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Wallace's News Page: July 2004. THE SPCA 

As many of you will already know, I am a predominantly black dog and unsurprisingly, as my awareness grows I recently discovered that cradle of civilization, the Dark Continent. Inhabited mostly by black people, and where the earliest relics of mankind were found. Being a European dog, it is not easy for me to figure out quite what goes on there.

First, I tried to find an opinion on Mugabe and Zimbabwe. It seems clear to us all, even Harry who is one of the oldest dogs on the towpath, that Mugabe is a very silly, unhappy, misguided man responsible for a great many foolish decisions that have already, and will increasingly, cost a great many lives. 

And yet, to the black folk who run Africa he is a hero. He gets standing ovations at the gathering of the African leaders. Yes indeed. The black leaders of Africa love Robert Mugabe. So if we think Mugabe is dumb, either the black leaders of Africa are dumb, or we have got him all wrong?

This made me think of George Bush. The majority of people in the world think of him as a dangerously misguided buffoon, and yet, somewhere people must give him standing ovations too.

So in this sense Mugabe and Bush have a lesson for me.  And that is – from a distance do we have the right to determine who should govern. Has this 'new world' where national barriers are increasingly replaced by International concerns not earned a 'Defencible Rights Organization' that speaks for all citizens of the planet. A little like the United Nations, only better.

America and Zimbabwe both have the leaders they deserve. When this no longer applies, they will change their leadership, one way or another. And if a majority in the world believe the time has come for a change of leadership, when does it become our right to intervene.

Is it not true that the people get the leaders they deserve? We may think the world would be a better place if we removed leaders responsible for terrible self serving life costing decisions but would that really make the world a better place? Bush remains in power despite his obvious qualifications for a lengthy prison term because:

  • Americans (with a few notable exceptions) don’t really care enough to do something about it. The salve of ignorant bliss is quite suffficient for the majority.
  • If you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth
  • Might is right.
  • The law does not apply to the American president.

When do we say – enough is enough – and justify military intervention. Those Taliban were real bad. Is Afghanistan better off now? Is there really any better illustration of the futility of war and propaganda than Pat Tillman – giving up his all American million dollar football contract to go die in Afghanistan – by an American bullet. How much sense does that make. American hero or American buffoon? Freedom fighter for America or terrorist in Afghanistan?

Saddam was a bad fellow. Is Iraq really better off now. For that matter, and returning to my theme du jour, the Dark Continent, has American aid to Somalia helped or hindered the people there? Who do WE think we are to forcibly change the values of another country when they do not directly threaten ours.

If helping the downtrodden masses escape the murderous policies of undemocratic tyrannical leadership is the criteria for intervention, then I would love to know how America chooses their targets.

If its lives being lost then we have a no contest on our hands.

Consider the Sudan. Right next to Ethiopia, where ten years ago a massive consignment of arms from South Africa (Sanctioned sadly by Nelson Mandela) helped contribute to the barbaric killing of many hundreds of thousands of helpless black Africans. The Sudan is now looking to outdo its neighbor.

Tribal war in the Sudan spreads at an alarming rate. A humanitarian disaster is in progress. More than 50,000 have already died of war related symptoms. More than 600 people are dying daily from ‘war related’ disease and starvation.

The daily mortality rate is likely to rise to more than 3,000 per day during the rainy season. And the projections by those who know are that if we (the civilized nations) act now, only 300 000 Sudanese will die. If we don’t, a death toll of one million is more likely.

That’s the bottom line. About one million people will be dead by Christmas.

Most of the dead will be children, because of course, that is the traditional African way. The weakest go first. Women and Children.

So to recap:

Right now, July 2004 we have a massacre in progress. Hundreds of thousands of children are going to die miserable deaths before your next Christmas dinner. These sad facts are consistent with what goes around every few years in Africa, and has done for a very long time. It is evidently the African way.

And what shall we do with this news. We intervened in Bosnia – in Kuwait – in Iraq – in Afghanistan. Shall we not do something about the Sudan?

Consider that this news item (to date) has not warranted one hundredth as much news coverage as Brooklyn Beckham. In press terms, or column inches, one rich white boy is worth a million hopelessly poor black ones. News coverage is prioritized according to demand. We get the news we want. Filtered commercially for its market place. Extend this principle far enough, and you can invent all kinds of priorities for news column inches. Remember when Weapons of Mass destruction was a popular news story? Did you believe it then. If no one is ever held accountable for misleading news, will anything ever change?

If the news media do not deem a story suitable, the political support for intervention will not follow.

