What NPR Won’t Let You Say About South Sudan

South Sudanese are “warring tribes of superstitious yahoos”. We need to send more American Peace Corps volunteers to “teach them about such things as public sanitation, proper nutrition…and birth control.” South Sudan’s problems are a result of “Muslim hegemony.”

These are the NPR-allowed comments underneath the article “Nothing Is Going Right In The World’s Newest Nation”.

Just don’t say anything about the pitying-patronizing tone of Western journalism towards South Sudan or its addiction to “conflict and poverty” porn.

Just like Mad Max at the Oscars, Right?

Don’t challenge the article’s assertion that “South Sudan needs a definitive end to its civil conflict before it can solve any of its other problems.” Certainly don’t mention that trade between communities could help create peace.

Don’t bring up the successes of South Sudanese challenging this “helpless victim” narrative — such as the farming cooperative that sent South Sudan’s first export to the USA, the cooperative that built the country’s first maize-grinding mill, or the women who showcase their art at fashion shows in LA and New York.

Don’t mention that South Sudan’s conflict has “start” and “end” points outside the cramped boundaries drawn by foreign observers. So don’t mention a hostile geography and climate (good for diseases, hard on mammals), violent collisions with other civilizations (neighboring tribes, the Egyptian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, then the British Empire), or the mixed results of post-colonial foreign intervention of aid, armed forces and diplomacy.

And whatever you do, don’t try to change this status quo.

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