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Postmortem: Mamdani vs. Prendergast (Mamdani/Prendergast vs. Save Darfur?)

April 15, 2009

Rebekah Heacock at JACKFRUITY liveblogged last night’s debate between Mahmood Mamdani and John Prendergast, which apparently did not end as she had hoped — in hair-pulling and the shouting of epithets. Ms. Heacock provides a fantastically entertaining account of the debate that’s worth reading in its entirety, but here are just a few nuggets of goodness.

Considering implementing a CNN-presidential-debate-style arbitrary point system. +4 for Prendergast’s hair! +3 for Mamdani’s sweater!

Prendergast opens by confessing to eating Easter candy on the way to NY in the hopes that it will make him “sweet” to Mamdani

Prendergast: “I’ve learned from his [Mamdani’s] writings that I am a neocon controlled by the Jews.”   I give it five minutes before the hair-pulling starts.

Prendergast pulls the “what if my daughter were raped?” card.   -1

From the audience: “it’s kind of fucked up that Prendergast is pretending to be a Darfurian refugee”

Prendergast: “I believe, but wouldn’t fall on my sword for it” that genocide is taking place in Darfur.   Way to hedge your bets, John: -2

Prendergast just used “Janjaweed” and “KKK” in the same sentence.   TWICE.

Mamdani decides to give his opening talk while standing and saying, “I don’t think I did any research on John” before the debate.   +2 for audacity

Mamdani: Death rate in Darfur has declined dramatically: fewer than 135 people per month last year, “but you would not know this if you listened to Save Darfur…I hope that John is not surprised by these figures” +2

Prendergast met with Obama “in the West Wing” a week and a half ago to talk about Sudan.   +1 for coolness factor, -0.5 for showing off

Prendergast also met with Sarkozy’s chief advisor on Africa, with China’s ambassador to UN.   From the audience, sotto voce: “to do what?”

Prendergast: We won’t ever know true death count, it will “be washed away in the sands of the Sahara.”   -2 for inappropriate poetic detour; numbers actually do matter here

Mamdani hopes Save Darfur becomes “more informed, less bellicose and more political”

Prendergast on Save Darfur: “for quite some time now, the activists have been focused on…a much more effective political response” from the US government

Mamdani: “faith packets” were passed out at first Save Darfur rally in NYC.   Christian ones said Lord had empowered them to protect.   Jewish one said Lord had made them particularly sensitive to injustice.   Muslim one said Lord had made them good at identifying perpetrators of genocide.   -10 for WTF?

Mamdani: high school activists are “Save Darfur’s version of child soldiers”   umm, -2.5 for being unnecessarily crass, but +5 because Invisible Children is currently urging high schoolers to abduct themselves to raise awareness of conflict in northern Uganda

Prendergast: in last year or so “we’ve tried to put a little more adult supervision into this movement.”   -2 for condescension toward youth; adult celeb activists are just as (and sometimes more) misinformed as impassioned teens

Taking back that -2 (Prendergast: “just Google George Clooney and his army of high school soldiers” to see that focus is on peace in Sudan)

Doesn’t look like there’s much love lost between M2 and JP. Hopefully the good folks at Columbia will make the full content of this event available so that we can take a closer look at EXACTLY what the two combatants threw at one another. Until then, thanks much to Ms. Heacock!

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