Friday, May 11, 2007

I took my son, Kye, to his first rally on Tuesday. In some ways this was a positive for me. Kye is going to be a part of this vast imperfect world. It’s essential that he learn to stand up against the gross injustices that seem to be endemic. Eight-months-old is as good a time to start as any.

And yet… My almost-three-year-old daughter, Wylde, was there too. A seasoned pro, this wasn’t her first protest. She had been at the interfaith rally against genocide at five weeks of age. This time she held a sign – mostly upside down of course – asking cars to honk for peace in Darfur.

I’m proud of her for coming out again, this time with a rudimentary understanding that we were asking bad men to learn how to share, not hurt people just because they could. It should have been a great day for our family.

My problem is that three years have passed and we still need to come to the same place and protest the vile actions of the same people against the same victims. In the intervening time, some progress has purportedly been made. The United States has correctly labeled the Sudanese government’s actions as genocide. The U.N. has drawn up good plans to send in peacekeepers. A few thousand African peacekeepers have even entered the area with some armaments and the capacity to witness.

Yet the pace of genocide has not slackened. Government-sponsored rapes, murders, ethnic cleansing, disease and starvation proceed steadily without a pause.

The RAC and others have spoken out forcefully, but it hasn’t made the slightest difference. Our government courageously called a genocide a genocide, but like the rest of the world seems helpless to take meaningful action to stop it. The government perpetrating genocide hasn’t given the U.N. permission to send in peacekeepers? Shocking. The cost of saying “No” must be raised until they capitulate. Instead, the United States is holding off on strengthening sanctions to give the U.N more time to negotiate. All this accomplishes is giving the Sudanese government more time to ethnically cleanse Darfur and destabilize neighboring Chad.

So far we’ve failed the Sudanese no less than we failed the Rwandans and no less than the “civilized” peoples of the world failed our Jewish fathers and mothers in Europe through the 30’s and 40’s. “Never again,” is in serious danger of becoming an empty slogan if it hasn’t already. (I’m reminded of the bowl of petunias in “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” which thinks, “Not again,” but is resigned to the endless repetition of its tragedy.)

I don’t know how, but our government needs to do better, and so do we. Otherwise I fear Wylde and Kye will be bringing their children to the same spot to hold the same signs.


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