Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Decide for yourself

If memory serves, Kevin Myers and Mark Steyn are friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. Perhaps Myers was impressed with Steyn's recent run-in with a bizarre administrative speech-regulating tribunal in Canada. Anyway, Myers has drawn the wrath of the Immigrant Council of Ireland for this column from last week's Indo. They've zeroed in on --

They [non-African and once war-torn countries] are now -- one way or another -- virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.

But read the whole thing. It's harsh but heartfelt -- not heartless -- and surely within the range of depressing but not unwarranted Afro-pessimism. He uses Ethiopia as an example because of its large and recurring famines. He doesn't mention the lunacy of its expensive -- and Bush-inspired -- military adventure in Somalia, while people in both countries starve. But here's another example. Niger. Is it obvious why so many people continue to live there, with the Sahara on the march every day (and uranium sales to Saddam no longer the gravy train they once were)? There's not much hate-speech in what he's arguing.

In fact, one thing that we're fairly unaware of in the rich west is what being right next to a chaotic African civil war is like. Ask a South African (other than Thabo Mbeki). You just don't know whether that angry teenager in the street was just a few months ago an angry gun-toting teenager in, e.g. the DRC. It's a different calculation than rushing to the media to complain about offensive newspaper columns.

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