The repeated assertion by the current Nobel peace laureate that HIV was deliberately created in a Western biological warfare laboratory has deservedly attained notoriety. The brief wire service story reporting the comments is a reminder of the world of international dreams—or fantasies—from which such prizes and comments emerge:
- A basic issue: why give a peace prize to someone who’s apparently mostly known for planting lots of trees? Planting trees is a very good thing, but it’s no more closely connected to peace than any number of other things, selling lots of hamburgers for example. Why not give the prize to Ronald McDonald, who’s done so much to promote international commerce and unify world tastes? After all, the hamburger is a symbol of plenty and the emerging world society, while Hitler was a vegetarian and the Nazis were big into nature and running around in forests. The Norwegians should watch their step on this one, I think.
- The journalist asserts as simple fact that “the vast majority of infected Africans are women, according to UNAIDS estimates.” The assertion seemed bizarre, and a quick google search reveals that in sub-Saharan Africa there are thought to be 13.1 million women out of 23.1 million infected. That’s 57%, which is a lot but hardly a “vast majority.” The obvious error is an example of how journalists and others concerned with international “peace and justice” think about “women’s health issues,” and their tendency to treat African AIDS as mainly a symbolic issue. It’s All One Struggle—world peace, ecology, Africa, sexual freedom, the empowerment of victimized women, and what not else.