Genocide and mass murder have become topics relegated to academics and people whose ancestors were victims of these crimes. It is no wonder that most Americans have little knowledge of the events taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan.
It is not widely known that the Sudanese government is sponsoring Arab militias called ‘Janjaweed,’ who target Sudanese farmers because of their dark complexion.
Nor does most of the public have any idea that the international community has done little in response, despite assurances after previous genocides that such events will be prevented.
Most Americans probably could not point out Sudan on a map.
I don’t hold them accountable for their ignorance, as the only real information published on the topic is tucked away in Sunday Op-Ed sections.
I don’t blame people for having little interest in events that they do not understand. I have never seen someone murdered with my own eyes; it is difficult to fathom how it would affect me. Furthermore, I don’t know anyone from Darfur, and I probably never will.
I cannot preach to anyone about inaction, because I have done nothing about this tragedy.
I haven’t written to politicians, donated funds to Public Action Committees or attended demonstrations. But I can change my mind very, very easily.
It is unfortunate that people think letters, money and yelling are the only methods for effectively influencing policy. There is nothing wrong with any of these, and they should certainly be continued. But how many people, at this university and others, attend rock concerts? How many students are in bands?
How many professors teach courses in which they lecture to hundreds? How many of these professors teach anthropology, history, psychology and law, where genocide and politics are highly relevant?
How many journalism majors write for collegiate newspapers that are not only distributed among thousands, but uploaded to the Internet?
Simply telling a friend about what the Janjaweed militias and the Sudanese government are doing is far more productive than ignoring the problem entirely.
I cannot and will not criticize someone for feeling insecure about these issues. They are difficult to discuss and even more so to do something about them.
I’m not asking bands to devote all of their songwriting to the Sudanese farmers who have been driven from their homes. Nor do I expect lecturers to forfeit their curriculum entirely.
But we all have talents, and we all have ways of reaching the ears and eyes of others.
I chose to write an editorial. It’s not inventive or profound, but it’s what I do best.
This country declared freedom for all its citizens 229 years ago. But it took another 89 years to free African-American slaves. It took 144 years to give women the right to vote.
The Darfur genocide effectively started in 2003. The international community has been arguing for two years, and doesn’t appear to be reaching any clear resolution.
Imagine if something had been done two years ago. Thousands of lives could have been saved.
Imagine if this disaster continues for another two years, and an entire people are destroyed.
Possibly the greatest tragedy of the Darfur conflict is the sacrifice that many of the Sudanese farmers have made to let the world know of their plight.
When leaders visit the region, which is not very often, the refugees are threatened if they disclose any details about the Janjaweed militias and their actions. They still talk, but the world does not seem to listen.
It is an insult to the memory of 1.5 million Armenians, 6 million Jews, 1.7 million Cambodians, and 800,000 Rwandans that genocide still occurs in this world, after so many promises that it would never take place.
I am very, very tired of hearing the phrase ‘never again’ uttered by people who have no real intention of preventing mass murder.
It is time for everyone to take action, not just human rights organizations and discreet politicians.
The Holocaust continued because Allied leaders did nothing to stop it. The Rwandan genocide was only met with complacency and apology.
It is time for humans to learn from past mistakes. What better place to do that than a university?
Jacob Beizer is a second-year English major.