October 10, 2004

Compassion Fatique

This is so predictable:

Nobel peace laureate claims HIV deliberately created

Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, today reiterated her claim that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent.

"Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.

"Us black people are dying more than any other people in this planet," Ms Maathai told a press conference in Nairobi a day after winning the prize for her work in human rights and reversing deforestation across Africa.

"We invaded Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein had made, or was in the process of creating agents of biological warfare," said Ms Maathai.

"In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare," she added.

"Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious," Ms Maathai said.

Africa accounts for 25 million out of the estimated 38 million across the world infected with HIV, and the vast majority of infected Africans are women, according to UNAIDS estimates.

The United States on Friday congratulated Ms Maathai on winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but tempered its praise over her claims about AIDS.

"She said (HIV/AIDS) was invented as a bio-weapon in some laboratory in the West," a senior State Department official said.

"We don't agree with that."

The official pointed to a report of those comments published in August in Kenya's daily Standard newspaper, in which Ms Maathai was quoted as saying that HIV/AIDS was created by scientists for the purpose of mass extermination.

The Nobel Peace Prize has become little more than a platform to bludgeon the West, which is code for the US. Apart from the sheer sophistry of such an argument, the West would hardly need to invent an uncontrollable disease such as AIDS if they were bent on germ-warfare/genocide in Africa. Any number of containable biological agents would would be far more effective.

Maathai fails to mention that childhood and communicable diseases, long controlled or exterminated in the West, kills millions of Africans because of a lack of vaccinations, clean water or sanitation.

Did the West invent e-Coli? Hepatitis? Cholera? Typhoid? Malaria? Schistosomiasis? Ebola? West Nile?

I am sorry if this sounds callous or harsh, but in a world where an African heads the UN, which repeatedly ignores or participates in corruption, slavery and genocide, it seems a little disengenious to blame the "West" for the plight in which Africa now finds itself.

Maathai doesn't mention cultural issues that faciliated the spread of AIDS, such a male taboo or aversion to condom use. AIDS has been indentified as a communicable disease with known risks and means of transmission/prevention for more than a decade.

AIDS is also pandemic in Southeast Asia and Russia spread by poverty, the sex industry, an unscreened blood supply, a lack of prevention and IV drug use, not a plot hatched by racist Westerners.

Africans cannot hope to have the means to control endemic diseases or begin to address the root causes as long as their wealth is siphoned off or wasted by their political classes. Until educated Africans such as Maathai comes to grip with the massive corruption within their society and hold their leaders accountable, no amount of blame laid, aid or assistance from the West will cure the myriad of plagues, genocide and economic challenges Africa faces.

Given that Africa needs the West's medical expertise, drugs and financial aid, it seems very foolish to poke us in the eye with nonsensical conspiracies.

Posted by feste at October 10, 2004 11:17 AM | TrackBack

Isn't being an ingrate one of the 7 deadly sins or something?


Posted by: jaspar at October 10, 2004 06:36 PM

I dunno...but stupidity should be.

Posted by: feste at October 11, 2004 03:46 PM

And more to the point, why would "The West" bother?... Africa and Africans are doing a fine job destroying themselves.

Posted by: Michael Jaehrling at October 13, 2004 08:08 AM
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