The Talking Lion

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Shameful Silence

It's easy to forget about the ongoing genocide in the Sudan. Thank God that Nicholas D. Kristof is around to remind me/us. Check out his Op/Ed in today's NYT here.

I assume that most of you reading this are at least vaguely familiar with the situation in Darfur. If not, you can get some background here.

Unfortunately, not much attention is paid to this terrible situation that has been ongoing for several months now. Maybe its because we just consider violence, oppressiona dn starvation to be the norm in Africa; some sort of inevitable fact of nature that will never be changed. Maybe its because it makes us feel terribly guilty to think about the kind of suffering that these people are going through compared to the lives of comfort we lead living in the US. Maybe its something else that completely eludes me.

Regardless, it's disappointing how little coverage the press has given to this issue. If it weren't for the fact that I spent the first four months of this year on a college campus and for the last few weeks I've been living in a house that gets the New York Times delivered to its doorstep every morning, I might not be aware of what's going on in the Sudan.

As Kristof notes in his piece, the president made a passing reference to the crisis on January 10th, but did not go so far as to condemn the situation. The interesting element to all of this is that a core part of the Presiden't base, evangelical Christians, are among the few who have spoken out about this issue (despite what some on the left would like the believe, the evangelical community is not merely devoted to keeping the teaching of evolution out of our public schools and oppressing gays, and on this issue seem to have more of a social conscience than the average liberal). But other than the evangelical community and the academic community, there is a shameful silence concerning the genocide in Darfur.

If the president has little at stake poltically, what is keeping him from speaking out on this issue? There doesn't really seem to be a good answer. As Kristof points out, the American people have shown a great amount of compassion with the amount of money given to the tsunami relief effort, helped in part by the President appointing his two predecessors to raise money for the victims (albeit after the administraion initially dragged its feet on the issue). All the president has to do is speak to the American people, let them know that there is a crisis going on and it is something they should be concerned about. There doesn't seem to be any good reason why the president should remain silent.

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