From the Washington Post:
NAIROBI, Kenya — A mob torched a church sheltering hundreds of people fleeing election violence Tuesday, killing up to 50 people _ including many children _ as four days of rioting and ethnic clashes marked one of the darkest times in Kenya’s history.
President Mwai Kibaki, sworn in Sunday after a vote opponents said was rigged, said political parties should meet immediately and publicly call for calm. The violence has killed at least 270 people in what had been east Africa’s most stable and prosperous democracy. The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, said he would refuse to meet.
Is it because it’s in Africa? Because they’re not Muslims? Because we don’t import oil from Kenya? Because nobody can make political hay from it? Why?
Scott Kirwin at The Razor has a round-up on the situation and lots of pictures.
I recognize that we’re completely absorbed by important things like whether Hillary Clinton understands Pakistan’s election schedule, whether any of the presidential aspirants are 100% truthful 100% of the time (I’ll save you time effort: they aren’t), and what the latest notoriously inaccurate polls are saying about the Iowa caucuses. But you’d think there’d be a little more interest.
Well, back to the Rose Bowl Game (or, as it’s known in this household, the SC game).
Matthew Yglesias’s take on the situation in Kenya is that it demonstrates how misguided majority-rule democracy is in places without a pre-existing consensus that supports it:
I can’t say anything about the situation in Kenya beyond what I read in the papers but it does speak in some ways to the misguided embrace of “democracy” as the key indicator for political development. The idea of an effective democracy presupposes the idea of a broad consensus about the legitimate decision-making unit. Viewed in those terms, the noteworthy thing about Kenya isn’t so much that there was a closely contested election marred by credible allegations of fraud followed by something of a popular uprising against the regime, but the fact that there’s such substantial support for the incumbent anyway:
Contrariwise, I think that those, like MY, who rejoice in the growing role of supra-national institutions are premature. The choices aren’t between a benevolent world government under which we all live in comity and feuding nation-states. It’s between rigid authoritarian control (wherever administered) and chaos. Chaos is just the sort of environment that guys with a grievance find conducive as staging and training areas.
At this stage of our species’s corporate development we need nations and, consequently, we need to foster the idea of nationhood right along with those of liberal government and democracy. None of these things are innate, they’re all learned. Hundreds of thousands of my countrymen died in the American Civil War deciding just these questions. I think it’s worth at least a little effort on our parts to foster these notions elsewhere peacefully and spare people in other countries the ordeal that we suffered.
Especially when the outcome, as in Kenya, is significantly less likely to be a sense of unity and common nationhood and a renewed commitment to liberal government and democracy.