Conservative pundits have been denouncing the #BringBackOurGirls hacktivism as a pointless and nonsensical exercise. Rush Limbaugh called it a “pathetic” move by the “low-information crowd.” Ann Coulter tried to mock the whole thing with her own take on the issue. And got mocked. (Hilarious. Personal favorite right here.) And George Will called it simply “an exercise in self-esteem.”
Humanitarian Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe has a different take on the issue. She is a recent addition to the Time 100 for her work as the founder of the Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring Center in Uganda, a place for girls who have suffered sexual assault and exploitation. Sister Nyirumbe says this sort of online movement is important in cases where an issue would not otherwise get the attention it needs for change to occur. She paid a visit to The Colbert Report last night to talk about the book and documentary she’s the subject of, Sewing Hope, but to also talk up the virtues of hashtag activism like #BringBackOurGirls.
“It’s the best we can do and we we haven’t done enough,” she said. “… We must shout ‘Bring back our girls.'”
She also said she would punch Stephen Colbert.
The fact is, many people only know about Boko Haram and this tragic kidnapping (and the others that have taken place since) because of the hashtag and the participation of thousands of people who have tweeted it. Many have credited the action taken by the US and other countries to the raised profile of the case, prompted by the online activism. Even the government of Nigeria, which waited weeks to say anything, took action because more people were talking about it. Will tweeting make Boko Haram release the girls? No. But something is being done because of those tweets, which is more than could be said mid-April.
“The media watches Facebook and Twitter to see what issues people care about. Politicians read newspapers: they also want to get votes. If they see a course of action is popular they’ll try and own that issue,” writes The Independent. Truth.
Here’s a clip of Sister Nyirumbe’s appearance on the show. And yes, #BringBackOurGirls.