Redeeming America

What it will take to win back the world

| Utne Reader July / August 2007

  • Falling Flag

    image by David Plunkert

  • Falling Flag

On April 18, President Bush delivered a long-awaited speech on his plan to stem the genocide in Darfur. During three years of international hand-wringing, hundreds of thousands had died and millions had been displaced in waves of violence that showed no signs of abating. The hope was that this speech would be a beginning to the end of the suffering.

No stranger to dramatic symbols, Bush chose to appear at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., during a weeklong observation of Holocaust Remembrance. Several survivors attended, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, and Bush addressed them directly: 'You who have survived evil know that the only way to defeat it is to look it in the face and not back down.'

Then came the call to action: 'It is evil we are now seeing in Sudan--and we're not going to back down.'

As Bush began to outline his plan for Darfur, however, what began as a battle cry quickly turned into just another hollow threat. The onetime with-us-or-against-us commander in chief explained that he would give the United Nations more time for diplomacy, even as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's regime was painting its warplanes white--pirating the color of humanitarian relief.

The decision to avoid direct action was a bitter disappointment to those thousands who had worked tirelessly in the grassroots campaign to end the genocide. But more notably, it was reportedly a frustrating disappointment to The Decider himself.

This was a president, after all, who in 2001 famously scrawled 'Not on my watch' in the margins of a report detailing the Clinton administration's failures to prevent the murderous mania that claimed 800,000 innocents in Rwanda; the first American president to use the word genocide to define an ongoing mass slaughter; and who, despite all his global blundering and plundering, had marshaled the necessary diplomatic resources to forge a fragile but meaningful peace in the bloody 21-year civil war between Sudan's north and south. This was, in short, a leader who wanted to stop the killing in Darfur.

Lauren Randall
9/22/2008 11:54:57 PM

"GENERATION Q" It is refreshing to see an article written about our generation which does not punish us for being too 'idle' or too humanitarian in times of economic crisis. I wrote this commentary in a response to Thomas L. Friedman's op-ed piece on Generation Q. I thought it pertinent: Generation Q, the quiet yet intelligent generation wielding promising technological and individual advances sans cohesive emotion, imposition, and deliberation. This is the contradictory critique of our generation; we create facebook groups and blogs, download music, and embody individuality, yet divert ourselves from national diplomatic crisis. We leave social security, national debt, and domestic policy to the older conservative generations. Although I am not here to negate this stereotype, I believe there are several reasons that Generation Q chooses to divert from governmental obligations, many of which have nothing to do with idleness, haste, or boredom. Generation Q is a global generation more connected than ever before, we supersede geographical constraints and connect beyond political parameters more than our predecessors. We are citizens of globalization, world constituents who respond to international obligations in order of priority. We aren’t knee-deep in social security because we are enraptured in atrocities being committed in Darfur, the war in Iraq, and the disparagement of wealth that divides the world into two economic hemispheres. We are young, idealistic and at times materialistic, but we have compassion and heart. Yes, we are the quiet generation, but we are far from inactive. We are cultured and educated to the disillusionment of the world. We are emerging from college as the brightest and most promising generation, yet we are unemployed. We spend 90% of our childhood studying and competing under immense national pressure to change all of the mistakes of prior generations. We choose to be silent, we choose not to fight and deli

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