Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Two Cents

There's been a lot of people in the liberal blogosphere calling for the impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney recently, people who had declined to do so until recent political events (namely the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence).

Bloggers of a more radical bent have been calling for impeachment for years while those same liberal folks claimed that impeachment wasn't necessary or politically viable, while, in some cases, attacking the radical bloggers for being crazy or alarmist. Bloggers of an even more radical bent just sighed and went back to work, or ignored the whole farce altogether.

Just sayin'.

Second, I think that most of the liberal folks who are calling for impeachment are having problems seeing the big picture (a phrase I do hate, yes). The current system, insofar as it ever worked like it's supposed to (hell, even like it 'worked' from WWII-1992), is no longer working in the same fashion. We are even farther from the abstract ideal of a "democratic republic" or a "democracy" than we were before the middle of Clinton's term, when the nascent Conservative Movement really started frothing at the mouth.

There are lots of structural issues that are impeding impeachment (one of the large ones being that many people actually think we live in a democracy). If things were working like they do in high school government classes, the current President might not have made it into office in the first place, and certainly wouldn't have stayed in office past 2004.

More acute observers are aware that the fight is actually over 'maintaining the system' (and they say this like the system is worth keeping!), but I'm not sure even they realize how much things have changed, or how much things (even pre-Bush) don't match the abstract ideals many Americans hold about the United States.

Maybe this whole sad episode will radicalize some of them - it, along with the emergence of blogging and the Internet, sure has brought a bunch of new folks into politics - but I wonder about what they will learn from all of this. Will they learn about systems of oppression? Will they learn about structural power and the ugly side of U.S. history? Will they learn about the reasons Democrats went along with so much of this crap for a long time (and it's not just the people, people - it's the system), reasons like the two-party system and the need for campaign finance reform? Will they learn about the downside of capitalism instead of learning about the downside of Republican governance?

Will the learning people do - those that even bother, that is; I'm thinking mostly the recent upsurge in Democratic Party activists and "engaged citizens" - will their learning be about the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and how to wage a partisan political war, or will it involve challenging their assumptions about America? Will it involve doing some internal work and becoming different people?

Will it involve more than outrage?

Friday, July 20, 2007


Messing with the line height, trying to solve the blockquote problem.

This could get ugly as I don't know HTML.

Fodder for Conspiracy Theorists

I've become less inclined in the last few years to give much credence to conspiracy theories. My thinking is basically Occam's Razor: The simplest explanations for all the crazy shit that goes on don't really need to resort to conspiracies, viz, Iraq wasn't really a conspiracy so much the result of a bunch of folks who all thought alike and were in positions of power.

All that said, um, I'd like to see this one explained:

WASHINGTON -- Oregonians called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio says.

Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn't know who did it or why.

"We're talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee."

Maybe this is just a case of the Bush Administration being dicks for the sake of being dicks, as the Blue Oregon post I stole this link from suggests.

More likely, I think, is that whatever's in the document is probably based on their crazy theory of the unitary executive - you know, the normal kind of Bush insane we've all come to expect.

Hering Still Makes No Sense

I've got it!

Hasso Hering is to the D-H as the WSJ Editorial page is to the rest of the paper: While the DH does a pretty good job of reporting the news, Hering writes editorials that bear absolutely no resemblance to reality. Constantly.

First up:

Lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 492 in order to provide some oversight, medical and otherwise, for “mixed martial arts.” This is a form of fighting in which two contestants try to subdue each other any way they can and where one man is seen to squat on top of the other more often than appears seemly.

Yup, he's basically talking about The Octagon. And you know what? For once, I agree with the guy. My libertarian impulse does not extend to the right of people to beat each other senseless - or, what I find more horrifying, that people get a kick out of it.

On the other hand, Hasso is apparently physically disgusted by the thought of two men in an intimate position. Hasso, I have some friends you should meet....

Next up - and this follows way too nicely from the last editorial - Hering on domestic partnership laws:

A Portland judge has just decided a lawsuit in favor of two women, a gay couple who are raising two children. The facts of the case show why Oregon law has been behind the times and needs to be updated with the domestic partnership bill passed this year.

