Via Media

Via Media

The Shame of Darfur

Strong piece in the most recent issue of First Things:

Indeed, the administration’s mixed signals, alternately condemning and lauding the regime, have done little to rein in the Janjaweed marauders who keep the Darfur people from leaving fetid camps to plant crops and rebuild their shattered villages. And one reason the administration has not acted more forcefully is that the potent Christian groups involved in foreign affairs—those who anchored the religious coalition that compelled results in southern Sudan with unity and toughness—have been fragmented in their response to Darfur. This fact tarnishes the achievement in the south, and the stain will fall most heavily on the evangelical world. Born-again Christians in America, it will be said, care more about the deaths of their fellow believers in the south than about the deaths of Muslims in the west.


Given its special access to the White House and its grassroots muscle, the evangelical community remains uniquely situated to mobilize against what President Bush himself has described as “genocide in Darfur.” As one insider explained, “If evangelicals are not prioritizing it, then the administration will not prioritize it.” But the nation’s evangelicals should prioritize it. Even without sending American troops to the region, forceful and moral options remain. The administration can stop sending mixed messages, mount a determined effort to expand and empower African Union forces, add U.S. logistical support, secure more aid, and massively increase diplomatic and economic pressure.

And to make all this happen—to halt the rape and murder of Darfur—the vital element is action from the American religious community.


As startling as that "insider’s" statement is, there is much more in this piece – it’s a good, thorough examination of the situation in Sudan, going back to the genocide in the south, and explaining how that situation impacts the administration’s – and the religious community’s  – far more muted response to Darfur. (aside from the fact that those being harmed in Darfur are Sufi Muslims – not Christians.)

And since this new article is up, that means the the last issue is available online, in full.

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Plato's Stepchild

posted September 15, 2005 at 10:44 pm

I will never understand why a 33 year old civil war with a fanatically murderous Islamist regime that extinguished upward of 2 million lives took this long to appear on the radar screen of the West.
I always found this photograph from National Geographic of a few years back particularly chilling:

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posted September 15, 2005 at 11:40 pm

What’s there to understand ? Its news only if some Western nation (including Israel) were implicated in the killings. Then we can look forward to endless UN resolutions and leftie guilt trips. Then too those who died in Southern Sudan at the hands of Muslims were either Christians or animists. Had it been the other way round we would have everybody from the Vatican to Elie Wiesel apologising for it.

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posted September 16, 2005 at 9:23 am

Prof. Hertzke’s article justifiably praises evangelical Christians for their lobbying efforts on Sudan, but implicitly suggests that Catholics, Jews and mainline Protestants have not been active enough on Darfur (western Sudan) and Southern Sudan, either recently or in the past.
I think he is wrong, and I am mildly upset that First Things is promoting a thesis that evangelical Protestants are carrying the bulk of the burden on Darfur, at the apparent expense of Catholics and other Christians.
A quick search on Google gives one this:
and this:
and this:
It appears that Darfur has been near the top of the U.S. Church’s foreign policy agenda for more than a year, and the rest of Sudan for much longer.
According to his website, Prof. Hertzke’s chief area of interest is the influence of Protestant evangelicals on U.S. politics. In extending his academic interests into the Sudanese genocide, he implicitly misrepresents the activities of the rest of the Church. First Things can do better than this.

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posted September 16, 2005 at 10:08 am

You should write a letter to the editor along those lines. I would think they would print it.

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Frank Gibbons

posted September 16, 2005 at 9:21 pm

There’s 168 comments in the thread about homosexuality in the priesthood and four on Darfur. And sadly, the rare thread on Open Book about, say, Desperate Housewives, also generates far more comments than atrocities in the Sudan do. The Sudan doesn’t seem to be very much on the minds of the Catholics who visit here.
So let me say what I said some months ago on an Open Book thread about Darfur. The United States should invade the Sudan to end the genocide and to give the people there the right to worship and live as they wish. What would the Good Samaritan do if he happened upon the scene while his neighbor was being mugged? Turn his back?
Frank Gibbons

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Plato's Stepchild

posted September 17, 2005 at 6:57 pm

“There’s 168 comments in the thread about homosexuality in the priesthood and four on Darfur”
Interesting observation.

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