“Africans, real people though we may be, are used as props in the West’s fantasy of itself,” writes Uzodinma Iweala in the Washington Post (hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily). “And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West’s prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.

“Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as having been ‘granted independence from their colonial masters,’ as opposed to having fought and shed blood for their freedom? Why do Angelina Jolie and Bono receive overwhelming attention for their work in Africa while Nwankwo Kanu or Dikembe Mutombo, Africans both, are hardly ever mentioned? How is it that a former mid-level U.S. diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan than do the numerous African Union countries that have sent food and troops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlement among all parties in that crisis?”

Because, conservative curmudgeons and bleeding hearts alike, it’s all about us. And about escaping from the ghastly mess we’ve made worse in the Middle East to the fantasy of a helpless continent that really will welcome us with flowers.