Is Foley That Big A Deal?

U.S. Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida speaks at a press conference
U.S. Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida speaks at a press conference, along with Republican Vito Fossella of New Jersey (not shown), about the recent purchase of the Port of Miami on Februrary 21, 2006 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images/Richard Patterson

CBS News Sunday Morning contributor Ben Stein wishes the media would spend as much attention on genocide in Africa as it has on the Mark Foley page scandal.

Naturally, like every other American parent, I am troubled indeed by the revelations about Mark Foley sending sexually explicit e-mails to teenage Congressional pages.

But I am stunned about the amount of attention the subject is getting in the national media. It's 24/7 on all the cable news stations, all over major front pages, and leading the network news. I agree it's a big story, but let's put it in perspective:

There's a war on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Something roughly like of 1,200 civilians each day are being raped and or murdered or dying of disease or hunger in that war. Millions have died, and very rarely does anyone in the media mention it.

In Darfur, Sudan, there is an ongoing genocide, taking thousands of lives every day, while the world does nothing, and I mean nothing.

The security situation in Afghanistan, which we thought we had conquered a few years ago, is collapsing. Half of the country is enemy infested. Our commanders there are begging–yes, begging–for more troops, planes, and helicopters, and their pleas are going unanswered. The Taliban, which sheltered Osama bin Laden, is resurgent all over the nation. If we lose there–and we are losing — Osama bin Laden has beaten us — again.

If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, Pakistan will likely fall to the Islamic fanatics in that country. This would be a catastrophe indeed, since Pakistan has a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. But nowhere is this gathering disaster mentioned except on egghead shows.

Call me crazy. But while e-mails about gay sex to a minor are important if they come from a Congressman, aren't 1,200 lives a day in Africa important? They're just as important as you and I are. Isn't the likely victory of a terrorist movement in Afghanistan and the possible emergence of a fanatic-led nuclear Pakistan important?

The Foley story is a big story, but in the interest of pursuing a sex scandal we are ignoring matters of life and death for the whole planet. Countries that don't know what is life threatening and what is not do not last. I am sorry to say, that's us.
Commentary By Ben Stein