Wait! What?! Hering is coming out in favor of domestic partnerships? No frackin' way....

Oregon voters have said, correctly, that unrelated adults of the same sex cannot marry. But that still left the need for formalizing other types of households where children are in need of stability in the form of adults legally responsible for them. The legislature answered that need with the domestic partnership bill.

Among opponents of homosexual unions, there’s resentment of the partnership law. But let these opponents consider the children, children who have been and will be born into new and unconventional circumstances whether anybody likes it or not. These children are better off if they can have two parents who are legally responsible for them rather than just one.

Oh. Never mind. He still can't stand Teh Gay, but as long as it's for the children, then he's buying...especially if the parents are unmarried heterosexual couples.

I'd give the guy credit for swallowing his disgust for two seconds in favor of his view of the greater good, but someone should tell him that journalists aren't supposed to use the term "heterosexual" anymore to describe human beings. There's a lot of negative stigma attached to that word.

Then again, maybe that's why Hasso decided to use it. And yes, I know it's an editorial, but I believe the style guide still stands (unless it's being broken on purpose) and just because it's an editorial doesn't give the author the right to be mmalicious.

And finally, my personal favorite, Hering on a recent change in Oregon law that allows colleges and high schools more freedom from institutional censorship:

Under the new law, students contributing to “school-sponsored media” have complete “freedom of the press” even though they have none of the accountability that goes along with it.

If legislators and the governor think that’s what is meant by freedom of speech and press, they are misinformed.

Hering is referencing something a high-school journalist apparently wrote:

“The bond issue is coming up again, and you better make your parents vote for it. The stupid and ignorant people in this town have voted it down before. Make sure they crawl out of their caves and see the light this time. Tell them there will be hell to pay if it goes down again and we have to suffer through another year with these shabby facilities. We are the future, and we deserve decent buildings.”

First off: I think the writing in question lacks tact. There's not really much of an argument for it's quality. But - and this is the key point - IT WAS HIGH SCHOOL. If there's ever a place to make mistakes in journalism, that is it.

Second, I think there's a nasty power issue here: A 'real' newspaper editor effectively calling a HS newspaper editorial stupid is not cool. There are a billion better ways that Hering could have handled this, starting with going to the high school and asking the students in question why they thought it was a good idea without judging them in front of the entire readership of the DH.

Third, I suspect the writing in question here would have been allowed by the principal even before the new law took effect. Poor writing is not worthy of censorship.

And finally, this is a great case of the pot calling the kettle black. Hering writes malicious crap all the time, and since a 'professional' has no oversight beyond the publisher, he gets away with it.

Let me quote this passage again:

Under the new law, students contributing to “school-sponsored media” have complete “freedom of the press” even though they have none of the accountability that goes along with it.

For all intents and purposes, Hering has a lot less accountability than the HS students. Put charitably, Hering tried to shoot himself in the foot...and missed.

P.S. As poorly worded as the students' editorial is - and here I agree with Hering that the editorial is probably going to cause less, not more, people to vote for the bond - the students are correct in their argument. I've gone to schools that desperately needed bond measures only to have the voters of the district turn them down repeatedly, and getting angry is a perfectly valid and legitimate response to the community turning its back on you. There are better ways to communicate one's anger than this, that's all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Good Ship Journalism

I'm finding myself really, really interested in this blog Newspaper Death Watch. I've never really had the opportunity to actually listen to someone who is way ahead of the curve, as I think this blog is, when it comes to upcoming structural changes in something as important as the newspaper. And the blog's fierce focus and insistence on beating the drum over and over and over is a big bonus.

One thing of interest: All the media blogs I read suggest that the education of future journalists is actually ahead of, or at least abreast of, the curve - schools are really turning to Internet and multimedia journalism (as opposed to print), but it's the newspapers themselves, the businesses, that are going to be caught out in the cold.

I don't think that bit about education holds true for my college's newspaper (the school doesn't have a proper Journalism program); the local college daily's advisor thinks we should go back to the 1950s.

