I have few worries that I’m ever going to become so rich and famous that I lose track of my roots. I’ve been blessed (cursed?) with friends who will always be there to slap me back into reality should I become too bourgeois.
The other night I was on a long-distance phone call with one of those friends. She prides herself on being one of those people who sees the man behind the curtain, the hidden agenda, and the secret cabal that has its dirty little fingers around the levers of power. She says even as I do my thing in the mainstream, she is doing hers in the underground.
We talked about Barack Obama and the UNITY convention (and she dogged me out for leaving before Obama addressed the convention). We discussed–well, she went off about how Planned Parenthood and the environmental movement perpetuate eugenics and class elitism—I listened politely.
Somehow the name of Ron Paul came up. I said I didn’t have much use for Paul due to his “no involvement” policy toward Darfur and the horrendous ethnic cleansing occurring.
What she said next actually surprised me.
“Darfur doesn’t matter.”
I beg your pardon? When exactly did genocide stop mattering? When did mass rape and slaughter become something to yawn about?
“Nobody cares about Darfur. People here care about the dollar being worth 30 cents. They care about gas going up to $10 a gallon. They’re going to bomb Iran and that will be the “October Surprise” to get McCain elected. Darfur? Nobody’s worried about Darfur.”
My initial reaction was, “Are you serious? How could a good, liberal, progressive, borderline anarchist not care?”
Then again, maybe she’s right. I just came back from a convention of minority journalists. I don’t remember hearing a peep about the Sudanese government or the Janjaweed or the United Nations largely sitting on their hands due to general disinterest from the world community about 300, 000 dead Africans in a dirt-poor country.
There are other far more interesting and considerably less depressing things to talk about.
There are plenty of good, pretty good and downright terrible movies to see this summer. We’re in the middle of a red-hot presidential race. The NFL is getting ready for a new season and the pennant race is heating up in major league baseball. And of course, there’s always the Summer Olympics to command our attention.
The Olympics are being held in China this year. The same China we’re not supposed to criticize for being the best friend the Sudanese government has on the Security Council of the U.N. Only the United States has called what is occurring in Darfur as “genocide.” None of the other permanent members of the Security Council have followed suit.
Maybe I shouldn’t be upset with my friend. Darfur doesn’t have oil. Darfur doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction. Darfur just have lots of Black people (though not as many as they used to).
And since when has the world lost much sleep over the suffering of Africans anyhow? Ethiopia. Rwanda. South Africa. It all becomes a blur. Compassion fatigue may have settled in and it’s traveling buddy, indifference not lagging far behind. Even African-Americans don’t seem to be overly concerned over what happens in Africa.
The weather outside is hot. But it’s easy to be cold about Darfur.