Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Mother Africa's Left-Right Children

James Wolcott goes after conservatives for applauding the wonderful spine shown by the Ethiopian government by going after the Islamists in next-door neighbor Somalia:

Scarcely a day into the New Year and the right blogosphere was already floating a new theme song:

Why oh why can't the US be more like Ethiopia?

Yes, these are the depths to which the debacle in Iraq have driven them: extolling the martial virtues of plucky little Ethiopia. Unlike we in the West, they are not o'ercast with the sickly pallor of thought and handcuffed with the legalisms that have made the West such a haven for dhimmitude, whatever that is.
Of course, an ideologue will jump at the opportunity to see the success of his or her vision even if the evidence doesn't exactly support it.

However, Wolcott has missed the big point here: Arguably, this embrace of Ethiopia's tactics with respect to Somalia may actually signal rare cross-ideological agreement by members of America's Left and Right elite.

Even as the bloody soil Right sees the possibilities of the War on Terror done correctly in the Ethiopia-Somalia onflict, the bleeding-heart Left sees in Africa just the "correct" sort of poor people that are worthy of their largesse.

Angelina and Brad decide that Namibia was the ideal place for them to give birth to their golden spawn.

Then Lady Madonna decides that, well, yes, an African baby would be just the perfect complement to her own Anglo-American offspring.

Now, comes this philosophical insight from the Queen of Daytime Pacification herself as she prepares to open a $40 million school for 152 girls outside of Johannesburg:
Oprah also knows that some people will complain that charity should begin at home, even though she has provided millions of dollars to educate poor children in the United States, especially via her Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program. But she sees the two situations as entirely different. "Say what you will about the American educational system—it does work," she says. "If you are a child in the United States, you can get an education." And she doesn't think that American students—who, unlike Africans, go to school free of charge—appreciate what they have. "I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn't there," she says. "If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."

Heaven forfend that American kids ask for sneakers or iPods -- instead of uniforms!

Clearly, Africans have their priorities straight: The Ethiopians know how to fight Islamists in a war -- and those nice South African girls know that it's better to ask for uniforms rather than money or toys! Let us thus sprinkle down proper rewards on these Africans for showing Americans the correct way to go!

The judgment rendered by those on the Right and the Left seems the same: Americans have forgotten their way, obsessed with their own materialistic lifestyles to either focus on defeating the Islamist threat -- or concentrating on our schoolwork. Enough is enough! Throw your hands up in the air and give up on Americans and let's train our focus where the primitives understand what's truly important.

Now, I don't want to appear dismissive about what Oprah is doing for these kids in Africa (though, notably, the South African government has separated itself from the school -- believing that, well, $40 million might go a little bit further than for 150 kids). And, yes, she does do much charitable stuff for American young people. However, her arrogance concerning the students at inner-city American schools is rather, um, rich.

Are America's kids too materialistic for their own good? Yes, definitely.

But where do they get that attitude from? Surely, it couldn't be from a woman who decides to give all of her (primarily middle-class female) audience members a brand new car?

Surely, it wouldn't be from a woman who throws a fit because she wasn't allowed into a fancy Parisian boutique after closing time -- and then uses her show to protest about how she was dissed by Hermes?

Nah, no way that kids' sense of materialism might be influenced that way, right?

Ah, wonderful Africa -- the perfect little toybox for wealthy and ambitious Americans to play in!

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