Monday, December 5, 2011

Darfur Is Carnage Worth Watching

Darfur is a movie about journalists responding to brutal atrocities in Sudan. Some reporters do their job then get the hell out, believing this to be their role in the struggle against oppression. Others think the pen is mightier than the sword but an insufficient moral response to such depravities. With trembling hands, they drop their cameras to take up the right tools for the job.

Journalists played by Billy Zane, Kristanna Loken and Edward Furlong are visiting western Sudan with an African Union troop escort. They're a pitiful few eyes and guns in a lawless land of serial rape, child enslavement and tribal slaughter. Witnessing the Janjaweed militia engaged in the dirtiest of human deeds, they realize in horror that they can neither retreat without the blood of innocents on their hands nor engage without surely spilling their own.

Readers who wish to avoid the burden of knowing just how low people can go should also avoid this film. Unfortunately, such blissful ignorance usually renders one incapable of combating the injustices one cannot bear to face. Readers who choose to know what goes on in the darkest corners and ponder what we should do about it will appreciate this film.

Darfur is a place that separates folks into those who do what they can get away with, those who do what social convention requires and those who follow their moral compass wherever it leads. Yet, atrocities are hardly unknown in genteel locales, so viewers benefit from moral-compass-recalibrating. Consider recent events:

In 2002, Penn State grad assistant Mike McQuery saw coach Jerry Sandusky raping a boy around ten-years-old. While the kid stood naked with his hands against the locker-room wall trying to take it like a man, the so-called-adult witness was too traumatized to interfere or call police. That's if we accept his lame story, rather than the more-likely explanation that he feared losing his job.

McQuery currently faces no legal penalties. Why should he? For a generation, boys have been told an unassuming submissive man is better than an aggressive initiative man, who can easily be confused with guys who use their strength to oppress rather than serve. Why should McQuery obey nature's laws to protect the next generation, when his generation's laws scream against it? Had he slammed Sandusky's head on the tile, hollering for other men to help make a citizen's arrest, he might be the one with big trouble in a kinder, gentler ethically-confused nation.

In 2005, Canadian Katrina Effert strangled her newborn and tossed the body into a neighbor's yard. This year, the Edmonton appeal court gave her sixteen days in jail for disrespecting the neighbor's garden and zero days for disrespecting her baby.

The judge expressed sympathy with the "onerous demands" of childbirth. Why not? For a generation, girls have been told personal fulfillment outweighs any primal obligation to offspring. Shouldn't we commend this girl for carrying the torch of personal liberty a little farther? Perhaps soon, the law will allow us to rid ourselves of the "onerous demands" of spoiled teens and smelly grandparents as well. Vive la liberté!

Still, there are obstacles on the path to absolute freedom. After seeing the depths of human depravity in a concentration camp, Victor Frankl suggested that the Statue of Liberty should be supplemented by a Statue of Moral Responsibility, lest freedom degenerate into a meaningless existence. Getting everything we want isn't utopia, if we see monsters when we look in the mirror. Some consider lawless Sudan a libertarian paradise. Some celebrate the liberty to do as they wish with vulnerable children or babies that nature calls us to protect. Not me. Nature doesn't bend her laws to the will or courts of humans. All people submit to the laws of Nature in time. Sooner is better.


  1. Great post. I took the liberty of sharing it w/ my Fb friends.

  2. New follower via book blogs, thought I'd say hi! Trev @

  3. Lynn,

    EXCELLENT review (and commentary)! I'll pass this along to a few friends who might give a phuck and who can even locate Darfur on a map.

    I've looked at some of your other entries here as well. You're a talented and wise writer, Lynn.


  4. Lynn,

    You might consider joining the following site for some additional exposure:

    There are some 400+ writers on this site (aka SWI), untold thousands of readers. Bob's stats -- which he issues to all of on a monthly basis -- are impressive to say the least. And he has absolutely no problem with your posting a piece first at your blogsite, then at his SWI site.

  5. Raji, Trev, & Russell,

    Thanks so much for standing on Sacred Ground. We try here to follow Gandhi's advice and be the change we want to see in this world. I think you'll find some wisdom here, because wisdom often comes from suffering, and suffering often comes from stupid decisions. So, having probably committed every sin but orgies (and that's just 'cause no one ever invited me), I may have some wisdom to share. Welcome aboard.

  6. Great post, Lyn. And as you astutely mentioned, the first step isn't pointing the finger of accusation but to look in the mirror and then DO something. In short, what's wrong with the world? I'm wrong with the world.

  7. Excellent post, Lyn, and timely. I'll check the movie out.