Tuesday 28 February 2006

So that's the problem.

Natalie the Wise links to this important post from Amygdala:

I've despaired of hoping many bloggers will blog much on Darfur. It's only genocide.

If it's not of use as a political football, either against or for G. W. Bush, it's of insufficient concern to blog about. And if one's fellow pack-members aren't blogging about it, aren't swarming about it -- and there are no blog-swarms absent a news hook, or a created campaign (and mostly the latter don't work) -- it's not really news, anyway.

Bloggers aren't the least bit better than the dread "MSM" in their pack-journalism. If anything they're worse, save that there are more bloggers and thus more outliers. But if the leading blogs of Your Side aren't saying "this is important, here's the news, here's the outrage," few bloggers notice.

It's only genoicide.


People are dying. Every day.

It's only genocide.

He does, of course, have a point. For myself, I can only say that I tend not to blog about the same thing again and again because I have a deep revulsion for anything like political campaigning — you'll never see any "NO2ID" buttons or purple-finger graphics round here, no matter how much I may agree with the sentiments behind them — and also that I thought that Harry's Place was doing a better job of saying all the right things about the genocide in Sudan than I could ever manage and that there was therefore little point in my saying "Yeah, ditto" — quite the opposite of the reasons Amygdala identifies. Nevertheless, those aren't the most impressive of excuses when it comes to publicising something like this, really, are they? Natalie says:

As I've said before, despair is indeed the reason for silence. It's not just that there seems to be no partisan advantage in talking about it, it is that there seems to be no advantage full stop.

I said something similar here:

One of the more distressing aspects of modern life is the way we're expected to sit back and watch as genocide happens, yet again, and our "leaders" do fuck all about it, yet again.

So I support these guys, who want, through the twin miracles of banners and shouting, to shame the UN into stopping the Darfur genocide. Good luck to them. I really, genuinely hope they succeed. But they won't.

Really, what have any of us seen in our lifetimes to support the idea that this sort of thing will be stopped? Sure, it can be stopped. But we know that it won't. Its being wrong and awful and sad makes that no less true.

Just to make matters worse — as if genocide needs to be any worse — it's in Africa. And, yes, I'm sorry, but that does mean that most people don't give a shit. It's not a matter of racism; it's just a fact that people are more likely to notice the unusual than the usual. Jonah Goldberg puts it very well:

For the last decade or so, people in Sierra Leone, taking one sad example, have been cutting off the arms of other people, many of them children. I bring up Sierra Leone only because pictures from there have recently made their way into the newspapers.

The reason the papers decided to run these pictures of small children holding their food bowls with their elbows and old women walking on their knees is interesting. It's not the barbarism that got the press's attention, it's the fact that barbarism might have stopped. "Hey, this is interesting. They might have stopped butchering each other in this sliver of Africa. Well, that's a dog bites man story."

I can't bring myself to think too much about genocide. It is the single worst type of event in the world, it is occurring constantly, it is only very rarely stopped or even slightly curbed, and there's sod all I can do about it. With apologies to the people of Darfur, thinking too long and too hard about their plight is an emotional investment I simply cannot afford.

That being said, I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago — not the bloody BBC, for once, but Cool FM, whose news reports are generally quite serious and non-patronising, despite the name — and they mentioned Darfur's problems. What they said was that a peace accord was signed a year ago, but the region still suffers from food shortages, poor education, and a lack of medical supplies. No mention that the "peace accord" was a transparent fiction to delay the UN for long enough to finish the genocide, or that the ploy worked. No mention that the reason for the food shortages is the deliberate destruction of crops in order to starve people to death. No mention at all, in fact, that one group of people in Sudan are systematically exterminating the rest of the population. Nope, just food shortages, poor education, and a lack of medical supplies. Perhaps if we build a couple of schools and send them some wheat, everything will be OK.

I had to turn the radio off. I was screaming at it.

If you're in a position to stop this or any other genocide, please do. The rest of us can only despair.

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