The mass murder of praying congregants on June 5 in a Nigerian church, where four terrorists gunned down up to 40 people, was horrific enough. But even worse to many was the daft conclusion of Irish President Michael Higgins that it was another grim consequence of—wait for it—climate change.
“That such an attack was made in a place of worship is a source of particular condemnation, as is any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change,” Higgins writes.
Stepping out in compassion, Higgins stepped further into it:
The solidarity of us all, as peoples of the world, is owed to all those impacted not only by this horrible event but in the struggle by the most vulnerable on whom the consequences of climate change have been inflicted.
It sounded so odd that the Catholic News Agency had to explain, “Higgins was alluding to deadly clashes between farmers and nomadic pastoralists in the West African country.”
A half dozen conservative publications protested the distorted comparison. But in deft Irish fashion, a spokesman for the president rushed to do cleanup: “The president made no link in his statement between climate change and the attack itself.”
But that walk back came after a strongly worded rebuke from the Catholic bishop of Ondo diocese, Jude Ayodeji Arogundade. He said:
To make a connection between the victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but exactly rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria. Alluding to some form of politics of climate change in our situation is completely inappropriate.
Yet the president of Ireland can be forgiven for thinking that climate change drives bloody conflicts over land and water. That message is the chief narrative of the European Union, the US State Department, and international non-governmental organizations that they pay to research the conflict—which according to the International Committee on Nigeria has killed some 350,000 citizens. In fact, there are bloody conflicts over land and resources throughout Africa and always have been.
Meanwhile, Nigerian police spokesmen prefer the term communal conflict to describe the burning of a village that left dozens dead and thousands homeless. Such attacks have happened almost weekly for seven years. The government of Nigeria, led by Fulani Muslims, wants to see the conflict as communal and not as a sectarian conflict or ethnic cleansing, which is what the victims see. The term communal conflict presupposes reciprocity, moral equivalence, and two-sidedness. Tragic facts belie such views. French writer Bernard-Henri Lévy decried the conflict as a “slow-walking genocide” after he visited Plateau State. Fulani herders confronted—and viciously threatened—him during his 2019 visit. Lévy’s latest book, The Will to See, aptly invokes the core deficit in the West’s diagnosis of Nigeria’s hell: we don’t want to see it.
US officials don’t want to see that over the last 12 years semi-nomadic pastoralists have raided, burned, and re-settled more than 380 majority-Christian towns and villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. Fulani conquerors have renamed many of these settlements. But there are no known instances of Nigerian Christians capturing, burning, or taking over Fulani-majority towns. The Nigerian government obviously doesn’t want to expose its flagrant refusal to protect its own citizens from jihadist atrocities, be it the murder of 40 innocents in St. Francis Church on Pentecost Sunday or the unspeakable blasphemy murder of 22-year-old Deborah Emmanuel on the campus of her teacher’s college in Sokoto on May 12. The stoning of Emmanuel took place under the watchful eyes of 50 uniformed Sokoto policemen who made only symbolic gestures to rescue her.
Nigerian General Ibrahim Sallau Ali, commander of Nigeria’s Third Army Division based in Jos, uses the climate change narrative when he lectures Christian community leaders from the killing zones of southeastern Kaduna. According to sources who reported to Providence about their early February closed-door meeting with Ali, he said the attacks were the result of climate change forcing northern Nigerian herding peoples out of the desiccated savannah. They were then obliged to invade green farmers’ fields with their large herds of bony, voracious cattle.
The term narrative, when applied to the massive loss of life in Nigeria, has near-biblical consequences. In Genesis 3, the serpent confronted Eve with an alternative narrative regarding the consequence of eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve told the serpent that God said, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” The serpent, like a good ideologue, had a different point of view: “You will not certainly die.” Eve chose the serpent’s narrative.
Similarly, the proper prescription to Nigeria’s predicament, according to former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro, is based on the narrative of better living through law enforcement. Sokoto police on May 12 could have rescued Deborah Emmanuel from the psychotically inflamed jihadist mob, but they chose not to do so. As the NGO Amnesty International and The Epoch Times have documented, Nigerian soldiers and police are frequently complicit in the mass murders that take place on their watch.
The US mission in Abuja has a political interest in not “seeing” sectarian hate as the driver of the so-called “conflict,” which is really a one-sided slide into slow but violent Islamic conquest. By choosing to see “communal conflict” and climate change as the cause of violence, instead of jihadism, the business of US engagement with the government—including US sales of pharmaceuticals, technology, and military equipment—can proceed. US officials won’t have awkward moments with Nigeria’s elected leaders, who are embarrassed by the low human rights grade of “Country of Particular Concern” that the Trump White House slapped on it in 2020. Secretary Anthony Blinken removed that listing in early November prior to his goodwill visit to Nigeria, where he was warmly welcomed.
Yes, according to the US government, Nigeria may be facing an apocalypse. But, like climate change, it’s not something the regime can do anything about since it’s not something Nigerians can control, but rather, though the secularists at State wouldn’t say so, “an act of God.”