The Nuge on Africa

The fates have seen fit to bless us with a gift on this snowy March (new motto: “in like a lion, out like an asshole”) day. It’s an op-ed about Libya by Ted Nugent. And yes, it’s that Ted Nugent.

The scintillating intellect that gave us “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em… Lick ‘Em” thinks that the U.S. should stay out of Libya because: “Once we swat one of these African cockroaches or intervene in their civil war, where do we stop?”

The piece is full of slurs and stereotypes so offensive that we hesitate to call it “casual racism.” (Serious hobbyist racism, possibly? Considering-going-pro-but-not-willing-to-give-up-a-shot-at-the-racism-Olympics?) We’re honestly amazed that this got published.

Which brings us to a question (or two) for the Washington Times’s editorial board:

We note that your submission guidelines specify that contributions should not contain libelous or misleading material. Now, the Nuge is a regular contributor, not a freelancer, and therefore may be above such petty considerations as truth and whatnot, but perhaps you’d like to run your keen editorial eyes back over the following statements:

“Genocide is a way of life [in Africa].”

“There is no country in Africa that truly respects freedom or the rule of law.”

“AIDS is projected to kill as much as half the populations of some countries.”

Because here’s the thing, editors (and Nuge): There are more then 50 countries in Africa, with a total population of over 1 billion people. In the past 20 years, exactly 1 of these countries has experienced a clear case of genocide. Even if the contested case of Darfur is added to the tally, that’s a whopping 2 countries (Rwanda and Sudan for those of you playing along at home) comprising a population of approximately 50 million people. So 5% of Africa’s population lives in a country with a recent history of genocide. By way of comparison, guess what approximately 5% of America’s population does? Lives in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.  Would you say that being bitten by a celebrity’s chihuahua is a “way of life” in the United States?

And as for respecting freedom and the rule of law, we’re not sure what Nugent thinks those words mean – this is a man who describes the U.S. justice system as “a failed court system and the evil perpetrators of its insidious, engineered recidivism, virtually guaranteeing stacks of dead victims at the hands of released monsters, while the supreme black-robers go about their professionally protected little lives.” If, despite his apparently low opinion of justice in the U.S., he means that “Africa” doesn’t measure up to the American standard of respect for rule of law, we’ll just note that a recent index compiled by the World Justice Project showed Ghana scoring within 3 points of the United States on respect for fundamental rights (14 and 11 respectively on a scale of 1 (best) to 35 (worst)) and South Africa scoring within 1 point of the U.S. on access to justice (12 and 11).  Last we checked, both of those countries were in Africa.  So, uh, maybe dial back the self-righteous accusations?

Oh, and AIDS isn’t projected to kill half of anyone’s population. Perhaps your esteemed columnist has misinterpreted the frequently-cited statistic that approximately half of global AIDS deaths have occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Er, and you all know that Charles Taylor’s name is Charles, not Robert, right? Right?

And finally, exactly what policy prescriptions are we supposed to derive from this choice observation: “Africa is an international scab”?

Africa is an international scab and we should pick it? Africa is an international scab and we should wait for it to dry up and fall off? Africa is an international scab and we should be more careful shaving in the future? Help us out here.

Hattip to our friend TexasinAfrica, whose impressively restrained comment to the op-ed you should also check out.

Amanda and Kate


  1. On the other hand, he did correctly identify Libya as part of Africa, rather than the Middle East, so I guess some progress is being made.

  2. I am… I don't actually know…
    Wait, he actually said that and it got published?! The thing about the scab and the bit about genocide being a way of life?
    Don't people get yelled at and fired for this sort of behaviour?

  3. You are mistaken in presenting a strong, rational argument against Nugent's erroneous, racist rant. Small is the number of people who will be agreeing with Nugent and also open to considering different perspectives, facts and attitudes. But, keep fighting the good fight!

    Personally, I am not surprised by his remarks nor that they were published. Only, disappointed.

  4. Keep in mind this is the Washington Times, owned and controlled by the Unification Church and not considered important enough to read by anyone with two brain cells to rub together

  5. It's also worth noting that his arguments are logically inconsistent if you think about them for 10 seconds. He says we should not intervene and then later asks what message it will send to other tyrants if Gadhafi remains in power. Riiiiight…..

    He just did what my students do all the time: throw a bunch of shit (various arguments) at the wall and see what sticks.

  6. Wow. I can't believe the Washington Post actually printed that crap.

    I have not been reading many blogs lately and don't live in the US…..but today I decided to have a quick read of Aid watch and Wronging Rights – and on Aid Watch hear of some "socks for Japan" drive and now this Ted Nugent "article" (aka piece of ignorant, badly written drivel).

    It's sad/disappointing/disheartening/frustrating (take your pick!) to think that moronic ideas and moronic people are given a platform to reach such a wide audience.

    And – plus, are there no editors to check even the most basic things like names (Charles) are correct before publication??

    The comments section (esp the comment by the 'Sarah Palin supporter' following Texas in Africa) was pretty scary..!

  7. Hi Avamm,
    It's probably small consolation, but it's worth noting that it was the Washington Times, not the Washington Post.

  8. I completely agree with Ted Nugent. He does not have the spit and polish that the author of this blog possesses, but his comments are accurate and true.

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