit doesn’t say it is only Islam that is to blame, let’s be clear: I don’t think there has ever been a war in which most of the people didn’t feel God was on their side. In the Battle of Lena, both side thought Odin was on their side. Here’s a bit of history for you all: none of it was actually about Odin.
This attack took place on 20 November 2015. I looked back a year after the Paris attacks. So let’s look back at 20 November 2014 from the Global Terrorism Database. There were at least 105 fatalities from 39 attacks. And this isn’t taking into account all the people fighting against them, not to mention our own bombing and drone campaigns. I am almost to the point where I want to throw up my hands and just repeat, over and over, “They raped our queen, so we raped their city, and we were right!”
Of course, I fear that most people on all sides of these conflicts would respond the opposite from the way I intend. They would say, “Right on!” I’ve been more than clear over the years that I am not a pacifist. But it is clear that there are ways to make the world better and ways to make the world worse. We all know that the Iraq War destabilized the Middle East and made the world worse. Less known is that after almost 15 years of war, the Taliban have a tighter grip on Afghanistan than when we started. Well played, comrades; well played!
Meanwhile, death is everywhere — random and brutal. And our response here in the US is, “Not our fault! Close the borders! Hide under the bed! Oh, and keep up that drone program, because it’s working so very well!” Meanwhile, the people of Mali get on with their lives. They do not have the luxury to pretend that the world will be safe if only they close their borders.