Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's Hard Out Here for a Cynic

I hate to be cynical. There is so much going on the world that makes it hard not to be. But they say if you scratch the surface of a cynic, underneath you find a disappointed idealist. So, in my disappointed idealism, when I think about the genocide in Darfur I can't help remembering Hip Hop artist Kanye West's words after Hurricane Katrina, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Is that too harsh? Or maybe it's more accurate to say that when black people are loosing their lives, the Decider in Chief is a little slow in deciding to act.

The Darfur tragedy also reminds me of one of the big reasons those who still defend the war in Iraq use to justify it. Saddam Hussein committed genocide on his own people. They always forget to finish that sentence. I'm sure what they mean to say is Saddam Hussein committed genocide on his own people who just happened to be living above the second largest oil reserves in the world. But I'm being disappointedly idealistic again. To be fair, Darfur is an issue that has brought together people from all over the political spectrum. It is described in this excerpt from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"This is as big a tent as I've ever worked under," said Chuck Thies, the Washington rally director. "As far left and far right, and fully stacked up the middle; Muslims, Jews, Christians, students, labor. It's a rare opportunity to work with such a group that's unified."

The Decider is also at least speaking out.

...after meeting Friday at the White House with eight representatives from the SaveDarfur Coalition, Bush said: "I want the Sudanese government to understand the United States of America is serious about solving this problem."

Bush said that the 7,000 African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur need to be augmented by NATO forces. He also praised those participating in this weekend's rallies: "For those of you going out to march for justice, you represent the best of our country. We believe every life is precious, every human being is important. And the signal you send to the world is a strong signal, and I welcome your participation."

The good thing about Darfur, if anything about it can be said to be good, is that so many people are speaking out and taking action. There were large demonstrations in Washington, DC this weekend. There was also a large demonstration against the Iraq war. With the Immigration protests also held this weekend, this country is starting to look like France occasionally does. Thankfully sans the burning cars and people getting hosed down by water canons.

Real hero of 'Hotel Rwanda', Paul Rusesabagina speaks at Darfur rally in DC, Saturday April 29, 2006.

But I can't mention Darfur without saying something about George Clooney and his efforts to bring attention to the tragedy. Not only him, but all the pampered celebrities who have used their fame to do more than tell us what's in fashion, what diet we need to go on to squeeze our ample American arses into those fashions, and what car to drive to be seen in them. Celebrities like Branjolina, Oprah, who did a moving and informative show which Clooney appeared on, and Don Cheadle. Also people in the media and politicians. One who has been speaking out for years is radio host and commentator Joe Madison.

Reverend Al Sharpton speaks at Darfur rally in DC, Saturday April 29, 2006.

Also this from Reuters second hand via Daily Kos, about five congressional Democrats arrested for protesting on the steps of the Sudan Embassy.

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - Five members of the U.S. Congress were arrested on Friday at a demonstration held at the Sudan embassy to protest atrocities in that country's Darfur region, congressional aides said.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, were Reps. Tom Lantos of California, James McGovern and John Olver of Massachusetts, James Moran of Virginia, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, aides to McGovern and Lantos said.

It is at least good to see that people are aware and are speaking out this time, which is a lot sooner than they did in the case of Rwanda. There are a few things to be optimistic about. And as hard as it is out here for a disappointed idealist, I'm sure it's a million times harder for those living through this tragedy.

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