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Constructive Debate on World Poverty ?
September 4, 2002 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Constructive Debate on World Poverty ? It's depressing that certain groups seem to think that the only way to get their message across is to jeer and heckle Colin Powell at the World Summit.
posted by daveg (40 comments total)

 
I might disagree with someone, but I will at least let them make a statement before I start shouting at them.
posted by daveg at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2002


They are wrong, of course.

They have NO way to get their message across.
posted by rushmc at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2002


Yeah, it is depressing, but most everyone cares more about the jeering and heckling of Powell taking place in the corridors of the White House.

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:52 PM on September 4, 2002


And the more that Powell is deliberately placed in situations where he gets to play surrogate Aunt Sally for his ostensible boss, the less likely he is to think it's worth staying around for long. And yeah, the summit was stitched up by Bush in absentia.
posted by riviera at 2:54 PM on September 4, 2002


I think they were right to heckle and jeer. They are angry and with good reason. The US government doesn't give a damn about the destruction of the environment. Why should the protestors give a damn about its spokesman?
posted by mokey at 2:58 PM on September 4, 2002


As opposed to what? When Powell is telling people 'America Cares' there's bound to be some disagreement. The Bush administration is a Kyoto pullout and a global warming denier. These people have no voice other than disruptive protest.

Even most of the US's allies aren't buying the rhetoric this time around:
Among U.S. allies only Australia pronounced the summit an "outstanding success." Others, wary of criticism at home, griped at the shortcomings of a 'lowest common denominator' deal.

"We go from summit to summit but our peoples go from abyss to abyss," Venezuela's Chavez said. "It seems to be a dialogue of the deaf."

The U.S. delegation at the final session reminded delegates that the 65-page plan was not legally binding -- Washington insists it cannot bind the American people to vague goals.

Annan said expectations had simply been too high. "We have to be careful not to expect conferences like this to produce miracles," he said. "This is just a beginning, but it's an important beginning."

All delegates remember that many of the promises made at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, staged amid great optimism after the end of the Cold War, have been broken.
posted by skallas at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2002


I think that one's sense of manners in these matters is probably pretty proportional to how many thousands (or millions) you've watched die from pollution, weather disasters, preventable diseases and unnecessary famine.

What's really more rude: yelling during a speech or standing aside and doing next to nothing while catastrophe strikes hundreds of millions of people around the world? You don't have to agree with them, but it's silly not to understand where their anger comes from.
posted by AlexSteffen at 3:01 PM on September 4, 2002


I don't like the idea of people interrupting and jeering anyone trying to say something, no matter how unpopular the thing being said. However, the world has heard paid close attention to the promises of responsibility to the environment, only to see those words followed by inaction. The troublemakers at Powell's speech weren't just some outta work protesters who snuck in - it was the delegates from other countries. It's clear they find no value in the words anymore, since they have so far been quite empty.

I just wish dubya had the spine to stand in the place he put Powell. Watching him deal with hecklers is like watching a cat trying to figure out a laser pointer: funny in its futility.
posted by holycola at 3:04 PM on September 4, 2002


I don't disagree with their cause and I'm not troubled by their manners, but there are many ways of protesting - I think that protests with a message are the most effective.

In 1930 Gandhi walked 240 to the sea in order to symbolically crystallize salt from sea water, to protest against the (British) law forbidding Indians from making salt.

If the protestors had managed to switch off the lights and then lit the hall with light from clockwork powered torches then that would have said something about their cause (renewable energy). As it was they drowned out Powell's condemnation of Mugabe's actions in Zimbabwe.
posted by daveg at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2002


daveg: In 1930 Gandhi walked 240 to the sea in order to symbolically crystallize salt from sea water, to protest against the (British) law forbidding Indians from making salt.

Wow, talk about your unbelievably high level of expectations. Gandhi is remembered and revered because he was so self-less, not because he was a good model for the average protester.

