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Atrocity Season 2008

Roll up! Roll up! It’s African atrocity season. That’s right: There’s conflict [1] in the Congo, and every moral crusader [2] worth his salt–except those tied up in Washington–is going. It’s the worst (therefore best) horror show in our global town.

On Spiked, Brendan O’Neill has an impressive rant [3] against the type of moralizer who cares about Africa to gratify him or herself. Here’s Brendan on the “rape-trawlers” of the Congo:

Vast numbers of Western feminists have descended on the Congo to search for rape stories; as one report says ‘activists from overseas have been pouring in’. European aid agencies have built special rape courthouses and prisons across eastern Congo, and even introduced ‘mobile courts’ that hold rape trials ‘in villages deep in the forest that have not seen a black-robed magistrate since the Belgians ruled the country decades ago’ (8). The American Bar Association built a rape ‘legal clinic’ in the Congo earlier this year. Congolese investigators have been flown to Europe to be taught ‘CSI-style forensic techniques’ in uncovering rapes (9). The American author of the hit play The Vagina Monologues made a publicised visit to the Congo to encourage more and more women to give ‘public testimonies’ about their experiences. She describes rape in the Congo as ‘femicide’, part of a ‘systematic campaign to destroy women’. Maybe these savages are even worse than Hitler. She also said that she heard stories about women ‘being forced to eat dead babies’ – the first time in years that the image of Africans as cannibals has made a return to respectable public debate.

This might go some way towards explaining why the Congo’s war-related rape crisis is allegedly the ‘worst in the world’: because well-financed forces from the West are searching everywhere for rape, making it more likely, comparative to other conflicts, that crimes of rape will be reported and recorded.

There is, as Brendan suggests, something demented and racist about the west’s lustful obsession with bloodshed and sexual abuse in “the dark continent”. It’s an existential problem: we feel a need to feel, but just don’t feel anything unless our emotional antennae pick up the familiar signals of sex and violence.

How long before the next American president threatens to intervene in the DRC? Perhaps Bush will beat them to it.

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#1 Comment By Xanthippas On November 3, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

How long before the next American president threatens to intervene in the DRC? Perhaps Bush will beat them to it.

This is silly. We were not interested in making any commitment to Rwanda when 1 million Tutsis were being killed. We certainly will not intervene here.