Teju Cole on Kony; Ta-Nehisi Coates on Trayvon Martin

Well, I just read 40 essays that basically concluded that Black people should get over racism, as that slavery thing happened a long time ago. Alternatively, one might advance another theory: white people could also take the opportunity to remove their heads from their butts every now and again. Just a thought.

Teju Cole wrote one of the most-buzzed-about books of the year, Open City, which has been sitting here waiting for me to read it for a couple months. Based on this beautifully reasoned and written piece in the The Atlantic on Kony, I’d say it’s time to crack that book open.

Also on the Atlantic is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Two Thoughts on Trayvon Martin.

I have nothing profound or deep or contrary to add, really. I’m pretty jazzed at how much more interesting The Atlantic has become in the last six months.

My only quibble with Teju Cole’s point is that whenever the self-determination argument comes up, it gives Americans an excuse to indulge their predilection towards isolationism. So, you didn’t treat we great white saviors with the love we deserved for caring, then fine. Manage on your own then. That’s not, most emphatically, what Cole is saying; he’s saying you have to spend more than 5 minutes trying to understand a place before you get to decide how to fix it. He’s not saying that we’re under no obligation. He’s saying the obligations are much, much greater than spending five minutes on something and moving on to the next news cycle, where Uganda will not be mentioned for another 20 years.

Get off your fanny and learn, really learn, about foreign policy, and try to influence it for the good of mankind, and not just your own national interest. Cosmopolitanism, indeed.

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