Rotarians with Chains On?

by Quentin Wodon

It is not every day that The Economist magazine talks about Rotary International. Back in 2012, the magazine ran an article about polio and Rotary. So I thought you might be interested in their latest article. On May 23, 2015, the Economist ran an article entitled “Rotarians with Chains On.” The article compared Rotary (in a good way) to the motorcycle gangs that recently caused havoc in Waco, U.S.

The article noted that motorbike gangs in America have existed for 70+ year. Some 300 gangs exist today. Many are highly violent and involved in illegal drug and weapons trafficking. But some also run charity events and attend annual meetings, “like Rotarians” the article said. The article noted that some of the gangs have also expanded internationally.

John Hewko, General Secretary of Rotary International, wrote a letter to the magazine’s editors stating that “Rotarians … were disappointed to see the organisation’s good work reduced to a point of comparison to the motorcycle gangs responsible for the deadly shoot-out in Waco…. And, as The Economist has reported before, thanks to countless volunteer hours and $1.3 billion in contributions, Rotary members have played a leading role in the effort to eradicate polio. Nothing to do with Texan biker gangs.”

John’s letter was published in the June 6 issue of the magazine.

PS1 – the choice of the title of the article in The Economist was clearly not the best, even if the comparison was intriguing, and perhaps funny to some. Note that the picture in the article featured gang members with jackets that had yellow embroidery on their back, which from very far away could perhaps look almost like a wheel… What do you think?

PS2 – The article in The Economist is available here, just in case you want to check it out, and John’s letter is available here; if the links do not work for you, you should hopefully be able to access the article through your search engine.

2 thoughts on “Rotarians with Chains On?

  1. The comparison is unfortunate but regular readers of the Economist will know that tongue-in-cheek headlines are a tradition and will get nothing but a smile from “Rotarians with Chains On”.

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