Never again, yet again
Calls for action - most recently from President Bush as he applied renewed pressure on Khartoum - have been regular media events since the Darfur crisis began. Pressure mounts on the United States to do more. Angry voices demand that China repudiate its noxious partnership with Sudan, and petition sites and advocacy groups have sprung up across the Web.
Yet the killing continues, the abuse and rape of women and murder of children persists, and the dislocation of thousands goes on. By now more than 400,000 people have been slaughtered and more than 2.5 million driven from their homes.
What is happening in Darfur has been formally described as genocide, an event most civilized nations have committed themselves to allow never again to occur. Former United Nations head Kofi Annan argues that a force of perhaps 24,000 troops could save the people; still we remain bystanders.
Why so much rhetoric and so little action on Darfur? The war on terror is partly to blame. Early on in the crisis, U.S. officials didn't want to press Sudanese authorities who were cooperating in the hunt for terror operatives even as they directed an unofficial scorched-earth policy in Darfur. Now with U.S. forces committed elsewhere, U.S. leadership has abandoned any notion of a more interventionist policy on Darfur, calculating that the American public has little stomach for yet another military campaign, even one intended to respond to the gravest crime against humanity.
Ironically the sheer enormity of the suffering may also be contributing to the lack of progress. Writing in a recent issue of Foreign Policy, Paul Slovic, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, argues that the superhuman scale of Darfur's suffering generates a kind of empathy overload: "Not only do we fail to grasp the gravity of the statistics, but the numbers themselves may actually hinder the psychological processes required to prompt action."
Meanwhile Beijing places political and economic self-interest above moral clarity on Darfur, keeping the Sudanese oil spigots open as it stiff-arms any international reviews of another nation's "domestic affairs," perhaps mindful of how such a precedent could invite a more thorough audit of its own campaigns against Buddhist and Muslim minorities.
The United Nations has been waiting for a formal invitation from the Sudanese to police the troubled region. This is sort of like waiting for the wolf's OK to guard the sheep. (At press time Sudan agreed to the deployment of a United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force.) Darfur, in short, twists in the wind of a perfect storm of political impotence and moral lassitude. We do the agonizing; they do the dying.
In the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, many of the world's political leaders found themselves forced into public displays of atonement for our shameful lack of response.
"It may seem strange to you here," President Clinton said in his own 1998 tarmac mea culpa in Kigali, "but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror." Surely that cannot be said today about Darfur (if it could be said about Rwanda). Surely we understand that the world, whether led by the United States or the United Nations, has the capacity and the moral responsibility to act now.
Solidarity is a precious gift and a heart-stopping challenge. We need to get past the numbers and look into the faces of this tragedy. We need to rediscover our common humanity and defend it. The world needs no more mea culpas. The people of Darfur cannot endure one more mea culpa; many of them may not be able to endure one more day.
- - -
Kevin Clarke is senior editor at U.S. Catholic and online content manager at Claretian Publications.
Kevin Clarke - ,
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Getting Creative With Dead Bodies?
- A Big Thank You from JESUS IS - The Series HD Video
- St. Maximinus of Trier: Saint of the Day for Monday, May 29, 2017
- US Archbishop decries President Trump's budget plan - at odds with ...
- Daily Readings for Monday, May 29, 2017
- 26 Coptic Christians dead after heinous attack HD Video
- Jesus Is HERE: Pope Francis declares Jesus intercedes for us every day
- Day 5 - Novena to the Holy Spirit for a New Pentecost for the Church HD
- Day 4 - Novena to the Holy Spirit for a New Pentecost for the Church HD
- Day 3 - Novena to the Holy Spirit for a New Pentecost for the Church HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.