What is the greatest evil foisted upon the world in the past forty years? Well, if not the world, then at least upon America? What creation of shadowy geniuses lurks, unsuspected but determined to undermine Western Civilization, weaken its foundations and collapse the edifice of the modern world? How might this huge task be accomplished? And do so by quietly bleeding the victim without raising fear, nay, without even arousing concern that anything is amiss?
How? Well, perhaps by inventing the Children's Television Workshop and raising generation after generation on the Sesame Street premise that learning and entertainment are synonymous. Fun and truth go together like birds of a feather. If it's hard, it can't be. Nothing difficult for you, or for me. Laughing, playing, skipping all day. Let's have a good time, whaddaya say?
Think not? Think again.
Of course some similar irresistible force must be at work all over the industrialized world. How else can one even begin to explain Mr. Robert Geldof's latest gift to the impoverished and starving of sub—Sahara Africa — the 'Live 8' series of concerts intent on influencing the leaders gathering at the conference in Scotland?
We're nearly a half—century down the road from the de—colonization of Africa. We're being serenaded into believing that all we need to solve the problem of African poverty, disease and starvation is a little debt relief and a little more aid. Well, actually, substantially more debt relief and hundreds of billions more in aid. This is the power of positive pop stars mobilizing the masses to meet the needs of those less fortunate. All the while the irony of socialists suggesting that we can solve the world's problems merely by throwing more and more and more money at them is lost upon both the performers and their adoring audiences.
The irony does not, however, go totally unappreciated. I don't know if either Mr. Mbeke or Mr. Mugabe were able to attend one of the performances. Considering their considerable contribution to the situation, it would seem that their presence would be mandatory if anything meaningful were to be done to combat poverty in Africa. But in any case, they must certainly have enjoyed Madonna's middle—finger gesturing as, I'm sure, it was not intended as a criticism of their policies and political philosophies. How could it be? Without Zimbabwe's increasingly successful efforts to starve to death the half of that country's population unfortunate enough to be tribally unrelated to Robert, there wouldn't even be a need for an Aid 8 concert — would there?
Such is what I would term the arrogance of ignorance. We, the First World, have money, food, medicines, leisure, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They, the Third World, have little if any of these things. As we were once their masters, this situation must be totally of our making and totally within our capacity to remedy. As they are victims, we are responsible. As they are victims, they are incapable of helping themselves. We are still their masters. Nay, we are their gods. They are at our mercy. We must feed and clothe and tend to their ills for they are our children. We have come full circle. Once we considered their care the White Man's burden. Now we are told by the Africans themselves as well as our very own grown Sesame Streeters that they are now the White Man's obligation.
Fair enough. Let's settle on a number. The number of billions, that is, that we and the rest of the industrialized world will spend on redeeming our African sins. The number of billions over a given number of years. No strings attached. No loans. Straight out cash contributions. When that's gone, the money stops. No questions asked. No further obligation.
Maybe it'll take another fifty years to get the job done. No problem. But, if after that time sub—Sahara Africa is still the same cesspool it is today, I say a century is long enough. Your time is up. You're grown up now. You're on your own. Time you realized life is not all fun.
Turn off the Telly. No more Sesame Street.