This media misrepresentation is grist to Africa’s tragedy mill. Its hard enough for non Africans to form an enlightened understanding of Africa without the curve balls of media filtering, often on the basis of Political correctness.

And so, as an average dog on the towpath, who has never visited Africa or the Sudan, how qualified am I to have any opinion on the filtered news I receive about hundreds of thousands of children soon to die in the Sudan. Does it matter whether I care or not. And if I did care enough to try and do something to help them, would I, in fact, be causing as much harm as the generations of well intentioned helpers in the past who have left Africa so much the worse off for their misguided meddling.

Is it surprising that the Sudanese continue ‘business as usual’. Only yesterday the Sudan and Libya played a qualifier for the African Cup football tournament. If the Sudanese footballers don’t see too much too worry about there why should the rest of the world? Mind you, these are the same people who see nothing wrong with Female circumcision. (90% of young women in the predominantly Muslim Northern Provinces are subject to the barbaric practise of genital mutilation ... ) You could argue the Taliban were morally superior to the Sudanese.

Being a Boolean dog, I have reduced my position on this issue to the two basic choices. Either you choose ignorance, or you don’t.

Easiest it is to sustain ignorant bliss. There is very little up side to taking on board the plight of the Sudan. We are the in the  ‘No profit, no motive’ years, and there is no profit in African Aid. If you need any help in encouraging this position, you can find all the help you need in the suckling mother of all ignorance. TV. Reality TV shows/ humiliating interactive competitions and any number of soap opera’s designed to nurture your need not to know. Feeding you a constant diet of mindless idiocy to ensure that what comes out eventually matches exactly what went in.

Its harder to face facts than ever before in our history, because we have so many more facts to face up to. Its easier to develop an opinion than ever before for the same reason. All thats needed is the ability to discriminate.

Although I have the limitation of being a small black dog with a preference for expressing myself with urine, I am developing my sense of discrimination to enable me to form my own opinion on all of this. And here it is.

Surely there is a better way. Surely the servants of greed, avarice and ignorance should not be allowed to destroy innocent life unopposed?  Finding the ‘right thing to do’ is a longer journey than I had imagined. Developing independent thought seems to me to be a lifetimes work towards understanding and living by the universal laws that govern us all, and without cognizance of which we continue to blunder aimlessly through endless cycles of fundamentalist greed driven religion based wars while the mistakes of History pile high upon on the dying embers of the same mistakes they replace.

And so this is the way I interpret the Sudan and all those dead children that may or may not spoil the taste of Christmas dinner. Ignore it and you can say it is their destiny to go that way. Who are we to interfere with the ways of Africa. We are not imperialist supremacists who would presume to suppose our value system is superior to those of the black Africans.

If their culture is happy hacking away at the genitals of their young girls (Performed with a non surgical implement on pre-pubescent girls, as young as 3) should we presume that our culture is superior because we dont practise this ritual? Or, if they then go on to kill these mutilated children in the name of tribal dominance, should we accept that their right to self determination over rides our sense of social outrage.  

At what point do we recognise the forces of darkness as a legitimate target for our collective attention. Certainly whilst we allow ignorant world leadership the prospects seem gloomy. The Billions the Bush regime saw fit to squander on Iraq and Afghanistan may well have been better spent protecting the generation of mutilated Sudanese children who will continue to die horribly for as long as the common sense available to a Surrey dog exceeds that of the most powerful man in the world.

Lucky for me, we treat English dogs a lot better than foreign kids. We even prosecute those who hurt animals in this Country. We have an organisation that looks into these cases. Called the RSPCA.

If we dogs can have this protection, why does the UN (Or whatever Global Organisation exists to protect basic rights) not start a Society of prevention of cruelty to children ANYWHERE. The SPCCA.

Whatever the politics of right and wrong, of foreign intervention or whatever, children should have some protection against horrific abuse by those who believe this principle, and who have the means to act.

Or, come think of it, we could try to convince the worlds most powerful idiot that there's oil in them thar kids - and who knows. Shouldnt be too difficult if we do it in Jesus name.

Whoops – I can hear the sound of my bowl being lifted. Dinner is imminent. Some things are just not open to any interpretation. We all need to eat. So the starving, mutilated and soon to be dead Sudanese will just have to wait until the next time I have a moment to consider their plight. It’s chicken and rice for me tonight.

Woof woof ....Wallace.

PS: Dont get me started on SAINT BOB. Is their any lower activity than using the misfortune of others to promote you own success. Bob gets millions - a knighthood - and a SAINTLY reputation for what? Contributing handsomely to the deaths of many Africans as a direct result of his self serving interference. Research it for yourself!

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