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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Ignoring Africa, left and right.

"A LexisNexis search going back to 2000 finds not a single reference to the crises in Congo, Liberia, Sudan, or Zimbabwe from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, or Howard Zinn," writes Peter Beinart in last week's New Republic. "In Congo alone, according to the International Rescue Committee, five years of civil war have taken the lives of a mind-boggling 3.3 million people. How can the leaders of the global left — men and women ostensibly dedicated to solidarity with the world's oppressed, impoverished masses — not care?"

Beinart's answer is that the left today "isn't galvanized by victims; it's galvanized by victimizers" — and the victimizer that has its undivided attention these days is American imperialism.

Lest you think the right is somehow more sensitive to Africa's disasters, however, the New Republic also points out (sub req'd) that President Bush's Africa policies are all talk: "A lot of the money for the AIDS initiative seems likely to come from cutting other spending on African public health," the editors write, like USAID's infectious diseases program. And so far the administration's budget proposes sending only $200 million of the $3 billion Bush had trumpeted in the State of the Union address for African AIDS relief — $150 million less than it gave last year!

When it comes to Africa, both ends of the political spectrum prefer to look the other way.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 19 July 2003 at 11:50 PM

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