Sunday, April 3, 2011

Good Guys/Bad Guys

In this complex and conflicted world, at least there are two theatres in which the moral choices are clear:  Libya and Ivory Coast.

(1)  In Libya, a hated dictator confronts the struggling unarmed forces of freedom (normally referred to as “civilians” in media accounts).  The world universally condemns the former, and provides military support to the latter.  The saga, as it is told to us,  has, it would seem, drawn hundreds of brave Libyan-Americans to head back to the old country  and put their own bodies in harm's way:  actions reminiscent of the International Brigades against Franco.  The rebels, clad in shining armor, and motivated only by the principles of Madison and Jefferson -- oh wait.  Maybe not.

If Professor Prashad is correct, we have no more business intervening in what would be basically a sectional dispute, than in, say, Katanga when it rebelled against the rest of Congo. -- O wait, there was Western intervention there, by the slippery-slithery Belgians, for their own worst reasons.

(2) In Ivory Coast, a spotlessly conducted election produces a clear winner, the result ratified by a host of international observers.  But the incumbent ignores the election results (“le président sortant  refuse de sortir”).   The winner, refraining from violence, awaits the material support of the international community, biding his time with a rereading of The Federalist Papers.
            Then something strange turns up:  a thousand corpses in a single village, which is held by our spotless democrat.  And oddly, that very village was also protected by hundreds of UN troops, who -- their noses buried in the collected works of Alexander Hamilton -- didn’t notice a thing.   So far, my perusal of the mainstream media has produced no enlightenment; the whole thing is a mystery.
            The only hint of an explanation I stumbled on in Le Monde.  Not, to be sure, in the actual articles of that worthy journal,  notorious for euphemism and underreporting, but in readers' comments.   They may not know what they are talking about;  but since theirs is the only attempt I have encountered so far, to illuminate the problem, I reproduce them here:

Je me pose la même question. Dans l'article il est écrit que c'est dans une mission catholique que les persécutés se sont réfugiés... Petit rappel: Ouatarra est musulman et Gbabo a représenté la communauté catholique. d'où l'extrème pudeur des journalistes.
"Tout semble indiquer qu'il s'agit de violences intercommunautaires."  Expression codée de la langue de bois médiatico-politique, utilisée pour les massacres de coptes en Égypte : l'élément "inter-" signifie "entre" et évoque un lien de réciprocité, ce qui est l'effet recherché. Mais comme il est difficile ici d'imposer l'idée de réciprocité quand on a un massacre de populations civiles par des militaires, on ne saura pas à quelles "communautés" appartiennent les massacreurs et les massacrés.
C'est à cause du méchant Gbagbo que le gentil Ouattara (ancien directeur délégué à l'Afrique du FMI, il ne peut être que très très gentil) laisse ses hommes commettre massacres et exactions. Tout le monde le sait bien, il y a toujours un méchant coupable de tout   et un gentil pas même responsable de quoi que ce soit. Gobez, gogos, gobez.

Where the truth lies, I do not know.   But in both stories, a voracious consumer of the principle television and newspaper media  will not have been presented an explanatory background of the story -- one which is at least hinted at (correctly or not) in a two-minute radio spot, and some amateur comments buried in a foreign newspaper.
[Update 4 IV 2011]:  So now France, its appetite not sated, but whetted, by its Libyan adventure, has fired on Gbagbo's home and palace.
Here, incidentally, is the prize for which all sides contend, as they converge on Abidjan.

The case thus resembles the important one in Tunisia, which we commented on here.


Meanwhile, Tunisia itself, suddenly become a beacon of democracy to the world, has been overwhelmed with an inrush of immigrants seeking relief from poverty and oppression at home -- principally from southern Italy, groaning under the yoke of persistent underdevelopment, the Mafia and the Camorra, and that Berlusconi buffoon:

Oh wait! No.  It’s an outrush of emigrantsTo Italy.

(*Sigh*)  Well, at least we may close with some good news.   Tunisia and Egypt, brother beacons, celebrated their solidarity with a match amical:

Oh, wait ….

~     ~     ~

Nota bene:
The larger editorial point in all this, is not the travails of the individual lands, which indeed have my deepest sympathy, but the way in which much of our media  resembles Top 40 radio, pumping out pop tunes, which the public whistles, blissfully unawares.

No comments:

Post a Comment