The poor will always be with you

In which the New York Times’s best liberal writer flirts with the idea of reviving Western imperialism after belatedly discovering that not everyone is inclined to behave like an upper middle class liberal New Yorker:

Two M.I.T. economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, found that the world’s poor typically spend about 2 percent of their income educating their children, and often larger percentages on alcohol and tobacco: 4 percent in rural Papua New Guinea, 6 percent in Indonesia, 8 percent in Mexico. The indigent also spend significant sums on soft drinks, prostitution and extravagant festivals.

Look, I don’t want to be an unctuous party-pooper. But I’ve seen too many children dying of malaria for want of a bed net that the father tells me is unaffordable, even as he spends larger sums on liquor. If we want Mr. Obamza’s children to get an education and sleep under a bed net — well, the simplest option is for their dad to spend fewer evenings in the bar.

Naturally, Kristof thinks the idea is to give – GIVE – women more control. How very white and neo-colonial of him to decide how Africans should live their lives. And, as PJ Tobia, who is not PJ O’Rourke, points out, they already have control, indeed, the African social system appears to be arranged so that women can keep their men happily occupied with doing nothing but drink while leaving them free to get the work done.

The best part about all of this is that these guys are able to sit around long enough to get drunk on a drink that has almost no alcohol content. For one thing, their wives know exactly where they are, whom they are with, and what they are doing, and don’t have a big problem with it. For another, as these men sit and drink, the village comes to them. Boys will make the rounds of each Chibuku bar, selling cigarettes. A village woman will arrive with pieces of meat on a skewer or hardboiled eggs with little baggies of salt and hot-pepper flakes on the side. Down the street someone may be roasting corn or making maize fritters. The whole community does their part so the drinking can continue uninterrupted.

In short, the drinkers of Africa have it made. Sure, they have no healthcare, the literacy rate is among the lowest in the world, and December through March is the “famine season,” but they can drink and hang with their friends pretty much all day. Also, the word “nag” doesn’t even exist in any of the more than two-dozen languages spoken in the region.

What rural African regions lack in material wealth, infrastructure, and modern conveniences, they more than make up for in drunken leisure time.

When you put it that way, it’s clear there are worse ways to spend your life. Raise your carton of Chibuku and drink to great grass hut matriarchy!

No sympathy

Given the present anti-father legal regime, why would any man feel any pity whatsoever for this clueless British mother who signed custody of her son away to her dead husband’s relatives?

Rebecca Jones signed legal papers written in Arabic and witnessed by her dead husband’s family – believing they were about an inheritance for her boy Adam. But instead the documents gave full custody to 77-year-old Mariam Al Madhaiki – who immediately swept the frightened child away from Rebecca and enrolled him in an Islamic school in Qatar. Last week, to Rebecca’s dismay, Sharia judges in the Middle East state THREW OUT her appeal to win him back after a seven-month battle – despite Adam sobbing in court: “I want my mother.”

The judges ruled she can see her son twice a week for just FOUR HOURS, supervised by cops in a room. Now the 43-year-old mum from Sheffield is going to the High Court to try to get justice over what she calls a “kidnap”.

“I was tricked into it. This is completely against the rights of my child and me as his mother,” she said.

So she lost custody of her son. Boo freaking hoo. Precisely how is that any worse than what happens every single day to men who are divorced by their wives, robbed of their children, and stripped of their assets? At least she had the option to NOT sign a contract she couldn’t read in a foreign country and she still gets to see him every week. Moreover, she doesn’t have to foot the bill for his expenses or the lifestyle of her in-laws either.

Notice the tone of the article. Newspapers don’t even bother to report on men losing their children because it happens so often and it is something that many journalists outright support. But if a mother loses custody of her child, then naturally it must be grounds for an international incident.

To be honest, I have zero sympathy for any Western woman who is foolish enough to get romantically involved with an Arab man these days regardless of how the relationship eventually implodes. The difference between Western and Middle Eastern legal and marital norms have been well known for at least two decades now, so there’s no excuse for claiming one didn’t know about them. And of course they all act charmingly modernized at first, it’s not as if anyone was ever likely to get a date riding around on a camel shrieking “death to the infidel!”