Thursday, December 14, 2006

Racists revealed by Darfur genocide

I was listening to a BBC story on the Darfur genocide yesterday. They interviewed the Zambian ambassador to the United Nations who was very critical of the regime in Sudan who is almost universally believed to be actively backing the genocide. In listening to the ambassador's comments I was struck by how rare they were. The Arab and sub-Saharan African world has been virtually silent on this tragedy.

Sub-Saharan Africa has attacked the United States and Europe for not doing enough to stop the Rwandan genocide. The Arab world stirs up worldwide indignation at the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis in the Occupied Territories.

Fair enough.

If Israel were to refuse to allow one ambulance through a checkpoint, the Arab world would whip up international anti-Israeli hysteria and pass this off as "proof" of a western conspiracy against Islam. If Europe were to refuse a boatload of black African immigrants without documents, African countries would scream racism.

But when the regime in Khartoum is actively complicit in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people (mostly black and mostly Muslim), the African and Arab worlds, with a few noble exceptions like Zambia, deafen the world with their silence.

Worse yet, when the US and Europe criticize the Sudanese regime for supporting this genocide, African and Arab countries attack THEM for supposedly advancing some sort of neo-imperialist agenda!

Apparently trying to stop the mass slaughter of Africans constitutes neo-imperialism. And protecting mass murderers constitutes some perverted version of pan-Arab or pan-African nationalism.


We know the Sudanese regime is genocidal. But an almost equal tragedy is the way that African and Arab governments are despicably more concerned with opposing Washington than with protecting innocent lives in Darfur.

They have forfeited the moral right to criticize the west for racism.

Update: This news puts the Bush administration in a quandry. The International Criminal Court is investigating crimes against humanity in Darfur and is apparently ready to launch its first prosecution regarding this conflict. The Bush administration has rightly spoken out forcefully against the genocide. But they've also done everything possible to undermine the ICC's legitimacy at every turn. It will be interesting to see whether the US administration is more committed to unilateralism or justice for war criminals and mass murderers.


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