Wente Watch

Friday, August 18, 2006

"Changing the behaviour of African men is probably hopeless"

Margaret Wente has made many ugly remarks during her career as a columnist, but this is the one that finally angered me enough to start this blog.

If someone had said that of "white men", or even just "men", can anyone doubt that Wente herself would be the first one screaming about radical feminism? But change the skin color of the men, and misandrist remarks become fine with her. Her jeer has no basis in fact; Uganda's famous ABC campaign proved that the sexual behavior of Africans, both men and women, could and would change with a community-based program of education.

But to Margaret Wente, this doesn't matter. Facts contrary to her ideological worldview don't exist. She is a writer who sees the world through the prism of good guys and bad guys. The good guys are capitalists, the United States, and white people; the bad guys are activists, critics of the US, and people of color. With that blinker in mind, her columns often follow a predictable formula:
1) Find a social issue, preferably one dear to the heart of liberal-leaning activists;
2) Blame it on nonwhite people;
3) Claim that only through conservative solutions can the problem be solved.

Back in May she tried to blame the Darfur genocide on Jack Layton and George Clooney, claiming that only US troops could stop the genocide, and Layton, Clooney, and other leftists were staunchly opposed to that. Never mind that the US administration was also opposed to sending troops, going so far as to block legislation in Congress that would have forced it to act.

So on we go to AIDS. In Wente's mind, AIDS must be the fault of darker-skinned peoples and their leftist enablers in the West. In her Tuesday column, she blamed Canada's AIDS problem on immigration from Africa. Today, she waxes eloquent on South African President Thabo Mbeki's claim six years ago that HIV was not the root cause of AIDS: I sometimes wonder why the protesters don't denounce South African President Thabo Mbeki the way they denounce George W. Bush. She doesn't seem to have read her own newspaper:

[Stephen Lewis] savaged the South African government, which has been reluctant to state that the human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS, has been slow to offer drug treatment to the infected, and whose senior officials tout bizarre treatments..."It is the only country in Africa...whose government is still obtuse, dilatory and negligent about rolling out treatment. It is the only country in Africa whose government continues to propound theories...worthy of a lunatic fringe" Mr. Lewis said.

It is true that Mbeki has denied that HIV is the cause of AIDS. But it is also true that, under international pressure from AIDS activists (you know, those people Wente calls "madcap"), the South African president was forced to back down and approve what is now among the world's largest retroviral programs. We have not seen a similar concession from George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI, both of whom maintain firm opposition to the use of condoms and have pulled funding from programs to educate people about safe sex. In any case, Mbeki's opposition has no relevance outside his own land. What country now has the world's largest number of AIDS cases? Not South Africa, not anywhere in Africa, even, but India.

Wente recites the old canard that foreign aid to those corrupt darkies won't work, and that what African women need is education and microbicide. Exactly how the poorest countries on earth are supposed to pay for said education and microbicide without foreign aid she doesn't say. I suppose Santa Claus will provide the money. If he does, he might be accused of promoting feminism by Wente's ideological soulmates.

Wente tells Stephen Lewis to "take an Ativan". But guess who once wrote that "Those who compare AIDS to the Holocaust, in its scope and human devastation, are correct"? That's right - Wente, safe within the confines of a column accusing leftists of ignoring the disease. The Globe later had to apologize for the column under threat of a libel suit.

But no libel suit will come from the millions of people suffering and dying of AIDS around the world. No suit will come from the thousands of activists who have struggled to relieve their suffering. No one, apparently, cares to call out a spiteful, vindictive, ethnocentric columnist who uses a human catastrophe to score cheap political points on her ideological foes.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger toobusyliving, at August 18, 2006 9:29 p.m.  

  • Excellent. I plan to visit in future.

    By Blogger James Laxer, at August 19, 2006 8:38 a.m.  

  • Too bad you missed the earlier Wente piece: "The war against the car will never succeed".

    A sequel to her earlier columns: 12. 09.1823 - "Slavery will never be abolished", 18.04.1892 "Women will never get the vote", and of course the (date missing on crumbling newsprint): "Child labour: the foundation of a sound economy".

    One slight change - her pre-Second World War writings never fail to allude to the International Jew, and in recent decades she has shifted Semites.

    By Anonymous lagatta à Montréal, at August 22, 2006 1:52 p.m.  

  • This blog is long overdue. Did you catch this debunking of her July post on post-traumatic stress disorder? It's co-written by myself and American blogger Rivka from Respectful of Otters.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at August 22, 2006 3:26 p.m.  

  • I'm looking forward to reading more here. This particular column of hers also upset me enough to blog about it. Keep up the good work!

    By Blogger Matt, at August 22, 2006 6:45 p.m.  

  • Thanks for starting this! Her AIDS Conference coverage really disturbed me!

    By Blogger Kenn Chaplin (mail: kenngc at sympatico dot ca), at August 22, 2006 11:08 p.m.  

  • Yea, she makes some good points, especialy if she is upsetting some of the weeping left.

    By Blogger Steve, at August 23, 2006 5:43 p.m.  

  • Welcome to the blogosphere... and thanks for what you're doing!

    By Blogger Rob Cottingham, at August 24, 2006 2:12 a.m.  

  • You can tell by reading her columns that diseases like AIDS have never really affected her life in a direct, meaningful way.

    Her columns during the AIDS conference were actually embarrassing to read in what they gave away about her general empathy. I doubt that was the message she meant to send.

    No wonder she drives around town in a gigantic SUV - I imagine with tinted windows.

    By Blogger JH, at August 24, 2006 10:35 p.m.  

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