141 Days of Silence

[[image:20050531_DARFUR_162.jpg::right:0]]Nicolas Kristoff, another New York Times Op-Ed writer, has put together a really interesting piece on Darfur and our lack of awareness and action when it comes to what’s happening there. Click here to view the piece. I hope that anyone who watches this will take some time to learn about what’s going on there at the moment and maybe even write your “elected officials” about your interest in supporting these refugees. As followers of Jesus, we should be ashamed that we have a president who apparently feels no pressure from us in any way to address more seriously these kinds of atrocities around the globe. I guess when you’re desperate to institute “private accounts” in a new social security plan, who has time to actually see how we can become involved in helping more of these refugees who are getting gang raped and hacked to pieces? Silly me.


10 thoughts on “141 Days of Silence

  1. Although I agree most of the time in criticism of our president, according to a Time Magazine piece on the Janjaweed militia and the killing of refugees in Darfur, Bush is the first president with the balls to actually call these acts of genocide the word “genocide”. Of course he hasn’t done much else, but he now needs to be held accountable because now America and the U.N. need to act.

  2. it’s laughable that we should pat our president on the back for “having the balls” to call an event where thousands upon thousands are slaughtered a genocide. why is this praiseworthy in any way? just because he’s the only one saying it? defining the problem is really a waste of time. as women are gang raped and men are being systmatically slaughtered, maybe if we tell them our president has defined their persecution will make them feel so much better, right?

  3. From Time Magazine:

    More than 60 years ago, a Polish Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin fled Nazi-occupied Europe, arrived in the U.S. and invented a word that he thought would change the world. Lemkin believed that genocide– from the Greek geno (race or tribe) and the Latin cide (from caedere, killing)–would carry such stigma that states would be loath to commit the crime — or to allow it. Lemkin, a haunted refugee and relentless lobbyist, managed to construct a lasting norm, as Webster’s and the Oxford English Dictionary granted his coinage lexicographic admission. In 1948 he went door to door at the new United Nations and persuaded representatives to endorse the Genocide Convention, the U.N.’s first human rights treaty, which committed signatories to “undertake to prevent and to punish” the monstrous horror.

    Since the invention of the word, however, a long line of Presidents have gone out of their way to avoid using it. Jimmy Carter resisted branding the Khmer Rouge with the term. Ronald Reagan avoided applying it to Saddam Hussein. The first President Bush refused to apply it to the Bosnian Serbs. And Bill Clinton skirted the label for Bosnia and Rwanda. State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelly became the face of Clinton’s semantic wiggle when she tried to insist that, although hundreds of thousands of Rwandans had been butchered, only “acts” of genocide were occurring.

    Enter George W. Bush. At the U.N. last week, Bush spoke, unusually, of an ongoing “genocide” in Darfur, Sudan. The President was drawing on an investigation carried out by the State Department. When Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a formal finding of genocide to Congress on Sept. 9, he was doing something no senior U.S. official had done before. “When we reviewed the evidence,” Powell said, “we concluded — I concluded — that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring.”

    The Genocide Convention prohibits attempts to destroy “in whole or in part” national, ethnic or religious groups “as such.” Although Lemkin’s law grew directly out of the Holocaust, it did not define genocide as the attempted extermination of an entire group. Lemkin, who lost 49 members of his family, including his parents, to the Final Solution, knew that if extermination were the threshold for a response, action would inevitably come too late.

    The horrors in Darfur are just what Lemkin had in mind. Sudan’s government and its Janjaweed militias are systematically expelling Darfur’s non-Arab population, murdering tens of thousands and permitting widespread gang rape — to make what they say will be lighter-skinned babies and ensure that the non-Arab tribes will be too degraded to return to their homes.

    The U.S. use of the G word has done little more than set off a new round of bureaucratic shuffling. Some who recall the Holocaust and Rwanda don’t believe Darfur measures up. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he will appoint a commission to investigate the charges. European ministers, who have been reluctant even to acknowledge ethnic cleansing, are scrambling to draft legal briefs. The Arab League and Sudan have scoffed at the U.S. claim, charging Bush with having an anti-Islamic agenda. Meanwhile, the killings, rapes and torchings continue.

