Ask the average person on the street “Who is Charles Taylor?” and, more likely than not, they’ll say he’s a former basketball player, famous for his canvas shoes. For the record, that’s Chuck Taylor. Charles Taylor is the former president of Liberia, the man in charge of the Muammar Gaddafi financed National Patriotic Front, and a brutal mass murderer. In fact, he’s currently being held in The Hague, where he’s facing a war crimes trial. According to prosecutors, Taylor commanded a Sierra Leone organization called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which was involved with blood diamonds, human atrocities, and incursions into neighboring countries.
In short, he’s a terrorist thug, a torturer, and an all round awful guy.
According to testimony provided August 5th by supermodel Naomi Campbell; a small pouch of what she called “dirty looking stones” was given to her anonymously during a swanky 1997 dinner party at Nelson Mandela’s house. The model claimed she had no idea what the rocks were, or who they were from, until the next morning when she had breakfast with Mia Farrow. According to Campbell, Farrow claimed the stones were probably diamonds from Charles Taylor. They turned out to be blood diamonds that Charles Taylor had received in exchange for guns given to an unscrupulous band of Sierra Leone rebels.
Four days later, Farrow directly contradicted Campbell’s testimony, saying that Campbell came down to breakfast the next morning, displayed the pouch, and said that she’d been given a huge diamond by Charles Taylor. The actress was very clear that Campbell knew what the stones were and where they came from. Suddenly, the spotlight was taken off of the evil despot at the center of the trial, only to be placed squarely on a possible lie, told by a former supermodel.
If you’re confused as to why Mia Farrow and Naomi Campbell are hob-knobbing with Nelson Mandela and a Liberian dictator, don’t worry. What you’re feeling is normal. The point at which entertainment merges with world politics is a strange, disconcerting place. What should have been a story about a violent, third world killer has now been hijacked by a pair of Hollywood has-beens.
When E! News is reporting on trials at The Hague, and doing a better job of it than most major media outlets, you know you’ve wandered into a place you don’t want to be. For much of the world, the Campbell/Farrow battle royale will prove to be the real focus of this story. How incredibly sad that a contradiction between an ex-supermodel and Woody Allen’s ex-girlfriend is the only reason most people are aware of it.
Mention civil war, child soldiers, blood diamonds, beheadings, or mutilations, and people seem to tune out.
What’s that? A celebrity catfight at The Hague?
Now that’s news.
Robert Laurie is a Michigan-based conservative columnist and freelance writer. He also runs a daily political commentary blog at RobertLaurie.net.