Jan 02 2010

Cry wolf (in solidarity with Darfurians)

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 8:38 AM

Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa correspondent for The New York Times, has provided rare documentation for an instance of hyping a crisis in Africa, in this case the past few years when pundits and activists predicted great bloodshed in Darfur that, so far, hasn’t happened. “People were crying wolf,” Mr. Augstburger said. “The crisis within the crisis never happened.”

Gettleman, who has done so much wolf-crying of his own, doesn’t give any activists the chance to rebut his allegations. Eric Reeves, the one Darfur activist who does speak in the article, is introduced to provide agreement with the author. Reeves chastises himself and other activists, albeit gently,for being “slow to recognize how significant this reduction [in violence] has been.”

To be sure, hyping crises in Africa is a banal truth about the business of humanitarian aid. The atrocities in Darfur have been a rallying cry for those seeking to raise their own moral status — and funds — for some time. Perceptive President Obama, having been pressured early in his administration to “intervene” in Darfur, now stands vindicated. In Darfur, Africans are sorting out their own problems, albeit imperfectly.

The lesson is worth embracing. Activists rationalize their Africa exaggerations, believing more assistance and concern is better than less no matter how this global outpouring is achieved. The manufacture of fake headlines, of fake news about Africa is a chief task of the international aid community. Yet real damage is done by crying wolf — to Africa and to international security. More examples of wolf-crying should be documented. While Gettleman himself was slow to produce this article

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