In praise of Prendergast

After I wrote the Huffington Post piece on the John Prendergast-Mahmood Mamdani debate, I sort of felt like pro-Prendergast bloggers thought their man was under attack for no reason. It’s not that he always gets everything wrong, though–and that wasn’t the point of my article. For example, I like this CSM column on being a conscious electronics consumer so you don’t inadvertently contribute to conflict in the Congo.

Sure, it’s annoying to have it coauthored by a celebrity (Sheryl Crow) whose nine Grammies give her absolutely no special perspective on the situation. Sure, the link between rape–clearly chosen as a subject to gain attention–and the actual mining of these minerals is very ephemeral. (There’s no reason to think that being a more conscious electronics consumer will reduce the incidence of rapes in Congo.) And sure, the op-ed gives absolutely no context about the conflict–its provenance, its factions, etc.

What it does do is help highlight the fact that our lives are materially connected to the lives of people in the middle of wars. We are all part of the systems that contribute to inequality and conflict, and some of our daily decisions and consumption patterns may contribute to them without our even knowing.

You can’t hate on that.

If the next step is a campaign that says we can solve Congo’s war by making sure there’s a “No Conflict Mineral Certified” sticker on our iphones, well, then I’ll start to get suspicious.

3 thoughts on “In praise of Prendergast

  1. Mamdani: Teenage Activists of ‘Save Darfur’ – Child Soldiers of the West

    Once again, Mahmood Mamdani provoked a fervid debate among scholars, activists and other people concerned with politics in Africa. After his controversially discussed comments about Zimbabwe, Mamdani (in his book Saviors and Survivors) accuses the ‘Save Darfur’ campaign in the US to act as the ‘humanitarian face’ of the War on Terror. Read the comments of the Professor at the Columbia University in New York in response to my questions.

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