Ignorant and ugly: Australian social media attitudes to an African disasterInterestingly, while Rwanda’s 1994 genocide made a tiny but at least visible dent in that crowded country’s rapid population growth, the celebrated Marxist-engineered 1980s We-Are-the-World famine in Ethiopia isn’t even visible in Ethiopia’s soaring population growth.
JULY 4 2017 – 5:43 AM
“Africa made its own problems. Quit having 10 kids. Famine is nature’s way of saying there are too many people. Stop reproducing.”
This comment by one Australian on social media attracted 23 likes. Even though the food crisis gripping East Africa is driven by civil war, drought and economic collapse – not overpopulation – it’s a common refrain among Australians posting on social media and news site comment sections.
“Send them a box of condoms instead of any food. They only know how to breed nonstop and then beg for food,” says another.
Famine is always happening in Africa anyway, right? The aid money never does any good – it just makes them dependent or goes to corrupt officials. We should look after our own. Besides, they’re all Islamic countries anyway. They deserve it.
These are the ill-informed and sometimes ugly attitudes that permeate public commentary around the crisis, which is putting up to 23 million people at risk of starvation and has been described as the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II.
Local NGO Plan International Australia has performed an audit of the public’s perception and attitudes of the disaster as the aid community grapples with why normally generous donors are not responding to this crisis the way they usually do.
It found that despite sympathetic mainstream media news reports on the crisis, the comments in response were consistently and pervasively negative.
Plan CEO Ian Wishart says most of these attitudes come from lazy stereotypes and a poor understanding of the situation – and occasionally also unkindness.
“We’re currently responding to a very serious crisis in the eastern part of Africa that may rival the terrible 1983 Ethiopian famine in scale and severity, yet apathy and negativity about this emergency is widespread,” Mr Wishart said.
Perhaps the Mengistu regime’s war on its political opponents slowed population growth a little, but that was about it.
Plan’s report, Challenging Negative Attitudes About the Food Crisis in East Africa, aims to bust eight of the most common myths.As this graph I made up from last week’s UN population forecast shows, overpopulation has nothing, nothing, I tell you, nothing to do with hunger in countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.
One of the most pernicious is that Islam is to blame for the crisis. …
MOST COMMON ATTITUDES TO EAST AFRICA FAMINE
1. Overpopulation is the cause of the famine.
The reason in 2017 that Somalia is short of food and Thailand isn’t isn’t due to Thailand taking care to get itself off the Malthusian fast-track.
Instead, Africa’s bad luck is due to, uh, global climate change. If Thailand and South Korea were on the same globe as Ethiopia and Somalia, they’d be suffering from global climate change too.