Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why are we surprised?

Abu Ghraib was no aberration, the recent pissing on corpses was no exception, and neither was last week's murder spree. quite the opposite, they are not only part of a larger culture developing in these places, incidents like this reveal the very essence of US ideology which drives foreign policy, they uncover the precise nature of these wars, of the real underlying American sentiment toward these wars, toward the people who have been constructed as enemies.

Bush jr. was unjustly criticized at the time for his use of words, because they were extremely accurate: "crusade". That's exactly what it always was: a civilizing mission to bring the light of Freedom and Democracy to uncultured primitives who are so backward that they are barely human.

With rhetoric like this as justification and guidance, no one should be surprised if a few occasional stories, out of no doubt tens of thousands, should surface.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What is Very Wrong with KONY2012

They give a man 1 fish to feed a family of 10, after having taken 1,000 fishes from him, while continuing to take massive quantities of fish from him every day, with no plans to stop taking fish from him, ever.

The giving of 1 fish makes the givers feel good, and makes them forget about having taken 1000 fish before, and makes it possible for the taking of fish to continue.*

The sentiment, the sympathy, the emotionalism, the tears, the "caring", the charity, the aid -- it is all an integral part of the machine which keeps plundering, raping and murdering Africa (and S. America and S.E. Asia).

The "apolitical" rhetoric of humanitarianism often cloaks, justifies, and ultimately equals military interventionism (intervention which serves economic and political self interest, beneath the talk of aid). Just like the allegedly "neutral" language of "free market", business, and development always conceals hegemonic ideology.

*fish stops being a metaphor and becomes literal when it comes to the Somalian Pirates.

and within the problematic world of Charity and Aid, Invisible Children is especially worrying:

How Invisible Children Falsely Marketed The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act

growing outrage in Uganda over film

TOTAL REVENUE $13,765,180

Advocating increased militarization of a government with plenty of human rights abuses, in order to catch a drastically diminished warlord who left the country 6 years ago, is not what Uganda needs.

It is unethical to knowingly misrepresent a war for any reason, least of all self aggrandizement and paychecks (likely not only from the bulk of revenue, but also likely from Ugandan military)

Invisible Children's super-hero fantasies of white men coming to save Africa make it even easier to disavow historical Western complicity and causation in African atrocities, from Rwanda Genocide to Congo War to LRA.

Again the westerners use the misery that they helped to create to make money and themselves look good while condescending toward and blaming the victim.

the West, and the US, did a lot to cause situations like this and monsters like Kony -- and things like Invisible Children furthers Western/US ideological agendas, not only reinforcing racist notions of superiority, not only prevents accountability for, or even admission of, direct or indirect crimes against humanity on the African continent, but makes it possible for them to keep exploiting, and create more future monsters.

1- From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex.

2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.

3- The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.

4- This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.

5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

6- Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that.

7- I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.
- Teju Cole @tejucole