Thursday, August 2, 2007

Excuse me while I rant

"The situation in Darfur is the worst humanitarian disaster the world faces today." Gordon Brown in his speech to the UN, July 31, 2007


Really? Well, you could have fooled me. I guess the ones we initiate don't count. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for doing something to stop the horror in Darfur. I'm not saying the situation there doesn't need to be addressed just because there's a massive humanitarian catastrophe happening in Iraq. But the Bush administration has been hauling out the Darfur crisis for years now, exploiting a fictional concern for Africa as political camouflage.**

It's disheartening to hear Brown, for all his declared intent to be the Unpoodle, mouthing blather so agreeable to Washington, but this rant isn't really about Brown or Bush. It's about churches. Specifically, it's about the heavy involvement of affluent churches here in the Bible Belt in the Not On Our Watch campaign for Darfur. West Nashville--largely rich and white--is sprouting the green and white Save Darfur signs like crazy. They pockmark the pricey landscaping all over the 'hood, and a number of the churches have big banners on their front lawns. It has obviously become quite the fashionable cause among the well-heeled Christians in town, especially those of a mainstream liberal bent.

Good works are good works, I suppose, and I ought to be glad to see that crowd putting their attention on something so obviously worthy--but the whole business just makes me want to scream. Go cruising around that site in the last link and you'll read lots of righteous snippets about everything from capital punishment to fair trade coffee--but if there's anything there about the ongoing atrocity we're overseeing in Iraq, I couldn't find it.

Isn't it astonishing that institutions which profess such devotion to principles of peace and justice, and which don't hesitate to lobby on behalf of Darfur, could turn away from a much larger crime in which every citizen of the United States is implicated? I'm sure that many, probably most, of the people in the "Save Darfur" churches are vigorously opposed to the war in Iraq. So why aren't there any banners exhorting us to end the war and help Iraqi refugees?

Husband Dave is an elder in a liberal Presbyterian denomination (not a "Save Darfur" church, but the same cohort), and the two of us periodically tie it up over what I call the cowardice and hypocrisy of such churches. The debate never gets very far because: a) Dave is too civilized to fight about it--I am the brawler in this house; and b) I think he has yet to come up with a decent rebuttal. Maybe because there isn't one.

It wouldn't matter if the Jesus contingent wasn't so powerful in this part of the country--but they are tremendously powerful in mobilizing people on issues across the political spectrum. People in the red states like to have the divine stamp of approval on their opinions. (I'm not saying I like that fact, but it isn't going to change any time soon.) It's true that the right-wing Christians push their agenda through more often, but that's largely because they're willing to scream louder. The liberal churches could put their God cred to use in the same way, but for some reason they won't. If they had had the guts to come out in full voice against the war years ago, it would have made a difference. It would make a difference now.



**It has used its anti-AIDS program in just the same cynical way. For a quick overview of what's wrong with the US AIDS intitiative in Africa, see this report from Africa Action. If you feel like wading through some more, check out PEPFARwatch.org. See this article by Alex de Waal in The Nation for a very good rundown on Darfur.

8 comments:

Leopoldo said...

The Darfur agenda doesn't play out the same way over here - in fact, this aspect of Brown's Stateside visit was a footnote rather than the real deal.

But realpolitik, eh?

Mary said...

I'm afraid that Darfur is becoming the 'chic' issue du jour in this country. I attribute this, at least partly, to Iraq-fatigue. People are looking for something...anything...to take their focus away from the war. (Or, as my lover Michael Ware calls it, "the slow moving train wreck" that is Iraq). As for the church-folk, it must suck to be part of the faction that re-elected Bush and Cheney. I'm not even going to go there concerning the hypocrisy.
I know one thing. I would rather have had my tax dollars poured into Darfur over the past 5 years than into this contemptible and hopeless war.

As for Brown, I heard nothing fundamentally different in his interviews that distinguished him from any other politician.

Jen said...

From what I can tell, I think here in Memphis they could care less about either atrocity.

Bozo said...

Mary's got it right.

What I want to know is when there will ever be an accounting against the people who have lied repeatedly, and still lie, to justify invading and destroying a country and causing the deaths of God knows how many people. Will it not be until Bush and his cronies die and go to hell? Oops, I forgot: he's a Christian who has said several times that "freedom is God's gift to mankind" and that it his task on earth to fulfill God's purpose.

Is this insanity or what?

chayaruchama said...

You nailed it.

[And, with the potential to spiral into the REST of the Middle East,it promises to be never-ending]

You and David basically agree...

Renee said...

uh-uh-uh *shaking my head*

Renee said...

I say "uh-uh-uh," meaning

But you realize these people think we are bombing, pillaging, torturing heathen people who hate us and who pray for our death and destruction, and that these are also the people responsible for 9/11. That is what they think. According to their logic, they have no reason to call back the troups.

Darfur is po black folks. A perfect way for Southern white folk to appease their consciences without having to get up close and personal to any.

(I know. That's a lot to pack into one uh-uh-uh.)

BitterGrace said...

Well, I thought sure somebody would tell me to climb down off it, but we're just a peaceable kingdom here--only w/o a king. Wish that were true of the world. Or even this country. Anyhow, I'm very glad you all chimed in.


Chaya, you're right, D and I do basically agree, though we managed to have a half hour wrangle on the subject today. BTW, I should have described myself as a rhetorical brawler. There is no actual violence in this house, except occasionally amongst the dogs.

Jen, report back if/when the Save Darfur thing hits Memphis. The political dynamic is so different there.