Friday, December 31


Eugene Oregon, who has been keeping us informed about the Darfur disaster, expresses some righteous anger:

Why are Amazon and others not raising millions of dollars to help those being starved to death by the government of Sudan? Why is the world not mobilizing troops and hundreds of millions in donations to deal with the genocide that everyone acknowledges?

I do not mean to dismiss the severity of the current crisis, but I am simply unable to comprehend why this natural disaster is generating a massive outpouring of assistance while the year-long, man-made genocidal disaster in Darfur remains largely unreported and ignored.

I wish I knew why natural disasters evoked so much more empathy in the U.S. than do man-made disasters. I suspect it has something to do with some kind of despicable feeling of "deservedness" -- a natural disaster hits, nobody's to blame, everyone sympathizes and many donate dollars and supplies to help the victims. A man-made disaster occurs and someone must be held accountable, either the government (if you're for it, you postulate in its defense that someone else is the problem -- re 9/11, the gays, pro-choice movement, or Clinton -- and you distance yourself from the tragedy while using it politically; if you're against the administration, you donate to the relief fund or enlist as a volunteer aid worker) or someone else -- foreign terrorists; rebellious indigenous people who are so primitive they don't feel the pain anyway and would probably be better off dead since their future is so bleak; pansy-waist Democrats who wouldn't let us nuke the hell out of the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran and any other country who defied the good ole USA; or Clinton.

Some Americans just can't conceive of the overwhelming evils that lurk in the world. Mass genocide is too overwhelming for their simple psyches to process, so they fixate on the kind they can understand: the petty evil of a Scott Peterson or O.J. Simpson; the secret and immoral sex acts of their gay and lesbian neighbors; the shame that should be associated with unwed sex, especially when it results in pregnancy, which should label the mother with a scarlet "A" for the rest of her life; the treasonous acts of Democratic politicians and (occasionally) courageous media when they report the truth about the disastrous results of BushCo policies, both domestic and foreign, especially when criticizing "The War"; the heretical refusal of a great many Americans to anoint George W. Bush as the new Messiah, representative and spokesperson of God, infallible and omniscient.

It's not a pretty picture, but I think it's accurate. As Gore Vidal once said, "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half."

The November 2 election proved that this time, at least, it wasn't.


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