Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The New New Colonialism

In the news the past week: 17 Europeans arrested in Chad for kidnapping 103 children. Seven have been freed, though ten remain in custody. They were members of Zoe's Ark, supposedly a charity organization to help orphans. The problem: the children they "helped" were not actually orphans.

I don't know about you but this to me smacks of a colonial mentality with overtones of cultural superiority but hidden behind the veneer of bleeding heart idealism. I can't really call it colonialism (that's a term reserved for 18th and 19th century expansion), or even new colonialism (that's a term reserved for multinational corporations). So I think I'll call it the "new new colonialism."

As I see it, it wasn't so much about "helping the children" as it was to help assuage the guilt of people in the European continent with their comfortable lifestyles. Rather than taking concrete steps to solve real problems, they extend token gestures to help one or two (or in this case, 103) out of several millions. All driven, perhaps, by stock photos of babies with bloated bellies too weak to stave off the flies from their eyelids.

This is not to say that the problems aren't real. They are. This is not to say that the people in the so-called Third World need help. They do. But it has to be done in a way that respects cultural identity and encourages self-reliance. It cannot be a unilateral action dictated by the "economically and culturally superior" party.

Then again, these misguided Europeans were probably just following the examples of their idols Madonna and Brangelina.