a company which makes money by taking the prestige of the New York Times and
selling it to corrupt third-world governments, has outdone itself today with
a "Special Advertising Section" on Sudan in the New York Times, featuring
second vice president Ali Othman Taha on the cover. "We have approached
the formation of the united government in a spirit of cooperation and partnership,"
he says in a big pull-quote.
Stefan Geens points
me to Summit’s website, which features
a long video interview with Taha, complete with sycophantic and extremely softball
questions. The interviewer, Racquel Picornell, tells us at the beginning that
she’s going to ask him about "the economic development that will ensure
a very rosy economic outlook", and that we will hear "the words of
one of the makers of its history, a history that will lead Sudan into a new
Taha does not disappoint: "I feel honored to be what God has bestowed
upon me: to be one of the peacemakers in Sudan," he says.
Taha is not a peacemaker. Quite the opposite: he comes in fact very near the
top of the list of living genocides. As vice-president of Sudan (a post he still
holds, under the presidency of Omar al-Bashir, the strongman who came to power
in a military coup in 1989), Taha was the primary architect of the genocide
in Darfur. In a nutshell, Taha and the Arab militias have been slaughtering
black Sudanese in the western Darfur region of the country.
On Friday, the US State Department put out a press
release in which Nancy Pelosi and George Bush both agreed that there is
genocide going on in Darfur. The release comes in the wake of Pelosi’s visit
to Sudan, during which Taha admitted to her group that his government has supported
the genocidal militias.
Recently, Taha’s genocide has started spilling across the border and into Chad,
a development the New York Times abhors
in its leader today.
And yet the New York Times is happy to take the Sudanese government’s money
and run an eight-page advertisement for the country.
Would the New York Times run an advertorial extolling the charitable works
of Osama bin Laden? Would it run advertisements from Nambla, or from the Ku
Klux Klan? Taha is an evil man, a genocidal war criminal who has caused suffering
on an almost unimaginable scale. What he wants now is a modicum of international
respectability – and who better to give it to him than the New York Times.
So the Times takes Taha’s blood-soaked dollars and happily funnels them to its
shareholders, even as its very own Nick Kristof files heartbreaking dispatches
from Darfur. Here’s Kristof from his latest column:
Elie Wiesel once said, referring to victims of genocide: "Let us remember:
what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence
of the bystander." And it’s our own silence that I find inexplicable.
The only thing worse than silence, of course, is outright complicity. I would
love to know what Nick Kristof thought of his employer when he picked up the
paper this morning.