Yesterday Rwanda, Today Darfur
Originally posted 6/11/05 at Ma'at's Feather
The First World(TM) murmur over the ongoing genocide in Darfur stuns me. I know there is a lot going on in the world, but at what point does systematic extermination of a people begin to demand some SERIOUS hollering from us so-called generous caring Americans? The roots of the current genocide go back to at least 2000, yet here we are in 2005 and it's getting no better. The extermination of Black Africans in Darfur and Southen Sudan continues to be a blip on our national consciousness. Our collective discussion about it? An intermittent whisper, and not a roar.
The racial cynicist in me understands it intellectually: Black folk. Dead Black folk. Murdered Black folk. This narrative doesn't get much media play here in the US when it happens here every day (unless it both evokes and reinforces neat, racist stereotypes of Black dysfunction). So there is no rational reason to expect any different apathy when we're talking about Black folks more than 10,000 miles away, who most Black Americans don't appear to feel any meaningful solidarity with.
I'm not sure which troubles me more - the willful lack of caring of the political right, who I truly don't expect to give a damn about human suffering no matter how much they claim to be Christian Soldiers fighting for Life (TM) or the equally bad shrug of silence from most of the political left. Whatever the case, both approaches result in more people dying.
So, perhaps the eloquence of living and dying history, written today in the LA Times by a journalist who spent a week in 1994's Rwandan hell, will shake enough people awake to *do* something meaningful -- and I'm not talking about sending in "peacekeeping forces" with no ability to actually do anything but watch -- before Darfur makes the genocide of nearly a million people in Rwanda look like just a trial run:
There is Evil
No similar, human, stories have yet come out of Darfur - but if the experience described in today's LA Times shares any parallels, we can only imagine what it must be like. Maybe if George Romero made a film about it we'd get the picture.
I'm not a big believer in slogans when people are dying, but here's one we should all be able to get behind:
Darfur: A Genocide We Can Stop.
Open your hearts. Open your wallets. Save lives. No Blood for Oil, or whatever else political activists need to chant to get truly fired up. For those who are truly not in-the-know, there is reportedly a lot of oil in southern Sudan. Folks like Amnesty International have made a pretty compelling case that this is the major reason why nobody with the power to put a rapid end to the human suffering seems to really mind what is happening in the Southern Sudan:
Sudan: The Human Price for Oil
Whatever the reasons, the Powers that Be(TM) starting with the Sudanese government itself and ending up in the First World (TM) fiddle away while the Janjaweed - Arab mercenaries - systematically exterminate and displace the entirety of the native Black African tribes, most of whom are agrarian and live a way that hard-core oil exploration simply finds inconvenient for its robustness.
The LA Times article linked above has a quote from Elie Wiesel that resonates with me, so it's today's money quote:
...[T]he role of the journalist is to speak for those who have no voice.
I'm no journalist, but I'm speaking anyway.
(Finally, because I believe in props for doing the right thing, a sincere thanks to my alma mater for this week divesting itself of its direct investments in the companies involved in Sudanese oil production: Stanford's Sudan Divestment.)