The day after Christmas the New York Times ran a reprehensible whitewash of Zimbabwe’s “land reform,” treating it as if it sprang from an idealistic concern for justice, albeit with some unfortunate practical problems. Tuesday we learned of one such “reformer” who explicitly calls for eliminating half his country’s population:

Eight years after Rwanda, the world may be witnessing another genocide on the African continent…. The government has only permitted half a million tons of maize into Zimbabwe, all of it distributed through the state-operated Grain Marketing Board, one of whose managers told The Times of London, “We only sell to Shona-speakers.” Reports of desperate hunger have been trickling out of Matabeleland for months. And Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF’s administrative secretary and senior bureaucrat, recently admitted that whittling down Zimbabwe’s population from its current twelve million is his government’s explicit plan. “We would be better off,” he said, “with only six million people … who support the liberation struggle. … We don’t want all these extra people.” [New Republic Online, 12/30/02]

Where land in Zimbabwe had been stolen by whites, a legitimate legal process would identify the specific parcels of stolen land, identify the specific victims, and determine the specific value they deserved in compensation. What is happening in that country now–what the Times identifies as “land reform”–is just theft by thugs who have seized government power.

Yet, altruism is behind it; the Times is right about that. Altruism says that people’s lives are not their own but belong to the community; in Zimbabwe the community has claimed those lives. Altruism demands human sacrifices–and human sacrifice is its inexorable result.

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