A few other media blogs I read:

Mark on Media


Bonus Link: Some tips for newspapers on how to survive in the future

Finally, I should add that I know nothing about photography, or photojournalism, or how they play into this. It's not something I've ever really paid attention to, honestly. Off the top of my head, I would expect that the advent of digital would be far kinder to photography than print...but what do I know?

Scary Food Thought of the Day

From my friend Cody, an excerpt from an article on Africa and food:

The key to ending hunger is sustaining Africa's food biodiversity, not reducing it to industrial monoculture. Currently, food for African consumption comes from about 2,000 different plants, while the U.S. food base derives mainly from 12 plants. [emphasis mine] Any further narrowing of the food base makes us all vulnerable because it increases crop susceptibility to pathogens, reduces the variety of nutrients needed for human health, and minimizes the parent genetic material available for future breeding.

Jesus Fucking Christ. The world envisioned in my head is sooooooo far away from where we're going, I don't think two are in the same dimension.

A Link Between Thinking and Memory

It turns out that according to a study by one Adam Brown....

...people who are narrow-minded and dogmatic have a poorer working memory capacity, which is what makes it harder for them to process new information.

That's incredible.

I, of course, immediately go to that ego-filled place wherein I have observed that "liberals"* tend to be more knowledgeable about the world than "conservatives." I have also observed that liberals are more likely to make a value out of learning about the unknown, whereas conservatives tend to be happy within their existing belief system.

...It should also be said that this, of course, applies to everyone across the political spectrum. I don't mean to imply that this is completely one-sided. Just, you know, mostly.

But what does my ego have to do with the study? I guess I would say two things:

1) I would think people who don't value education - and who happen to be hostile to education and/or anything 'intellectual' - would be prime candidates for the above study. It's not just dogmatism, it's hostility towards what Adam Brown was testing for.

2) This really, really explains a lot of wingnuts and why some of them sound like broken records.

*Is this a totally unfair and inaccurate use of the terms liberal and conservative? Is this waaaaay overgeneralizing? Yeah, sort of - but some of this is backed up my personal experience, and I'm not going to claim that these are anything but generalizations or trends.

Thanks to BZ for the link.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is This Subversive?

Via Pandagon, or Unsprung, or wherever the hell it is Amanda Marcotte is blogging these days, an image that caused me to do a triple-take.

I'm not really sure how to take this. I have no idea how it plays in a French - or English - context, and I know it would be incredibly controversial in the U.S. (Just imagine it using football players instead of rugby players.)

Click the link for a larger image (and look closely)

Personally, I think it is hilarious and subversive as hell.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Posted Without Comment

OK, one comment: I am pissed. Given the nature of the show, I have small doubts. However, this is such a large claim to make without proof, so I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt overall. That and the NYT ran a story on it.

Via Today Yesterday and Tomorrow.


There are two posts in the works, one on the Oregon Country Fair and one more on the Gen-Y article.

I am lazy, and a friend is down, so don't expect them anytime soon. Just know that I am thinking about them. They will not be link dumps.

VDH - Sounds like a disease to me

From some guy with a blog (thanks, J), a column by Victor Davis Hanson, who is apparently a scholar...though I don't see any evidence of it based on this example.

Over at Engage, J takes the high road in asking questions about Hanson's column.

I am not going to take the high road. VDH is an idiot.

He gets me at the first paragraph:

Is “ho”—the rapper slang for the slur “whore”—a bad word? Always, sometimes, or just when an obnoxious white male like Don Imus says it? But not when the equally obnoxious Snoop Dogg serially employs it?

Um, there are actually lots of black people who don't like those words, either. Thing is, many of them are black women. When white folks make complaints like this, it suggests they haven't heard - or bothered to look for - any black people, male or female, who are speaking out against misogynistic language like this.

This sort of smug, self-righteous garbage makes me think someone like VDH here is a bit of a racist. Or, at the least, he's exercising some class and race privilege here - he gets to call people out for "not speaking out" about something, when really it's he who hasn't been listening.

