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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Darfur the West Isn’t Recognizing as It Moralizes About the Region

Mahmood Mamdani, a Ugandan-born scholar at Columbia University and the author of “When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and Genocide in Rwanda,” is one of the most penetrating analysts of African affairs. In “Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror,” he has written a learned book that reintroduces history into the discussion of the Darfur crisis and questions the logic and even the good faith of those who seek to place it at the pinnacle of Africa’s recent troubles. It is a brief, he writes, “against those who substitute moral certainty for knowledge, and who feel virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance.”
Mr. Mamdani does not dismiss a record of atrocities in Darfur, where 300,000 have been killed and 2.5 million been made refugees, yet he opposes the label of genocide as a subjective judgment wielded for political reasons against a Sudanese government that is out of favor because of its history of Islamism and its suspected involvement in terror.


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