Among certain sets of cynics, it’s oh-so-fashionable to label bleeding hearts and conscionable minds as victims of “the Peace Corps mentality.”
To actually care about, harp about or think about the suffering of those poor bastards in the Third World is sooo 15 minutes ago, if not a flagrant throwback to the early 1970s. You know, a time when some of our parents actually gave a shit about the hundreds of thousands of people massacred in Cambodia due, in part, to a little U.S. meddling here and there. So forgive them if they couldn’t care less about the prospect of 320,000 Africans dying in Darfur and near Sudan’s border with Chad.
But forget the “world-is-a-mess-anyway” cynics. What do Republicans think? Conservatives constantly remind us that President Bush at least got rid of one hell of a tyrant in Saddam Hussein, but the same impulse toward snuffing out injustices in Sudan seems awfully dim. Give them their due for Bush’s deposing a man like Saddam, who by all accounts is responsible for the deaths of between 150,000 and 340,000 of his own countrymen, plus 730,000 Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War. (But let’s not go into that, shall we, since we more or less supported Saddam during that conflict.) Still, if Republicans want to claim the mantle as arbiters of international justice, they should instead remind us that President Clinton’s worst act was not cheating on his wife and lying about it, but instead playing footsie with the United Nations in 1994 as 800,000 died in Rwanda. He said so.
In a culture that actively digests the horrors of the Holocaust on an annual basis, and where Anne Frank’s diary and Schindler’s List are practically required reading and viewing, you’d think that we’d be a whole lot more uncomfortable with the prospect of genocide than we at least pretend to be. So what if 320,000 die in the northeast of Africa? We’ve got a war on terror to fight!
To be fair, President Bush had the guts to broker a cease-fire in April between Sudan’s Arab militias in the north and the currently besieged African tribes in the south. To be fair, people of the developed world should have paid more attention to a Sudanese civil war that so far has claimed 2 million lives. And to be fair, it’s certainly good news that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell have booked travel plans to Darfur to bring attention to the current reign of terror people there are withstanding.
It’s a little too easy to say that we ought to be reading more about the hunger and plight of those in Darfur than the hunger and plight of an Olsen twin. If your blood ran cold during Schindler’s List or The Killing Fields, then you ought to be on the phone to your elected representative demanding that our government do more for the Africans in Sudan. It’s that simple, really. If you believe that worldwide poverty is one of the driving forces of international terrorism (on some level, it is), then you ought to be on the phone to your elected representative demanding that our government do more for the Africans in Sudan.
Need another reason to act out of self-interest? Well, nearby Chad does have a lot of oil. We don’t want that country to fall into anarchy, do we now?