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Monday, July 04, 2005

Take a hike, Sir Bob

The world's media has mostly swallowed the propaganda surrounding Live 8's mission to save Africa. The Sydney Morning Herald led today with this article, headlined: "Act now or it's genocide." Barely a criticism of the event could be found within its pages. The Age's Associate Editor Pamela Bone continued the hyperbole by calling Tony Blair "surely...the world's statesman." Why were politicians so committed to the cause? Bone says it was because they were "motivated by ordinary human decency." Her, and much of the mainstream media's blind acceptance of the current "save Africa" campaign, is tragic.

The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown today exposes the gross hypocrisies of the Live 8 campaign and the grave necessity of truly providing assistance to Africa.

Her main points include:

"Birhan Woldu, an emaciated Ethiopian child, was shown on our screens. We rushed to give more money. On Saturday she stood on stage, a beautiful young woman who so nearly got buried in the famines all those years ago. But to see her being led on and off by Madonna took away the respect Woldu was entitled to. An African woman with such a story was not enough. A fake blonde celeb had to flank her to make her more attractive to the audience.

"Then Madonna, a landowner who resents blameless ramblers walking through her estate, calls for a "revolution". Can you blame me for feeling nauseous?

"We haven't even got to the really stinking hypocrisy. Is it true that the Geldof girls were flown in by helicopter, so that they could be there to remember the poor and dying? That even on such a day, VIPs couldn't bear to mix with the common folk because that (presumably) would be, like, a tad too democratic? That there had to be a VIP area where champagne bubbled for paying corporate clients?"

And this gem:

"Next question from this sceptic. Why were artists not allowed to slag off Blair or Bush or Brown? (Or to mention Iraq?) These leaders tacitly support the exploitation of resources by Western companies in Africa, unfair trade barriers too, and the immoral arms exports. They infantalise Africans and cannot see them as equals. But please don't dare to mention these small matters, commanded St Bob. Thanks to these unspeakable tongue-tying orders, Blair was not called to account for the viciously cruel deportations of African refugees back into the hellish countries they fled."

So what did Africans think of it all? Global Voices has a round-up of blogger reaction from the continent.


Anonymous Phil said...

The whole thing was/is a crock of shite. Forget trade and anything else, the real beginning on this is the end of big power hegemony and geopolitics.

I'll believe there is a start to this when the Milicorps and the governments that do their bidding stop selling arms to the very dictators and governments that many on the right are now blaming for the ills of the global south.

Then we can get on with actually reforming and rebuilding the global institutions that now help to keep many of the worlds poor in eternal servitude.

As an aside, the "soft on dictatorships" argument used by the right has served to neuter the argument on the duplicity of global institutions in creating this mess. the soft wealthy left,(Bono/Geldof), fearful of being wedged on the ''supporting dictatorships" talking point has meekly let the WTO's and banks and the like pretty well off the hook now. No talk about the poverty men like Karimov of Uzbekistan is causing, and it's not ok to say that that's different and ignore it because it is one and the same.

I note today that Bush says pigs arse to all of this. "I serve America's interests first". Or in the immortal words of Cartman, "screw you guys, I'm outta here".

Monday, July 04, 2005 8:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

Of course the whole event is helplessly caught up in the narcisstic trappings of celebrity, but the painful facts are that hardly anyone would pay attention to the situation in Africa if they weren't involved. to be brutally succinct, if Madonna wasn't there, the world wouldn't care.

Live8 isn't going to end poverty in Africa, no sir. But it's better than nothing.

One hopes that some of the world's more powerful politicians would somehow acquire the compassion for the poor that so many hypocritical yet still well-meaning celebrities have shown.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 10:51:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

Hmm, I think you might be over generalising a bit there Guy.

Yep, there are many thousands - maybe millions - of complacent Westerners who would otherwise have spared barely a thought for third world poverty if Bono and Sir Bob hadn't told them what to think.

But there are also many thousands of committed activists who would have used the G8 summit to hightlight the exploitation of the third world in the name of 'free trade' regardless of whether Live8 existed or not - just as they have at every other G8 gig for the past decade or so.

The question is whether Live8 increased the attention paid to the real inequities in the global economy or simply distracted people from it by feeding them sentimentalism and crappy pop songs.

Its probably still a bit early to say, but I think Live8 was probably worthwhile because the suckhole popsters tried to keep the focus on emotional schlock instead of the part played by G8 leaders in perpetuating and deepening world poverty. In promoting themselves, they also inadvertently gave wide publicity to the views of their critics.

But at least there's one likely positive outcome for the third world from the rehabilitation of the careers of has-been pop stars. I think some impoverished farmers in Afghanistan and Columbia can count on a boost to their income in the near future.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 9:05:00 pm  

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