Credit those who band togetherTo the Editor:
As a Black African student at MIT, I feel that Mr. Simson L. Garfinkel's article of March 22, 1985, should not pass without comment. It has become common knowledge that he has turned the opinion columns of The Tech into a forum for the propagation of sentiments some may consider racist. Many will agree with me that his articles of late, by and large, have been that of skewed objectivity and are fundamentally destitute of rationality.
Garfinkel states explicitly that the on-going tragedy in certain parts of Africa dwindles to insignificance in the face of the prospect of nuclear annihilation and should be treated as such. He feels that the threat of a nuclear strike on the United States by the Soviet Union necessitates that wealthy Americans turn a corked ear to the yells for rescue from the abyss of hunger and death by the "poor starving blacks in Africa" and begin to "think about issues like arms control and civil defense." While I agree thet these issues are of cardinal importance, it seems perfectly clear that Mr. Garfinkel lives under a shroud of paranoia and has allowed himself to drift like a helium-filled balloon in static air.
"What difference does it make if ten thousand or ten million Africans die of starvation in 1985 if our planet is destroyed by nuclear hellfire in 1990?"..."Before we can save the children, we must save the world." Garfinkel is probably ignorant of an ancient saying: charity begins at home. How does he expect to save the world when he cannot save even the children? If Garfinkel made any attempts at rational thinking before he put pen to paper, I must say he failed hopelessly.
In a world as cacophonous as the one Garfinkel and I happen to live in, it becomes a singular achievement when any two bodies agree on any issue at all, let alone people assembling themselves under one roof to incorporate their talents and concertedly fight for a decent moral cause. This is precisely what the popular musicians in the United Kingdom and the United States did when they produced songs to raise funds to ease human suffering in Ethiopia, and if Garfinkel does not see it fit to give them a pat on the shoulder, he should not vent his spleen on them. While I am in no position to make an assessment of individual motives, I think they have made a giant leap toward saving humans from ultimate disaster and have thus chalked a brilliant victory where powerful governments have faltered. It is Garfinkel's opinion that by so doing, these artists have obscured from Americans what he calls more pressing issues -- arms reduction talks in Geneva. What an abhorrent product of a human mind!
To Mr. Garfinkel, I must point out that the people he calls "poor starving blacks in Africa" and "another case of the Whiteman's Burden" are human beings with feelings identical to his own. They have the same capacity to yell out when in pain, and to giggle when affectionately tickled. A disaster is a disaster, be it Adolf Hitler smashing Jews, the Japanese slaughtering Americans at Pearl Harbor, or Americans dropping bombs on Japan, and it invariably draws concern from all corners of the world. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians perishing for reasons entirely divorced from considerations of industriousness or will to succeed is no exception and should be addressed as such. For reasons that transcend human comprehension, Mother Nature has dealt disastrous blows to the inhabitants of certain parts of Africa, and it is a credit to a fragmented world when once in a while bands of people with feeling come together to fight for an honorable end.
It is my sincerest desire that by the time Mr. Garfinkel comes to the end of this article, he would have begun to see things in brighter light. If he sticks to his opinions and continues to propagate them, I can do nothing but call him a dinosaur, and tell him his insensitivity and concept of whiteman superiority are entirely inappropriate in these modern times.
Kwame A. Efah '87->