Thursday, May 24, 2007

An Essay: They're Just Africans Anyway, Right? (Redux)

Hi everybody. Last night I got home later than expected and then the second hour of 360 was a special of repeat pieces anyway, so I'm a reviewer with nothing to review. I thought about living up to that whole "other newsy musings" part of my blog's purpose (at the top, people) and going in depth on Dragon Skin or something, but...I'm beat. So after watching some of the stories from Africa in the special last night, I decided to post this essay again. Hey, if 360 can run repeats, so can I! And yes, I know I literally just linked to this not even a week ago, but look at it this way-now you don't have to click. See how easy I make things for you? Anyway, I wrote the following last September:

You don’t know when it was that you first heard there was trouble in Darfur. You like to be aware of the news. You read blogs. And one day you are reading about trouble in Darfur. Suddenly you are learning new words like “janjaweed” and “Khartoum”. And then there is the not new word: "genocide". You read a summary about the bad things happening in Darfur. And one of these bad things you read about involves live babies being thrown into fires. And you let that knock around in your head. Babies thrown into fires.

You remember you read about the same thing in an intense college class that covered the Holocaust. Babies thrown into fires. But that was history. That was a time when you did not exist. Babies thrown into fires. Now. Babies being thrown into fires today. You try, but you can’t wrap your mind around these babies half a world away being thrown into fires. So you make it real to you. You think of some babies you know. American babies. And you think of these babies being ripped from these mothers you know and then being thrown into fires and it makes you want to vomit. It makes you want to scream. And now you understand that this trouble in Darfur is not far away at all.

This trouble in Darfur is right here. Right here. And you want to help. And you find a website named savedarfur.org and that is just what you want to do. Darfur is in trouble and you want to save it. At the same time you are reading articles by Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times. And these articles say things that are just as horrible as babies being thrown into fires. And you read about these women who go to get the firewood and end up being raped. You wonder why the men don’t go instead and then you read that these women go because the men are killed, but the women are just raped. Just raped. Just.

By this time you have been emailing your representatives because you want to save Darfur. And they are emailing back about the important legislation they are passing to help. And you are hopeful. You think maybe this will help. Maybe.

Time goes on and one day you read about a congressional resolution for Darfur. A unanimously passed resolution. And you are so happy. And you think maybe this will help. Maybe. But then you hear the Bush Administration is attempting to block this unanimously passed resolution. This is when you learn that the government of Khartoum is a secret ally in The War On Terror. And suddenly you are mad. You are so mad you throw something across the room. You never get that mad.

Your life moves on and there are more emails and more legislation. And you try not to think about the babies being thrown into fires. On the television you might even hear Darfur mentioned in between the Michael Jacksons and Natalee Holloways. And you hear Nicholas Kristof say he is writing the same story over and over. And you see he is right.

You learn the Bush Administration has been taking the world lead on the conflict. Finally. Barely. But you see no results. Then one day you learn that Congress has cut the $50 million of funding needed for African Union forces. You know these forces are the only thing preventing many more babies from being thrown into fires. You think of how $50 million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the money spent on Iraq and you wonder how people could be so immoral.

Suddenly you are focused on this money. You find out there is a chance to add this money to another bill and you lobby hardcore. You send emails and make phone calls. It takes you less than 10 minutes. You think of all the worthless things people spend 10 minutes doing everyday. You even email the State Department and find that Secretary Rice is also interested in getting this money. This makes you hopeful and again you think maybe. Maybe.

But the bill comes and goes with no money to stop the babies being thrown into fires. You are not even outraged anymore. You continue to read of the raping and death and starvation. This is Darfur in 2003. This is Darfur in 2004. This is Darfur in 2005. This is Darfur in 2006. This is Darfur slowly being bled dry. A realization begins to form in the back of your mind.

You don’t give up though. You still pay attention and you learn there will be a big rally in Washington D.C. You watch it on CSPAN and wish you were there. George Clooney speaks. He and his father actually went to the region and now they are a mission. You watch him go on news shows to talk about Darfur and you are filled with admiration. But you don’t think maybe anymore. You are still hopeful, but maybe is gone.

And that realization in the back of your mind has finally broken it’s way to the front in the form of song lyrics from Devotchka: And you already know/Yet you already know/
How this will end/. And you pray you are wrong. And you pray you are wrong. And you pray you are wrong.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rachel said...

This actually gave me chills. It's beautiful and bleak and tragic. Mostly because it's true. And because even though you know it only takes ten minutes to contact your congressman or your senators, most people won't bother. And because $50 million really is nothing, NOTHING, compared to the money being pissed away on one disastrous, corrupt project after another in Iraq. And because the Holocaust Must Never Happen Again, and We Must Never Forget, and yet here we are, forgetting and letting it happen.

More people should speak out against this. Thanks for posting.

1:55 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks Rachel. It's so frustrating that even with more attention, still nothing seems to be getting better.

5:10 AM  

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