White House officials are openly trying to portray the Boko Haram jihad movement as a symbolic obstacle to girls’ educational progress, instead of another murderous Islamist group that could be fought by U.S. forces.
The straight-faced effort to change the subject from jihad to education policy is a reach even for the White House’s media team, partly because the jihadi group has a decade-long history of bombing Christian churches and schools, and killing thousands of Africans.
On May 12, for example, the group paraded more than 100 kidnapped girls who have converted to Islam to escape rape.
The first lady and President Barack Obama are “deeply concerned… about the fate of these girls and broadly concerned about what these girls represent in terms of the power and importance of making sure that girls around the world are educated,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said May. 12.
The roughly 276 girls “are suffering specifically and individually, but they are also suffering on behalf of a broader proposition, which is that whether you’re a girl or a boy, you should have all the rights to education that can be attained in the country in which you live,” he said.
“And I think that’s a principle that obviously the president and first lady support, and it’s a principle that most Americans, I think — I would daresay all Americans support,” he said.
In Nigeria, however, the parents aren’t complaining about their dip in their girls’ grade point averages, a disruption to their class schedules, or a loss in study time since the mid-April kidnapping.