Victor Davis Hanson

Nigeria's homegrown, al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Boko Haram, brags openly that it recently kidnapped about 300 young Nigerian girls. It boasts that it will sell them into sexual slavery.

Those terrorists have a long and unapologetic history of murdering kids who dare to enroll in school, and Christians in general. For years, Western aid groups have pleaded with the State Department to at least put Boko Haram on the official list of terrorist groups. But former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's team was reluctant to come down so harshly, in apparent worry that some might interpret such condemnation as potentially offensive to Islamic sensitivities.

Instead, Western elites now flood Facebook and Twitter with angry postings about Boko Haram -- either in vain hopes that public outrage might deter the terrorists, or simply to feel better by loudly condemning the perpetrators.

The Obama administration has exhausted the vocabulary of outrage in condemning the aggressions of Russia's Vladimir Putin. We habitually lecture Mr. Putin that he does not understand it is no longer the 19th century, when blood and arms once settled differences. But Putin has no apologies for his 19th-century worldview of stronger powers dictating to weaker ones as they please. (Nor does Boko Haram have any apologies for slavery.)

Americans go into a frenzy about insensitive language or politically incorrect behavior by some celebrities and public figures -- L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the "Duck Dynasty" TV family, celebrity chef Paula Deen, former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. But if we are postmodern and sensitive, what do we say or do about premodern racists with nuclear weapons, like the North Koreans?

A recent article from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency suggested that President Obama "does not even have the basic appearances of a human being. ... It would be perfect for Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world's largest African natural zoo and lick the bread crumbs thrown by spectators."

How does the West deal with a mentality like that, originating from a country armed with nuclear weapons? Pyongyang owns no television show that we can boycott, no sports team that we can root against.

What do we do in the face of 19th-century evil that is unapologetic, has lethal weapons at its disposal and uses savage rhetoric to goad us? Twitter it to death?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.