Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Sorry Africa"

for Tony Bird

It has been a long, long time since I have seen Tony Bird, who visited the stage of Phillips Exeter Academy when I was a student there, but his lyricism haunts to me today, as President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from funding the World Health Organization (WHO).

"The widespread evictions and mistreatment of African migrants in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has caused a serious rupture in China-Africa relations. Chinese ambassadors across Africa have been called into various foreign ministries to explain why so many of their nationals in Guangzhou have been visibly mistreated by authorities and rendered homeless by the evictions from their homes and hotels." (The China Africa Project) You may want to have a listen to the following if you want to see a constructive resolution to this problem.

Meanwhile, in the United States, racism against people of Chinese origin and, based on appearance, against all East Asian people, is on full display. Historically, black, brown, and red communities in the United States have had negative saving rates (i.e., large amounts of credit card debt) and virtually no wealth, outside of often second-rate lands held in trust by the tribes and Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. This is a problem that Dr. Fauci and others have been clear can no longer be ignored or shoved under the rug.

The strategic and humanitarian blunder of this temporary, and possibly long-term, denial of funding to the World Health Organization by the United States government will crush the developing world, destroying its chances of procuring needed supplies...unless China, in its push for soft power in the global South (or because it is a humanitarian regime?), steps in. Trump has invited that solution, which will virtually eliminate the United States reputation as a force for good in the world.

The WHO is certainly not beyond reproach, but how will the world get Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, etc. test kits and personal protective equipment without the full-funding and assistance of the WHO? It will be a patchwork response like we have seen in the United States, because of the failure of the disorganized federal government led by a heartless, merciless egomaniac. The small states, that don't get to band together with CA, OR, and WA, such as Idaho and Burkina Faso, may well go without or see poorly implemented "back-to-work" efforts that lead to more deaths.

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