An article in The Washington Post got Mohammed Ademo heated up. Ademo is the cofounder and editor of the Oromo citizen news website Opride.com, a recent Columbia j-school grad and an occasional email penpal of mine. When he read the Post's piece on the leave of absence of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's long-reigning prime minister, he was aghast. Here's five reasons why, from his Facebook page (reprinted w/ permission):
1) "When the minority Ethiopian Muslims started calling for greater religious freedoms, Christians began to quiver" – is this fact? Fiction? Op-ed? Quiver with fear?
2) "Ethiopia's economic growth was driven largely by foreign investment in agriculture" – a good journalist would mention for a casual reader's sake that there has been rampant land grab in Ethiopia and forced displacement of millions.
3) "As surrounding nations churn through political and social tumult, Ethiopia has been among the most stable" - how many wars should Ethiopia fight for it to deemed unstable? Insurgency in Oromia, Ogaden, Afar, Gambela, etc.
4) "Under Meles' rule, religious and press freedoms have been slowly expanded, and a multi-party parliament has been established." I can't even comment on that one.
5) "Meles is seen as stable partner in a region peppered with despots and religious extremists" - is he one of the despots? Who are these extremists? Maybe it is just me.
The logic of the Post's article makes perfect sense, if you walk around the world dividing into American allies and enemies in the no-longer-so-named war on terror. But as Ademo points out, that's about the only narrative logic by which it makes sense, and it misses a lot.
The Post's logic also makes the article a reflection of American interests, which is to say, it's at least as much about America as it is about Ethiopia. I've made that point loud enough of late, but let's give the Post a special postscript: If you're a reader of the daily Bible of the Beltway, the one paper every Congressperson and her staffer (hell, maybe even her interns) is going to read (or at least skim), don't you want to be reading something that's going to give you a perspective you can't get by chatting up the guy behind you during your obscenely long wait for a milkshake at Good Stuff?