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A Genocide By Any Other Name

"In a stunning act of moral and political betrayal, committed for the most expedient of reasons, the Bush administration State Department has suddenly decided that Darfur isn't the site of genocide after all."
The above opener from an article in the Sudan Tribune is important on several fronts. Again, it shows how little important news we get in America, and it also highlights the cold shoulder Africa is receiving from most of the industrialized world (the part of the world with the military and monetary resources to help the most and best).

However, it also shows how an administration can think that by ignoring something, it is sure to go away. Without getting into other issues relating to this presidency, and other topics on which we've heard "No comment" from the White House, the news last Friday shows that Darfur is being given the silent treatment, and maybe, just maybe, it will walk back to Africa with the poverty and disease and leave us alone.

Calling a situation a 'genocide' is serious business. The label carries with it an imperative to act. We hope that we would be appalled if our friend recounts how he watched as his teenage neighbor was kidnapped, or how he didn't jump in front of the car that was about to hit the baby. But when our government (all of it, not just the executive branch) labels mass murder and displacement as genocide and then does nothing to stop its continuation, we sit comfortably on our couches, munching away at our pretzels and cheese.

For the Bush team to now recant their earlier label and declare the situation was, after all, not a genocide, is like our friend rationalizing his inaction: "Well, the teenager looked like she wanted to go with the kidnapper, and the baby, well, it shouldn't have been in the street in the first place." Statements that carry a hint of truth surrounded by opinion may help us sleep better at night, but the reality remains. People are being killed, raped, and forced from their homes.

Call it genocide, call it systematic killing, call it a crapshoot of an unfortunate predicament. It doesn't change the reality of what's happening. People are dying as their homes are set ablaze. Gang rape is commonplace. Safety is a distant memory. And all this during the month when the US assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council, a position with a little clout in a deteriorating agency. There is much to be done. May we worry more that we're not doing enough than what to call this thing.

“A Genocide By Any Other Name”