Daveg, did you bother reading more articles than just the BBC? Hundreds of people got together to build small statues of men, women, and children each labeled "Betrayed." There was much going on than just a few loud protesters. Also, you make the protesters sound like they set fire to the hall. In fact they were quickly removed by a more than adequete police force.
posted by skallas at 3:16 PM on September 4, 2002


I think the fact that these were the *delegates* protesting is also worth remembering - our foreign policy is so dispised that other nation's *diplomats* are jeering our representatives.
posted by AlexSteffen at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2002


The coverage of the protest justifies the heckling. In politics, being heard is more important than being polite.
posted by rcade at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2002


Skallas, does it not make sense to model one's actions upon those of a Great Man? Reach, grasp, heaven, etc... Gandhi is, in fact, the ideal model for protest by civil disobedience, and much of what he is revered for is his success (and philosophical self-consistency) as a protestor.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:27 PM on September 4, 2002


What's up with this, though? The heckling started when Secretary Powell criticized Zimbabwe for pursuing land reform policies that have pushed "millions of people to the brink of starvation." Were these delegates a group of supporters for the dictator running Zimbabwe? Or were they going to boo regardless of what Powell said?
posted by subgenius at 3:29 PM on September 4, 2002


Perhaps they weren't interested in hearing us point any fingers.
posted by AlexSteffen at 3:32 PM on September 4, 2002


Ha! Good one. Layers upon layers of delicious irony.

I think that, if the countries of the world don't like the job the US is doing in aiding them, we should just stop doing it. Every sovereign nation has the right to determine for themselves their course of action. We ought quit meddling in their internal affairs. We are all grownups here, after all. We will still trade with our commericial partners, but everything else? Stopped.

Simple, elegant, and effective.
posted by UncleFes at 3:42 PM on September 4, 2002


Kyoto, the World Criminal Court, the ABM treaty... is there a way for the US to make the rest of the world feel any more impotent and angry when it comes to dealing with us?

What horrifies me is the thought that a lot of foriegn governments may now be looking at 9/11 and wondering if there's any other way to get our attention.

Not that France is gonna attack or anything, but the Bush administration is nuts if they think the success of our international effort against terrorism isn't affected by the way we deal with other international issues.
posted by adameft at 3:54 PM on September 4, 2002


Not sure if the UK is an exception, but BBC, ITN, Sky, CNN have all focused on the heckling of Colin Powell, rather than the substance of the protest - both on TV coverage and on the web. To me, this is an ineffective protest - it's not whether I understand their message, I already knew what it was.

UncleFes: I don't think that aid is the issue - there seems to be a growing acceptance that mankind is on an unsustainable path and that something should be done about it. However, Western politicians (not just the US) can see that it would be electoral suicide to unilaterally take any sensible actions. It is the US's apparent aversion to united action that riles - after all if one nation destroys the earth it's just as destroyed for all the other nations.
posted by daveg at 3:59 PM on September 4, 2002


mr_roboto: Skallas, does it not make sense to model one's actions upon those of a Great Man?

Arguably, results come from both passive protest and aggressive protest. Neither being better than the other, but only depending on the circumstances makes one more approriate than the other. Imagine Ghandi during the American Revolution.

Anyway, I was really commenting on the fact that there were other protesters who did things in ways sensible westerners would appreciate and that the screaming delegates weren't the only voices of protest, but the ones that get talked about.
posted by skallas at 4:04 PM on September 4, 2002


Well, UncleFes, you're entitled to your opinion.

I take the opposite view: finite planet, exploding population, dwindling resources - we all need to work together, and it isn't charity for the US to be involved in this work, it's self-interest and common sense.
posted by AlexSteffen at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2002


Skallas, Gandhi would've been all over the Boston Tea Party, for what it's worth...
posted by mr_roboto at 4:17 PM on September 4, 2002


Aside: If a protest happened in a distant forest and was observed by no-one and went unreported, would it still be a protest ?
posted by daveg at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2002


yeah, i wouldn't make it about the US per se. it's about reducing world poverty after all and i don't know anyone who's against that! fwiw, the economist makes lemonade out of lemons (or bubble-and-squeak out of leftovers, as the case may be :)

also china and russia are signing the kyoto protocol btw. yeah, it's more of a political statement at this point, but it does send a message i think.
posted by kliuless at 4:24 PM on September 4, 2002


I take the opposite view: finite planet, exploding population, dwindling resources - we all need to work together, and it isn't charity for the US to be involved in this work, it's self-interest and common sense.

here, here.
posted by eddydamascene at 4:33 PM on September 4, 2002


A more balanced / accurate report from the World Summit.
posted by daveg at 4:39 PM on September 4, 2002


The whole thing looks like just another "international conference" where everyone slaps each other on the back when in fact nothing has changed. Oh yes, don't forget to blame America for everything that's ever gone wrong in the world.
posted by owillis at 5:11 PM on September 4, 2002


Kofi Annan: "Johannesburg is not the end of everything, it is a beginning". Umm, I thought the "beginning" was the Rio conference that took place ten years ago? Well, at least the delegates got to eat a lot of great, expensive food.