And that's the opening paragraph. I don't think I'm going to like this column.

Moving on:

Americans increasingly cannot seem to answer questions like these adequately because they are blissfully uneducated. They have not acquired a broad knowledge of language, literature, philosophy, and history.

Instead, our youth for a generation have been fed a “Studies” curriculum. Fill in the blanks: Women’s Studies, Gay Studies, Environmental Studies, Peace Studies, Chicano Studies, Film Studies, and so on. These courses aim to indoctrinate students about perceived pathologies in contemporary American culture—specifically, race, class, gender, and environmental oppression.

Such courses are by design deductive. The student is expected to arrive at the instructor’s own preconceived conclusions. The courses are also captives of the present—hostages of the contemporary media and popular culture from which they draw their information and earn their relevance.


While I *might* agree that Americans (or at least American college graduates) don't have a "broad knowledge of language, literature, philosophy, and history," I doubt I'd agree with this guy on why that's the case (and for the record, I don't think what Hanson is claiming has EVER been the case - it's a myth). I would blame it on massive reductions in funding for higher education and a push to make even four-year universities into technical schools where students aren't required to take a humanities core (which is a result of students attending college just to make more money and not to get "an education").

Oh, and Hanson's complaint about all the *-Studies departments? Totally irrelevant to his point. The classics classes are still there, at least in every curriculum I've ever seen, and furthermore, the classics classes are usually required as part of a humanities or undergraduate core, while the "Studies" classes are not. They are almost always electives.

On the other hand, it appears Hanson has a problem with the *-Studies' existence:

The theme of all such therapeutic curricula is relativism. There are no eternal truths, only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority. Once students understand how gender, race, and class distinctions are used to oppress others, they are then free to ignore absolute “truth,” since it is only a reflection of one’s own privilege.

Uh-huh. While some courses are indeed set up for the students to deductively reach the professor's conclusions, insofar as this is a problem, it's a problem in all fields and departments, not just those things that VDH doesn't like. It's not like the "classics" courses don't have the exact same issue - what, like there is one correct, objective way to understand the history of white people, and that happens to be the way it's actually taught? Please.

Oh. Whoops. I guess Hanson does think there is one objective truth, since he complains that "The theme of all such therapeutic curricula is relativism. There are no eternal truths, only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority."

Um, that's rather a obviously bullshit statement if you've sat through any of the courses one presumes Hanson is talking about. (And I have. Lots of them.)

First, there's no way to make a blanket claim about all the possible courses in all these fields, which he is doing - note the use of the word "all." Bad VDH! Bad!

Second, he seems to be arguing against the most extreme form of relativism possible, one which lots (and lots and lots and lots) of "Cultural Studies" (to use a broad and inaccurate blanket label) professors who don't believe in this form of relativism any more than Hanson does. That's a logical fallacy called a strawman: Just make up an argument that's not very good or accurate to your opponent, demolish it, and declare victory. It's practically the most common tool used to deride and ignore anyone to the "left" of Joe Lieberman, especially on TV, where I we can't shout back.

I actually took a class on the epistemological foundations of knowledge (in a roundabout way) which really hammered home how this sort of relativism works - and why even someone like me would be better off without it. Suffice to say, there are lots of forms or types of relativism, and Hanson is picking on the most extreme version, which, while certainly used by somebody somewhere, cannot be generalized in the way he is claiming.

There's more:

By contrast, the aim of traditional education was to prepare a student in two very different ways. First, classes offered information drawn from the ages—the significance of Gettysburg, the characters in a Shakespeare play, or the nature of the subjunctive mood. Integral to this acquisition were key dates, facts, names, and terms by which students, in a focused manner in conversation and speech, could refer to the broad knowledge that they had gathered.

Second, traditional education taught a method of inductive inquiry. Vocabulary, grammar, syntax, logic, and rhetoric were tools to be used by a student, drawing on an accumulated storehouse of information, to present well-reasoned opinions—the ideology of which was largely irrelevant to professors and the university.

