Bored with genocide

There’s a saying between Rwandan genocide survivors that the phrase âÄúnever againâÄù really means âÄúagain and again and again.âÄù And sadly, that seems to be true. Many of us have now heard about the genocide taking place in Darfur, a southwestern region in Sudan. In the last five years, approximately 300,000 innocent Darfuris âÄî a bit less than the population of Minneapolis âÄî have been systematically killed and 2.2 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations. And their government has been the main perpetrator of the violence. Stories about the genocide in Darfur used to top the global news hour, and accounts of brutal rapes and bombings by government militias flew onto the pages of our newspapers. But things have changed. Journalists are now shunned from Sudan, aid groups are leaving the country in fear, the international humanitarian platform is moving on to more easily controlled issues and the rest of us are just too apathetic to act. Last week, the Minnesota Interfaith Darfur Coalition sponsored the event âÄúDarfur: Where is Our Moral Compass?âÄù at the state Capitol grounds that combined an interactive refugee camp exhibit, speakerâÄôs season and rally to bring attention to the genocide in Darfur. They even coordinated free transportation to and from the event. But their hopes of filling the mall with impassioned community members calling for change were quickly dashed. Instead of thousands of attendants, there were only around 200, according to the Pioneer Press. Maybe it was the first week of classes, move-ins or the Republican National Convention that caused most of us (including myself) to miss the event. But maybe it was something more insidious than that. I believe weâÄôve become bored with Darfur. After five years of widespread killing, most of us still cannot identify Darfur or Sudan on a world map. Many dedicated activists are getting âÄúDarfur fatigueâÄù and are unable to continue dogging lawmakers, politicians and political leaders to care about the Darfuris. For the rest of us, well, even if we did act, it feels like little could actually be accomplished, considering theyâÄôre living in such a dire situation in a country so far away. At least thatâÄôs what weâÄôve told ourselves after every genocide. When the phrase âÄúnever againâÄù was coined after the Holocaust, it was treated as a global promise to stop future events of such horrific, systematic killing. But then genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, among others, surfaced. The countless victims of those killings were considered disposable enough for us not to act. So what does this mean for us as students and inheritors of the world? Should we pressure the presidential candidates into promising action change, hold candlelight vigils on the Northrop Mall or simply keep our noses in our books and our own business? With the U.S. mortgage crisis dragging on, the economy staying stagnant and the War in Iraq never ending, itâÄôs becoming more and more difficult to stray away from our own personal challenges and pay attention to whatâÄôs happening in the rest of the world. But Alice Musabende, a Rwandan genocide survivor can tell you why itâÄôs so important to become involved in shunning genocide. She may tell you that the 20 members of her family who were slaughtered in 1994 would still be alive or that she wouldnâÄôt have been orphaned. That she would be just like us. But instead, Musabende, fresh out of college, is speaking out against the genocide in Darfur, which experts have called âÄúRwanda in slow motion.âÄù At last weekâÄôs event, the straight-talking, brutally honest young woman asked, âÄúWhat on earth does it take for you to act?âÄù according to the Pioneer Press. The answer is that IâÄôm not really sure. WeâÄôve seen genocide again and again in the last century, yet as a united world, we continue to turn our back on the worst forms of human suffering imaginable. And with food crisis looming, and populations booming, itâÄôs clear that Darfur wonâÄôt be the last genocide of our lifetimes. Are there no more pictures, testimonies or videos that can cause us to rise up and denounce these injustices as a cohesive global community? Or have we succumbed to a new type of banality of evil? Of societal world-weariness, acceptance and normalization of genocide? I truly hope not. Sadly though, I sometimes fear that the world is just too bored to pay much attention to Darfur anymore. Please send comments to [email protected]