My teenaged daughter has been invited to attend a protest march against the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The name Boko Haram means 'non-Muslim teaching is evil' and the group believes that Islam forbids the education of women entirely, which is why it targets girls in Nigerian state schools as kidnap victims (although the group's willingness to sell the girls into slavery suggests a more mercenary motive).
The protest will take place at Parliament Buildings in Wellington and has been organised by fellow pupils at her inner city girls school. To her credit, my daughter has decided not to join the protest, not because she doesn't care about the fate of the kidnapped girls - on the contrary, she is very upset by the matter - but because she realises the futility of protesting in New Zealand about the actions of terrorists half the world away. What these protestors want to achieve is unclear, unlike the aims of the kidnappers.
But as futile as the actions of these protestors are, they don't compare to the pathetic frivolousness of Michelle Obama's hashtag photo opportunity shown below. The US president's wife insults the victims of this horrible religious violence precisely because she is one of the few people in the world who has the ability to influence the outcome of this event.
There are only a handful of countries capable of rendering assistance to the kidnap victims. The United States, obviously, is one of these, but don't hold your breath waiting for President Obama to act. The President has shown himself to be a moral weakling where foreign policy is concerned. In Benghazi, he wasn't willing even to go to the aid of his own consular officials when the embassy there was attacked by an Al Qaeda militia on September 11, 2012. His so-called 'red-line' on the use of chemical weapons in Syria has counted for nothing, and his bluster on Ukraine is rightly treated as irrelevant by Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.
The first United States president to take his country to war against an external enemy was Thomas Jefferson, and the enemy in that case was Islamic pirates on the Barbary Coast who were kidnapping and enslaving American sailors. There is much that Jefferson would not admire today about the republic he helped establish but I think the thing he would least admire is the current president's lack of moral courage on matters of foreign policy. President Obama should be guided by the example of America's third president and take the fight to these Islamic extremists, wherever they are hiding, and his wife should drop the social media frivolity and urge her husband to grow a backbone.