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Old 04-22-2007, 01:15 AM   #16
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Meh. . .I think in general it's less about Africa per se, than the world in general. I find the average American is pretty clueless about the rest of the world compared to the average person outside of the U.S.

As for "caring", I think that's human nature. Something tells me the folks in Italy aren't particularly torn up about what happened in Virginia last week. . .or what's happening in Darfur either. I think it's always hard for people to "care" about something that doesn't seem to directly touch or impact them.

I agree that placing more emphasis on the full of extent of the tragedy taking place in Darfur would help a lot. That, and emphasizing a more a balanced picture of Africa as whole, because what seems to galvanize people is when they find out about some horror happening in a place that is otherwise "normal." I suspect that many people in the rest of the world (not just the U.S) tend to view Africa is just one big place of multiple horrors of disease, war, and poverty etc and it's hard for them to distinguish Darfur from all the rest of the horribleness.

And I must confess I'm speaking for myself as much as anyone, as I know my knowledge of the situation in Darfur is limited too.
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Old 04-22-2007, 01:17 AM   #17
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Originally posted by VertigoGal
because I feel like there's not a damn thing on the earth I can do to stop it.
Maybe this is the real core of the problem when Americans (and others) are considering the horror. What can we actually do?
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Old 04-22-2007, 01:18 AM   #18
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I agree that placing more emphasis on the full of extent of the tragedy taking place in Darfur would help a lot.
How? Would we write our Congressmen, demanding something?
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Old 04-22-2007, 01:44 AM   #19
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Originally posted by martha


How? Would we write our Congressmen, demanding something?
I wrote Woolsey and Feinstein several monthas ago. I got an e-mail saying thanks for e-mailing.

Bottom line - these people only care about what gets them elected. If Africa concerns become real popular - then we'll hear more hot air and possibly see an increase in funding somehwere.
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Old 04-22-2007, 01:55 AM   #20
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Well, that's true.
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Old 04-22-2007, 02:42 AM   #21
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It's not primarily a question of Congressional funding (although Joint Res 20 for $50 million passed in February, and the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill remains on the table). Most of the Darfur-related bills moving through Congress right now pertain to divestment, targeted sanctions, and port-entry denial.

Group action through organizations like Save Darfur and the Genocide Intervention Network (which includes letter writing, as well as lobbying, divestment campaigns, demonstrations, support of relief agencies already in Sudan, and media outreach) is more effective. Of course other than domestic divestment campaigns, it's all indirect action; what's most needed is to get Sudan to agree to let in the planned joint UN-AU peacekeeping force of 20,000, which will only happen through continued UN and AU negotiations with Khartoum. Just last week they did agree to let in 3000 more AU troops (mostly military police) which is technically Phase I of the UN plan, and a significant concession. Meanwhile the US and the UK are now forcefully arguing with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for forcing a Security Council vote on much broader sanctions, including divestment and freezing of Sudanese government accounts abroad, a tighter arms embargo, and implementation of no-fly zones. Ban is concerned that the Sudanese government will become even more resistant to letting in more peacekeeping troops if the screws are tightened on them too quickly.

Intense public pressure from organizations like Save Darfur is very much behind the present renewed push for these efforts. That's not saying the present state of affairs is anything to celebrate, but it's absolutely untrue that those pressures have had no effect.

Unfortunately, it's a complicated matter diplomatically because there isn't international consensus on what needs to be done--no one is willing to intervene militarily on their own, though there have been a few calls for a NATO "Plan B", unlikely since NATO is currently preoccupied with Afghanistan; China (which has veto power over Security Council decisions) has extensive investments in Sudan and is balking at possibly losing those, though they have stepped up their own negotiations with Khartoum during the last couple weeks; and in some quarters the entire affair is viewed as an anti-Arab propaganda campaign of sorts by the US and the UK to create a pretext for overthrowing the Sudanese government. The situation is still a long ways from being as bad as Rwanda, but then that's sure as hell not saying much.

So, there's nothing any of us can do directly--we can only apply collective pressure domestically for pressure in turn being notched up abroad. If you don't see even that much effort as worth your time, well, suit yourself, but I don't understand that at all.
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Old 04-22-2007, 03:01 AM   #22
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Maybe we care more about ourselves and our own communities to the extent we are unwilling to give up any aspect of our society and lives to ensure a better life for other humans on the planet regardless of where they live.

Bono's lyrics from Crumbs from your Table express what our sentiments as a species should be but aren't.

"Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?"

Yes, we do.

"Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die"

But it does, it does indeed.

I agree with Yolland that pressure on politicians is the only way to affect change in public policy. Hence, the Make Poverty History campaign, or other popular movements. I email my MP which is all I can do as an individual to pressure public policy unless I make outrageous campaign contributions to gain favour.

Little things like donations are helpful but not permanent solutions to what I believe is a radical change in the way the world operates to even come close to addressing the problems which have been with us. I doubt this change will ever come in my lifetime as the people who live in the ivory towers will never let it come to pass. $$$$$$$$$$$$ is more important than human life even in 2007.
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Old 04-22-2007, 10:49 AM   #23
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Maybe that's the answer then: more public education about what people can actually do in the face of such an immense situation. If people think there's nothing they can do at all, they aren't likely to want to know about something so horrible, but if they think they can help, maybe they be willing to pay more attention.
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Old 04-22-2007, 07:30 PM   #24
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that's because in the US news is about ratings. Americans aren't more or less shallow than anyone else -- everyone, everywhere, is going to be naturally more drawn to glittery, emotional, possibly trashy, human interest stories than horribly depressing news from Africa. i don't feel badly because i love "Best Week Ever." i would feel badly if i watched that and didn't seek out news from a variety of sources, especially and including PBS.

this is why government funding for public television is critically important. money kills news. the CBC, the BBC -- all are supported by taxpayer dollars/pounds. journalists are allowed to be journalists and they aren't forced by the powers-that-be to leaven any sad news with something a little more uplifiting or fun, god forbid someone switch the channel.
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