Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why are there pictures of dead Africans in the New York Times?

This is a pet peeve of mine. Why are European and North American media houses willing to splash pictures of dead and/or mutilated bodies of Africans on newspapers and on-air? I really have to find the time to do a proper post on the subject. But while you are waiting, see this, from G. Pascal Zachary:

The New York Times yet again last week displayed a disquieting pattern of presenting dead Africans on the front page of its great newspaper, while refusing to present dead Americans in the same fashion. In the latest instance of what I call the pornography of African, Times editor prominently displayed on the top left corner of its April 24 front page “the burned body of a boy.” The disturbing photo might seem appropriate — unless one considers that the children killed by, for instance, American drone attacks in Yemen or Pakistan, never receive similar photographic display. So even on the narrow grounds of newsworthiness, the contradictions are evident and ample: for mysterious “reasons,” dead Africans can be displayed in lavish fashion — this photo of this dead boy was in color! — while death inflicted by Americans cannot be displayed. Neither are the deaths experienced by Americans in combat suitable for front page photographic treatment (or inside the paper either).

The full article is here.

Pirates and European politics – Video

As you’ve probably heard, the Pirate Party got elected into the Berlin state parliament late last year. They got 8.9% of the votes, which gave them 15 seats. Last month in local elections in another state, Saarland, they got 7.4% of the votes, but more importantly, they got 25% of the first-time voters and about the same share from previous non-voters (see this post by Marian Wirth on Google+). Some people have been pretty dismissive of them. See this article by foreign policy wonk, Dr Ulrike Guérot, in which she compares them to the Occupy movement in the US (I am not even going to try to discuss how seriously misinformed and misleading that is). On the other hand, some say that the Pirates are going to democratise Europe. Well, let’s just say that I dont think that is even one of their main goals. The most important thing to know, as the founder of the first Pirate Party, the Piratpartiet, says in the video below, is that they grew out of a protest movement and they are just beginning to deepen their philosophy. The fact that they are making real inroads in Germany is a sign of that.

What about Africa? They talk a little about that during the last 10 minutes of the video.

Thanks to Menelic for sending me the link to the video.

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Are Germany’s best intentions becoming its fatal flaw?

Elizabeth Grant at Open Democracy:

 … so long as the narrative of a tolerant Germany is more important than the experience of those who are testing that dream, the country will be condemned to repeating these traumas and disgraces. Racism has much to do with accepting what you don’t understand, and, as such, the fight against it takes a lot of lateral thinking. The fact that Germany does not bear the shame of a history of minstrel shows doesn’t make it into a sort of cultural isolation chamber where blackface can be used independent of its connotations elsewhere in the world. The fact that you like eating Turkish food doesn’t make döner kebab a good symbol to use in referring to a tragedy that involved several Turkish Germans. Productive discussions of prejudice necessarily have to allow space for that which is beyond one’s own experience. Tolerance is an endless negotiation: no country has mastered it completely. But to reach the next level Germans must start to contemplate its ‘unknown unknowns’ and have a little faith in someone else’s narrative.


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