Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On Kristallnacht and the DRC

Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, as the series of Nazi attacks against businesses owned by Germany's Jews are called, regardless of one's native language. I notice that this grim signpost is receiving a respectable amount of coverage and attention but, deep as I am into the writing of my new book on the wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I must confess that I have one strong feeling today.

Over the last decade and a half, as many people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo as died during the Holocaust, many as the result of ethnically-based slaughter, all while the West at best largely stood by and at worst actively colluded with the killers. There are places in eastern Congo where as one writer noted one would feels they have stepped into a scene out of the Old Testament. Is it because the Congolese were black and African that so few people know the names of places like Mbandaka, Tingi-Tingi or Kasika? Are we as news writers and news consumers that myopic and that blinded by our own stereotypes of Africa and Africans?

I fear not a whole lot has changed.

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