Sometime in the 1960s—perhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the age—the university jettisoned the classical approach and adopted the therapeutic.

You know what that sounds like? White supremacy. In this case, the way courses used to be taught - viewing everything through a European lens and focusing almost exclusively on the accomplishments and history of white people - can only be labeled as "traditional" or "objective" if those are synonyms with "Eurocentric."

Hanson also claims these courses were inductive, providing tools for students to use later in life. Obviously, then, he doesn't think the same of the "Cultural Studies" material. However, I would argue that it they are fact a whole new set of tools, developed by people focusing on different things than in the past, and using some different assumptions about the world. A major difference is the willingness to focus inward and also on the social aspect of humanity.

I will agree with Hanson that the tools he describes - language skills especially - are extremely useful and instrumental in today's world. I just don't think a) we're losing those because of some nebulously-defined "Cultural Studies" or b) those tools are enough to allow us to understand what's really going on in the world. And I suspect that the way Hanson visualizes those tools leaves a lot of people out in the cold.


If few Americans know of prior abject disasters during the winter of 1776, the summer of 1864, or January 1942, then why wouldn’t Iraq really be the worst mistake in our history?

If there are no intrinsic differences—only relative degrees of “power” that construct our “reality”—between a Western democracy that is subject to continual audit by a watchdog press, an active political opposition, and a freely voting citizenry, and an Iranian theocracy that bans free speech to rule by religious edict, then it will matter little which entity has nuclear weapons.

Hanson's massive and fundamental misunderstanding of relativism also leads to the tripe I just quoted. Find me a college professor who actually believes that, and I'll show you a scarecrow. What he's missing here, and I'm not quite sure how, is that there are still consequences in the everyday lives of almost everybody no matter what you believe, and I think most folks who are in favor of social justice know that. Given how often social justice advocates stamp their feet and scream their faces blue trying to draw attention to those in Darfur, Iran, or Palestine, for example - I would think that Hanson would surely know better.

Oh, and that little dig about Iraq? That's just fucked up (unless I am misunderstanding - the sentence is very convoluted). Hanson is apparently claiming that the lack of proper education for college graduates are what has allowed us to get mired down in Iraq in the first place, but that makes no sense: The folks who took lots of classes in the "Cultural Studies" area that Hanson derides are the same people that opposed Iraq in the first place, often on the basis of greater relative knowledge of the history and culture of a non-white, non-European area. In other words, us lousy relativists got it right, and the uptight Western Civ folks got it wrong.

Domestic Terrorism

There's a folk singer named Jim Page that I was introduced to some time ago. Yesterday, while I was at the Country Fair, I got the opportunity to hear him sing a few songs. One of them was about a young man who gets out of a poor community by joining the military. It ends with him dying in a shootout with the police in that same town some time later. It turns out that the man decided that he'd rather end up in that situation than be sent back to Iraq for a third time.

For the record, the name of that young man was Andres Raya, and he was from Ceres, California.

What happened in between those two events, you might ask? How could someone be pushed to do something like that?

Via Jack and Jill Politics, again, here is some sort of answer:

CAMP PENDLETON, California (AP) -- A corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to "crank up the violence level."


When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: "We beat people, sir."


Unable to find him, the Marines and corpsman dragged another man from his house, fatally shot him, and then planted an AK-47 assault rifle near the body to make it appear he had been killed in a shootout, according to court testimony.

Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.

"I don't see it as an execution, sir," he told the judge. "I see it as killing the enemy."

He said Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency.[emphasis mine]

Teaching tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of young men to dehumanize whole groups will have consequences.

What happens when all those people come home? What will their lives be like? How will they relate to their friends, families, and coworkers? What will happen as they get jobs, and get promotions, and are placed in charge of people? As is inevitable, a small percentage of them will enter politics. What kinds of policies will they promote if this is part of their worldview?

How does the fact that this sort of information isn't present in the public consciousness change things? What are the consequences of the fact that most Americans don't have any idea what the conditions on the ground are?

Finally, what does it mean that a search of Google News for "Andres Raya" gets two hits? TWO. And one of them isn't even a US paper; I think the other is a local Illinois paper.

