06 June 2007

Charlie Pierce Is A Wanker

A long time ago on a website far, far away, I took sportswriter Charlie Pierce to task for attacking Michael Jordan for no reason other than the fact that Charlie Pierce wanted to make a political point.

He's done it again. This time, his excuse for attacking Jordan is that LeBron James just gave the greatest performance in a NBA playoff game ever but, in April, had refused to sign an angry letter to the Chinese government protesting Chinese involvement in Darfur. This makes James like Jordan (in a bad way). The article is dumb, it stems from Pierce's conviction that what he does for a living is trivial, and that failing to agree with him politically is a moral failing. He doesn't mention that even having LeBron James send a letter to the Chinese government, even an angry letter, will have exactly no effect.

But let's think about Darfur for a moment. What's happening is inhuman and should be stopped, but what can we do. Our Rabbi is a Darfur activist. He has traveled there, he protests, he marches and he has put up a sign on the Temple. I'm sure that he would sign an angry letter to the Chinese government. We've donated some money to refugee relief and will probably donate some more. Nothing has changed.

The one thing that would change Darfur for the better would be for us to send in the troops, enforce a no-fly zone and carve off Darfur from Sudan. We're not going to do it. It's tempting to say that the one real cost of the Iraq has been that it has made it politically impossible to invade Iran or North Korea or even stage a humanitarian invasion in Darfur. But unfortunately I don't think we would have invaded in any event. In the end of the day, international humanitarianism is a null set meant to sooth our conscience rather than saved the afflicted.

11 comments:

Brit said...

Your title precisely fits the rhythm of a popular English football chant.

The crowd would sing it thus:

"Cheyaaar lee Pee-erce, is-a-wan kah, is-a-wan kah" (repeat ad nauseam).

Brit said...

God I love Youtube.

For example.

Brit said...

And also this.

(I am virtully on the floor with laughter posting these).

Harry Eagar said...

International humanitarianism almost eradicated guinea worm. Americans and Norwegians, not one of whom was ever at risk from guinea worm, did it for Muslims.

And we see how much gratitude that generated.

So I don't buy your general argument.

However, what I don't get is the handwringing over Darfur and silence about the Congo. 10 times as many have died in the Congo.

joe shropshire said...

Handwringing about Darfur and silence about the Congo is just what you would expect, if David's general argument is right. More so if you simply substitute the word 'vanity' for the word 'conscience.' The various wars in the Congo far predate Bush; if I recall correctly they're somewhat tied in with the Rwandan genocide, which reflects poorly on all the best people; and doing something about them would be hard, even if we didn't have troops in Iraq. Darfur looks like a little boutique war by comparison, a sub-Saharan Kosovo. It wouldn't be, of course. The same people who flowed into Iraq would flow there too, and the troops would be looking at another Somalia: combat under humanitarian rules of engagement. Then all the best people would get tired of it.

Mike Beversluis said...

Sports writers hate sports with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning suns.

Setting that aside, Mr. Pierce should lay off LeBron because Bono already saved Africa by having a chain letter dialog with other celebrities while guest-editing an issue of Vanity Fair.

pj said...

joe - Darfur predates Bush as well. Harry's question is a puzzler. Perhaps white(Muslim)-on-black violence is more abominable than black-on-black violence?

Ali said...

Going back to Pierce's comment about Kopechne\Kennedy, that was twisted completely out of context by Steyn.

I lost a lot of respect for him after that.

David said...

Ali: I've seen that defense, that in context Pierce was attacking/ridiculing Kennedy, but I don't buy it. At best, what Pierce is saying is that living with the dangling specter of having gotten away with manslaughter has forced Kennedy to engage in substantive legislation that would have helped Kopechne if she had lived to old age.

It is a remarkably tone-deaf statement and lets Kennedy off the hook. Plus, it's wrong: a man who names his hunting dog "Splash" is not haunted by the spector of Mary Jo Kopechne.

joe shropshire said...

pj: that kind of thinking wouldn't surprise me, but the Janjaweed aren't white, they're Arabic-speaking blacks.

Harry Eagar said...

'they're Arabic-speaking blacks'

So they think of themselves. It's doubtful there's much difference in ancestry among the various groups. They've been interbreeding since at least pharaonic times -- we have lots of evidence for that -- and no doubt much longer.

The 'purity' claims of the Arabs of Arabia are as absurd as any other. Tippu Tib, the last of the militarily powerful east African slavers, claimed descent from an Omani sheikhly family, but photographs of him show a man self-evidently Bantu.

Might have cost you your head to have said so to him, though.