Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Starvation, Poverty, and Perceptions

Norman Borlaug received a Congressional Gold Medal yesterday.

If you can't remember reading that name before, don't feel bad. Norman Borlaug hasn't been in the press as much as great thinkers like the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cindy Sheehan.

All Norman Borlaug did was help start the Green Revolution, and devote his life to making sustainable agriculture available to people who didn't live on Catalina Island or in Kennebunkport.

I debated whether to post this in a 'War on Terror' blog, but decided that there is a connection.

I've posted before (Doctors, Terrorists, and the Proletariat: What's a Person to Think?) on how many people find the jihad against the west hard to understand. In my opinion, that's because we're involved in a conflict that is based on neither the colonial disputes nor the class struggles that plagued the 19th and 20th centuries.

Another blog, Greatest Living American Ignored, discusses Norman Borlaug in a very positive way. Even so, the blog itself and to a greater extent some of the comments show a world view that Guevara and Marx would have found fairly familiar.

I'd like you to read the blog yourself. Here are excerpts from two of the comments. Emphasis is mine.
"No American wants to see fewer people in the world. That would be bad for business. You can't have that. The Pope< just criticized Europeans for not having enough babies. So I guess God wants more and more people even if they die of hunger or disease or heat protration [sic] or malaria. Whatever. Anyway that is why Borlaug didn't get any press coverage."

"Greatest living American? For fighting world hunger with biotech foods that don't re-seed so that poor populations around the world are dependent on Monsanto, the venerable corporation that brought us Agent Orange?"
The first comment has the virtue of recognizing that religious beliefs are important, although maintaining the traditional view that religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, is a malignant force.

Both seem to me to be moderately good examples of a world view that insists on forcing issues and events into one of two categories: the oppression of indigenous populations by intolerant, expansionistic, imperialistic, racist European powers; or the oppression of the working class by the plutocratic, capitalistic, property-owning class.

My view is that jihad conducted by some (certainly not all) devout Muslims is exactly what they say it is: an armed effort to wipe from the face of the earth something which they believe is offensive to their god.

I doubt that the conflict between the open, free society that people enjoy here in the States and the nascent world caliphate represented by one part of the Islamic world can be understood without assuming that the motives of the jihadists are religious.

Finally: something in the news about the father of the Green Revolution: Scientist Norman Borlaug Receives Congressional Gold Medal for Food Research.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.