OxBlog

Thursday, March 09, 2006

# Posted 9:47 AM by Patrick Porter  

AFRICAN GENOCIDE? JUST AMERICAN CRIMES PLEASE: Nick Cohen, an Observer commentator with real gravitas, reminds us that while human rights violations committed by the USA and Israel make top billing in the Church of England, the United Nations and the literary world, an African massacre is out of fashion (hat tip, Erudito):

The confusion isn't confined to the General Synod of the Church of England. The United Nations tried to suppress a report that named the alleged war criminals of Darfur, in a way that it would never have suppressed the names of alleged torturers at Guantanamo. On the blacklist was that friend of freedom, Mr Hussein [the defence minister]. While he was ranting at the journalists, he said that if the UN sent troops to protect the people of Darfur, al-Qaeda would flood the country. 'Darfur will become the graveyard for the United Nations,' he promised with what sounded like inside knowledge.

Isn't that an extraordinary threat for a UN member to make? Why isn't every liberal newspaper and liberal party fulminating? Because genocide is out of fashion, dear. It may make a retro return in 2008, say, or 2009. Books called We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed will win literary prizes. Lachrymose documentaries will appear on BBC2, probably narrated by Fergal Keane. The Church of England will apologise, as it invariably does. They will all cry: 'Never again!' And at that precise moment, it will be happening again.

Right on. We will get films made about Darfur where the actors claim not to have know about it until they did their 'research.' The films will focus not primarily on the world's failure, but on some uplifting story about one character who was good amidst so much bad. It will be designed to make us feel better about the human spirit as we leave the cinema.

Never again indeed. Until next time.
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Comments:
you all need to adjust your sidebar and add patrick porter's name!
 
In this, as in all things, cf. Paul de Man: ‘At the moment that they claim to do away with literature, literature is everywhere; what they call anthropology, linguistics, psychoanalysis is nothing but literature reappearing, like the Hydra’s head, in the very spot where it had supposedly been suppressed.’ (Blindness and Insight).

Fergal Keane's Season of Blood was a bit less, actually, no, wait, it was just as sensationalist.

I thought that Rwanda was still a hot topic. I makes such a potent meme at the moment because of the nexus of imperialist guilt and Holocaust hangover. It's like being a middle-class student giving to charities you can't really afford to support because daddy earns $$$. It's also because we already said 'Never again' in 1946. It's because it's the result of the Belgians irresponsible withdrawal policies and we're looking at the consequences of ill-planned, ill-executed exit strategies somewhere else in the world right now too. Surely all these things make it a relevant piece of sensationalism to endorse at the moment, in the absence of more soberly presented 'coverage'. (Ie, less obvious fiction.)

Ps. I know I cited de Man. Let's not talk about Le Soir.
 
patrick porter a provocative individual-- keep stimulating my head with your ideas. Pss..I am watching your space.
 
Nick Cohen writes for The Observer, which is The Guardian's Sunday sister paper but - as you probably know - has a separate editorial team and a different line on many issues. I very much doubt that Cohen would be invited to write for The Guardian these days.
The fact that the two papers share the Guardian's website seems to have misled you. At least you haven't done what some on the internet do, and called it "The Guardian Observer" or "The Observer Guardian".
 
good point, will correct the post now.
 
good point, I'll correct the post now.
 
Anonymous sub one (that's sub in the non-leather mouthpiece sense, incidentally) - I entirely agree Dr Porter needs to be up on the marquee. We will proceed to slap him up there with all the adeptness and technical voracity you'd expect from three men who were educated in the U.K.

If on the other hand any of you wanted to email him this year, please do drop me a note and as his secretarial staff in chief I shall pass it along.
 
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