While I can certainly understand frustration with U.S. unilateralism and exeptionalism, it is somewhat revealing that Powell was booed when he made disparaging remarks about Mugabe's atrocious land distribution policies. Some people are so reactionary that they will support anyone they percieve the U.S. as against, no matter how much of a tyrant.
posted by Dr. Boom at 5:20 PM on September 4, 2002


The whole thing looks like just another "international conference" where everyone slaps each other on the back when in fact nothing has changed.

Well, no. But thanks for paying as much attention as the rest of the US media.
posted by riviera at 7:01 PM on September 4, 2002


God Bless America. It's disgusting that any American should be jeered, however compelling the reason.

The Bush administration are doing a fine job. I really respect the president and look up to him as my personal role model. His articulate speeches and humane character make him a great leader.

Also I think it's wrong to criticize those in power. We should respect them more. The poor and down-trodden are just bitter.

sigh. I just can't do it. It's all bullshit.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:12 PM on September 4, 2002


I was in Italy during the riots in Genoa when the summit was held there last summer. The riots, and police attrocities, were the only reason that the summit stayed in the news, and that the protesters issues received any press coverage. Bravo.
posted by tellmenow at 7:19 PM on September 4, 2002


It is somewhat revealing that Powell was booed when he made disparaging remarks about Mugabe's atrocious land distribution policies.


That’s disingenuous spin. Any heckling at that time would have come from African nations who are supportive of the Mugabe regime.

The protest that we are discussing here occurred after the Mugabe comments and the protestors quick to point out they were in no way endorsing Mugabe.
posted by furious_monkey at 7:46 PM on September 4, 2002


But thanks for paying as much attention as the rest of the US media.

The media will cover it, if there's a story.
posted by owillis at 8:31 PM on September 4, 2002


Someone has a one note range of late. Thinking about a talk show like your namesake's? The contribution to the common discourse would be about the same, believe me.
posted by y2karl at 8:41 PM on September 4, 2002


Someone has a one note range of late.
Yeah, you sure have been pretty one-note. Gonna follow me around to every damn thread? Get a life.
posted by owillis at 9:38 PM on September 4, 2002


The United States could give every protestor everything they asked for (at this particular moment), concede to every demand, and Colin would have still been heckled. The US has more money, and more weapons, than any other nation on earth right now. If we're rich, and anyone anywhere is poor, it is our fault. Simple as that. Doesn't even matter if a country has butchered thousands of it's own citizens, or starved millions - and refused aid that would feed them. The country will still feel the need to lecture the US, or will simply hoot like a street thug in the audience.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:11 PM on September 4, 2002


Midas's reaction is exactly what I fear is the common response to the theme-free protest. My understanding is that the protest was very specifically about the US's blocking of progress related to renewable energy targets. It wasn't about inequalities between North and South, aid, Iraq or anything else, it was about the fact that the US government is in the pocket of global oil companies and refuses to do anything that might reduce their profits.
posted by daveg at 3:24 AM on September 5, 2002


It is somewhat revealing that Powell was booed when he made disparaging remarks about Mugabe's atrocious land distribution policies.

That's disingenuous spin. Any heckling at that time would have come from African nations who are supportive of the Mugabe regime.


I refer you to the Guardian story (the Guardian not being known for its pro-U.S. spin):

Dissent filled the hall when Mr Powell criticised the government of Zimbabwe for exacerbating the food crisis in that country and pushing "millions of people to the brink of starvation".

The protest that we are discussing here occurred after the Mugabe comments and the protestors quick to point out they were in no way endorsing Mugabe.

No, the FPP referred to the jeering of Powell.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:29 AM on September 5, 2002


The United States could give every protestor everything they asked for (at this particular moment), concede to every demand, and Colin would have still been heckled. The US has more money, and more weapons, than any other nation on earth right now. If we're rich, and anyone anywhere is poor, it is our fault.

Are you saying there is no cause for any complaint against the U.S.? Spare me the theatrics.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:31 AM on September 5, 2002


If we're rich, and anyone anywhere is poor, it is our fault. Simple as that.

Sounds like a most convenient way to dodge responsibility for anything and everything while smugly pushing the blame onto everyone else. Truth is vastly more complex than this simple little equation of envy.
posted by rushmc at 3:32 PM on September 5, 2002


The media will cover it, if there's a story.

Hahahaha. No. Sadly, no. But still, no.
posted by riviera at 3:40 PM on September 5, 2002


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