    Indeed, as Powell testified, “no new action is dictated by [the genocide] determination.” States can meet their obligations under the convention by simply “calling upon the competent organs of the United Nations” or taking action “they consider appropriate.” And what the major powers consider appropriate is tame. They have urged Khartoum to “disarm the Janjaweed,” knowing full well that Khartoum funded and armed the militia and continues to do so.

    [b]The only hope for peace is an international protection force. But so far, only Nigeria, Tanzania and Rwanda have offered troops, and the proposed force of 4,000 won’t deter attacks unless the soldiers are equipped and paid for by the major powers, are given a mandate to protect civilians and are eventually reinforced by 10,000 additional troops from other nations. [/b]Yet amid all the talk of oil embargoes, travel bans and asset freezes, no statesman — not Powell and not Annan — has attempted to rally the money, troops and political cooperation needed for such a force.

    Bush Administration officials seem to feel that, having used the G word, they have done their part. But the sin of past Presidents is not that they failed to use the word but that then, as now, they failed to stop the crime.

  4. Believe me, I in no way am saying that President Bush has done the right thing completely. I’m just saying that he has at least taken it further than past presidents have taken it when it comes to international problems involving genocide. I am probably one of the few Christians who actually liked Clinton, but Rwanda’s genocide (between Christian tribes, ironically) could have been lessened if Clinton would have gone before the U.N. and labeled it as such.

    Bush needs to go through the U.N. in order to do something about the situation. By labeling it genocide, he is telling the U.N. that this is a serious issue that needs to be taken care of by U.N. peacekeeping forces. By calling it a genocide, he is putting pressure on the leadership of the U.N. to actually do something. Again, Bush hasn’t completely gotten right, but he’s gone farther than other presidents have been willing to go.

  5. I would say he hasn’t gotten it right at all. Maybe Bush has gone farther on this then other presidents, but not farther then a dictionary. You are correct Adam, Bush needs to through the U.N., but he has not. Beside labeling and defining it by reading a script that an aide probably wrote, there is nothing to commend.

  6. I don’t care about what’s happened in the past. I don’t think those who are being persecuted care either. Of course we’ve had presidents that have failed in the same way. I feel this leaves Bush with the benefit of learning from past mistakes. Whether or not Rwanda was Genocide or not, it’s clear we failed those being persecuted there. When I hear Bush talk about spreading freedom and fighting a war on “terror” it sounds fine and dandy. But when he makes it clear that it’s ok to “pick his battles”, he needs to be held responsible for picking the WRONG damn battles.

    Also, I find this talk about the UN a little curious. He obviously didn’t need the UN’s permission to wage pre emptive war on Iraq for reasons not fully proven. So in light of this, and also in light of the fact that George loves Jesus, why does he need the permission of the UN to act directly in taking more action to help Darfur?

  7. To answer the last question: perhaps in order to learn from his past mistake of starting a war in Iraq without going through the proper channels, he should go through the proper channels this time?

    Look, I agree with you for the most part. More should be done. It’s very discouraging for this kind of genocide to continue to take place without America really even caring about what happens. We as Americans were too concerned about the O.J. trial in order to do something about Rwanda. We should do something now. What do you propose should be done? Not just President Bush, although obviously has the power to make something happen. What can you and I do to help the situation in Darfur?

  8. 1-We can discuss this topic more openly and try to do our part in marketing this problem to our apathetic country.
    2-We can send financial aid to organizations that are invloved in this stuggle on the front lines.
    3-We can write our elected officials and communicate our passion for this issue and let them know we are watching how they proceed.

    These are just three things we can do without even getting off of couch. If getting off the couch is an option, we can certainly look into volunteering our time to either at home or overseas.

    I really don’t think that if George Bush subverted the UN in order to help this crisis more directly that he would be in trouble with the UN or the rest of the outside world. If anything, it would help our nation’s image a bit. Right now, the “brand USA” isn’t so hot.

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