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London Calling

This Magazine Staff

Yesterday afternoon, I spent three hours of my life opining on the CBC about the actions of the 200 or so “anarchists” who engaged in running street fights with police in Scotland. I was asked to respond to an interview clip from a Canadian activist named Hodge, who declared that the true violence was being perpetrated by our leaders and the governments of the western world, which, according to Hodge, are responsible for all of Africa’s problems, from famine to kleptocracy to AIDS.
Whatever. It was the usual bit of warmed over countercultural BS, and I gave the standard response, just doing my bit to feed the goat. But as the afternoon progressed, I got more and more annoyed. Why were we spending so much time discussing the actions of 300 people in Scotland? Why weren’t they interviewing someone from Engineers Without Borders, or Operation Eyesight, or IMPACS, or any of the dozens of NGOs doing amazing on-the-ground work in Africa and other parts of the world? What is it about the media cycle that it can be so easily hijacked? Isn’t the point of having public radio precisely to get away from this kind of sensationalist nonsense?
In light of what happened today in London, I’m more angry now about all the attention that got paid to those anarchists yesterday. I feel cheated, that I spent time and intellectual energy on something so frivolous as responding to the behaviour of 300 losers. There’s serious shit in the world, and there’s unserious shit. Why does it take mass murder to remind us of where the distinction lies? And why do we forget within days?
I am now taking bets on how long it will be before a member of the Liberal Party of Canada blames George Bush for the explosions.

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