Saturday, January 21, 2006

What Is It Like to Be A Bat?

George B. N. Ayittey is an economist from Ghana who teaches at American University in Washington. He is one of those morally grotesque and numbingly mediocre figures that the American Right has the uncanny talent for digging up. Every full moon he is unleashed from the dank caves of the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation his rancid mouth awash with the latest racist pronouncement on Africa. I ran across the transcript below of an interview that PBS conducted with Ayittey right after the 2002 Al Qaeda attack on Mombasa:

RAY SUAREZ: For more [on Thursday's terrorist attacks], we go to Bruce Hoffman, the editor-in- chief of the scholarly journal "Studies in Conflict and Terrorism" and director of the Washington office of RAND, a research corporation; and George Ayittey, professor of economics at American University here in Washington. He is from Ghana.


RAY SUAREZ: Professor Ayittey, why, in your view, was Kenya an easy place to do this?

George AyitteyGEORGE AYITTEY: Well, Ray, let me say that this is the third time such an attack has occurred in Kenya. The first one was in November 1979 when the Norfolk Hotel was blown up by Islamic fundamentalist groups in retaliation against Kenya for allowing the Israelis to use Kenya as a staging area to rescue hostages in Entebbe, Uganda.

And the second was as Bruce mentioned, August 1998 when the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up, and this particular occurrence, but you see, what it says is that the level of security in Kenya has been very, very lax, and it has been a lot easier for terrorist organizations to penetrate.

As a matter of fact, this is very, very disturbing and it is very dangerous because we are talking about the penetration of very highly sophisticated shoulder-launched, heat-seeking missiles in an African country and it has the potential to destabilize the East African region. The reason why I'm saying this is because Kenya is a country which has been a bastion of stability in that particular region, it's surrounded by countries which have been torn by civil war; Sudan, for example, and also Somalia and we also have Rwanda and Burundi.

So it is a development and also strictly from the African point of view, it constitutes a rape of African hospitality, because see we are talking about some kind of religious imperialism in that particular region, because lest people forget, a good percentage in Islam are not indigenous to Africa, and there has been a clash between the Israelis and Arabs. A lot of Africans are very enraged and outraged by this particular incident because--

RAY SUAREZ: But in the particular case of Kenya, hadn't there been an indigenous Islamic presence for centuries along the coast?

GEORGE AYITTEY: Oh, yes, there have been.

RAY SUAREZ: Haven't Christians and Muslims lived side by side in Kenya?

Ayittey and SuarezGEORGE AYITTEY: Oh, yes, they have lived side by side, but at the same time, many Africans recognize that both Christianity and Islam are foreign religions and it is not something which should be imposed upon Africans by force, as has been happening and as is happening in Sudan, in Mauritania, in fact, where blacks are still being enslaved by Arabs.

So the way most Africans look at this is slightly different from the western perspective. And that is why I use the term abuse of African hospitality because Africans have always welcomed Arabs in the eastern part of East Africa, whereas, the Arabs, as far as black Africans are concerned, are no different from the Europeans. Both were colonizers; both were enslavers; whereas, the Europeans were running the West African slave trade, the Arabs were running the East African slave trade. More than two million -- twenty million Africans were shipped out of East Africa to Arabia.

And also let me point out that in August of 1998, after the bombing, twin bombings of the U.S. Embassies, there was no Arab aid to Kenya, for example, though the U.S. aid that was provided was somewhat criticized as being inadequate - no other Arab country condemned that attack or even provided humanitarian assistance to the victims.

(A Newshour with Jim Lehrer transcript, "Terrorist Attacks in Kenya," Nov. 29, 2002).


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your comment about my interview with Ray Suarez reeks of intellectual astigmatism and it is bereft of serious intellectual analysis. Desperate people who lack the facts to challenge a viewpoint resort to name-calling and ideological demagoguery.

Africa has been oppressed, exploited, enslaved and raped -- not just by the West -- but by Arabs and African leaders as well. If you cannot accept this, then you represent the OLD thinking, which had led Africa to our present quandary.

If you cannot admit of your own responsibility in causing a problem, then NOBODY can help you solve it. This is neither an ultra-right-wing conservative or leftist viewpoint but just plain common sense.

Another common sense principle is this: Before you write something critical about someone, do your own research about him or her and not just base your commentary on just one interview or article. You could have done a Google search on "George Ayittey." Did you?

Have a good day.

George Ayittey,
Washington, DC
March 19, 2006


1:46 AM  
Blogger Anawim said...

Dear Professor Ayittey,

So let me get this straight:

1. On the one hand, you charge that the blog post "reeks of intellectual astigmatism" and "name-calling." On the other hand, you refer to the writer(s) as "desperate people" and refer to her/his/their writing as "ideological demagoguery."

2. On the one hand, you argue that the blog post is "bereft of serious intellectual analysis" and refer to the writer(s) as lacking "the facts to challenge a viewpoint." On the other hand, you offer not one fact or argument defending your racist and Islamophobic claim that Arabs are not Africans and that Islam is a "foreign" religion in Africa. Why are the identities "Arab" and "Africans" mutually exclusive? Why is Islam a "foreign" religion to Africa?

3. On the one hand, you charge that the writer(s) of the blog post lack "the facts to challenge a viewpoint." On the other hand, you lied through your teeth to Ray Suarez when you claimed that "no other Arab country condemned that [1998 embassy] bombing." Fact: the Arab league condemned the attack; Fact: Tunisian President Zein al-Abidin Bin Ali condemned the attack; Fact: Morocco's King Hassan II condemned the attack; Fact: even the Moslem Brotherhood of Egypt condemned the attack!

3. On the one hand, you lecture the writer(s) on "the common sense principle" of Google searches. On the other hand, a simple google search could have availed to you the facts laid out above -- see here:

4. On the one hand, you charge the writer(s) with "OLD thiking, which had [sic] led Africa to our present quandary." On the other hand, your fantasy of a racially pure Africa and a presumably authentic African religion is a regurgitation of eugenicist and Nazi politics.

5. On the one hand, you charge the writer(s) with refusing to "accept" your allegation that "Africa has been oppressed, exploited, enslaved and raped -- not just by the West -- but by Arabs and African leaders as well." You continue: "If you cannot admit of your own responsibility in causing a problem, then NOBODY can help you solve it." On the other hand, you irresponsibly do not indicate where the writer(s) argued otherwise.

6. On the one hand, you wish that I would "have a good day." On the other hand, you have made that impossible with your racism, religious bigotry, and ignorant harangues.



11:06 PM  

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