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I received a fair amount of critical mail in response to my recent post on Darfur, which questioned some information and data used by advocacy groups. For the record, I’m not seeking to impugn the motives of activists or compare Save Darfur with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which built up a $100 million-plus endowment by hyping the threat posed by the Ku Klux Klan and whose coffers now burst with more money than the annual GDP of the Marshall Islands. But I still believe advocacy groups have peddled misinformation (deliberately or not) about Darfur and don’t see how handing a major PR victory to your sworn enemy is smart politics.
However, in the spirit of open-mindedness and impartiality, I am going to post two links here that include contrary opinion. First, there’s a debate earlier this year between Alex de Waal, whose work I cited in my original post, and former State Department official John Prendergast, co-chair of the Enough Project.
Second, is a piece by Eric Reeves, who estimates the number of people dead in Darfur is upwards of 500,000.
Finally, there’s a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which suggests the high-end estimates may be inflated. “[P]olicymakers require an accurate estimate of the death toll in Darfur to understand the dimensions of the crisis and determine the U.S. response,” the GAO said.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”