"Stereotype Porn"

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William Easterly is upset that, according to the Huffington Post, aid groups "canvassed the Akobo community [in South Sudan]...searching for the hungriest children" during or prior to a photographer's visit:

An equivalent procedure would represent New Yorkers by the most horrific images possible of the homeless. But we don’t do that because we don’t have the stereotype that typical New Yorkers are homeless.

Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal have seen this before:

The truth is that, even in the areas of the country stricken by famine, outright starvation is the exception. Most deaths are the result of disease. The great majority of people will survive-largely due to their own efforts. International food aid is much less important than food grown by local farmers, the maintenance of animal herds, having roots and berries to eat and charity of relatives and friends.

The most respectable excuse for selectively presenting images of starvation is that this is necessary to elicit our charity. But famine relief experts concur that the total impact of our charitable giving is less than what can be achieved if the stricken people are enabled to help themselves.

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