Baby Demand

From Jack and Jill Politics, a site I find myself liking more and more, some disturbing news:

"At the very top of the adoption hierarchy are white, blue-eyed, blond-haired girls," Fleming said. "And unfortunately, at the very bottom of the hierarchy are African-American boys."

It turns out that people from Canada and Europe are adopting African-American babies, while Americans are going overseas to adopt, often for European or Asian babies.

This is what I would call very good evidence of white supremacy, the belief that white children are best.

It also goes hand in hand with the prevailing stereotypes that people from Asia are naturally smarter.

In any case, I'll echo the original post:

Is there anything more revealing about what society considers beautiful or valuable than which children we would choose to have, if we could choose?

Don't tell me that skin color, or race, or ethnicity don't matter. There's so much evidence to the contrary.

Bringing Down the Dictatorship

Today is going to be a link-fest - I've not been inspired to write a lot of original material over the weekend, and I don't know if this week will be any different.

I have, however, found a lot of really good stuff. Of it all, this is perhaps the best piece, one that I find myself agreeing with often.

Over at Feministing, someone named Nezua has a lot to say about the revolutionary nature of love.

And she's dead serious.

This excerpt reminds me of an ongoing discussion I'm in participating in at another blog:

There is a false dichotomy available in what I imagine is every person’s mind, one easy to buy into. Sort of a built-in downhill slope, path of least resistance that leads into imaginary constructs…that become traps. We become guided into these divisions, these paradigms, told these are the two options. We become “Pro-this” and “Anti-this,” “Democrat, “Republican,” “Left,” “Right,” etc—and that is the end of it. We fall fast upon one side or another…and there we grab tight. And we do this in so many areas. We hear a word or two or phrase from someone, imagine we have sussed out their angle on an issue, and/or know of their sex/ethnicity/background or party, and summarily slot them into the “opposite” camp.

I've finally learned how to avoid that trap, but recognizing that it existed was difficult. It's something I see a lot of people who are marginally involved in politics doing, or people who have just begun to talk about politics and are looking to get more deeply involved.

Where does this come from? Off the top of my head, the two-party system. Both major parties have an incentive to pretend there's only two positions on an issue, because each party think it will get the support of at least 50% of the people that way.

The reality is that there are never just two positions on an issue. Reality is far more complicated.

A second reason:

As far as much of our modern-day arguments, I have no idea when we decided we were all so simple, so easily bisected. It seems everything from our political party system to each and every political issue is cloven into two warring sides, arguments, paradigms. And if there is only one of two sides to fall on, what more choice does one have? Acting and thinking as if there are only two viable positions to take in any area curtails reasonable conversation, thought, and alliance. It necessitates division.

I would call it divide and conquer - the placing of everyone into two camps limits people to defending their camp or attacking the other camp. And neither camp ever, ever seeks to attempt true social change. As a result, the two-camp system also serves the white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy, since that's the underlying status quo (h/t bell hooks).

Anyway, go read the whole thing. It's involved, but it's good.

Africa and the United States- Our (unchanged) Relationship

via BoingBoing, a column in the Washington Post that points out just how much us "Westerners" still foreground white people and push Africans into the background, even when talking about Africa:

Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotype of Africa as a black hole of disease and death.


These descriptions run under headlines like "Can Bono Save Africa?" or "Will Brangelina Save Africa?" The relationship between the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racist beliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heyday of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and "civilization."


And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West's prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.


Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as having been "granted independence from their colonial masters," as opposed to having fought and shed blood for their freedom?

Well said. Go read the whole thing.

No matter how much goodwill one has, or how well one means to do, knowledge and self-awareness are still required.

How can people honestly talk about Africa without really talking about Africa at all, but instead talking about the white people who visit Africa and the rich white countries that fund a lot of the work? (And yes, I realize it's near-total folly to speak of "Africa" like it's one country.)

Also: It's arrogant and racist to expect Africans to automatically be grateful to receive Western help. For many Africans, Western "help" was the problem in the first place.

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