Truth is a tough mistress. The sting of her whip? Intellectual and moral consistency. Truth frustrates moral relativists and hypocrites alike. Truth is not interested in your voter registration card, which campaign you work for, what Plum Book position you snagged a presidential appointment to, or what “non-partisan” charitable organization allows you a place to park your desk. Truth is just truth.
Genocide is genocide. To fight genocide is to have a moral constitution of steel and act so ethically that your unflinching stance will yield truth, accountability and justice as a policy of those in government and civil society. For more than 500 years, for all of recorded history, slavery and genocide have existed. Mankind has always sought freedom and equality while simultaneously fighting enemies within our ranks.
The genesis of evil has been debated as long as we have had written language. From Homer and Herodotus, to Ovid and Shakespeare, to modern storytellers like the Grimm Brothers or Nathaniel Hawthorne or even Steven Spielberg, the battle between good and evil has raged. For all the fairy tale endings we find in the West, it has not always been so for our brothers and sisters in Africa. This fantasy, the self-anesthetized avoidance of acknowledging the existence of evil, may sell books or movie tickets but at the end of the day we know fairy tales are not real. The men and women who are truly courageous, honorable and heroic are real people. They are human and frail but somehow transcend the fragility of life to uplift our spirits and vanquish evil.
Bravery knows no bondage. It slips the tethers and casts light. The 1994 Rwandan genocide demonstrated what happens when we self-anesthetize. As did Apartheid. As did the Middle Passage. And here is where we find the genesis of modern evil. Few want to acknowledge this truth. It would mean we made bad decisions. It would mean we have not lived up to the ideals of the Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln. It would mean when our nation began Reconstruction after the Civil War we did not finish the job: end slavery. Not just here, but on both sides of the transaction, across the continent of Africa. It would mean as a people we allowed Presidents and successive sessions of Congress to make expedient decisions—decisions that make slavery and genocide possible today. Much as US Special Envoy Scott Gration has done, unchecked, with regard to Sudan.
Truth does not care about the politics of the day the way we do. Unfortunately, the competition for fame and accolades is too tempting for some in the political theater. There are charges and countercharges of racism. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, an army veteran, leveled accusations at the Tea Party protesters during an appearance on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Moulitsas declared: “They’re against democratic government, they’re anti-democratic…basically with just respect for democracy in this nation, I mean this is what the people voted for, and it’s one thing to oppose it on policy, it’s another thing to use the kind of exterminationist, eliminationist rhetoric that they’re using in appealing to violence and uh, and uh, that sort of thing.” [Emphasis mine.]
Sorry, Kos. As abhorrent as is the speech that emanates from some Tea Party attendees or speakers, I have not heard any credible news agency report they are genocidal. What is happening in the Sudan and the Congo is genocide. Rape, child soldiers, famine, preventable diseases and millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees–that is true horror, and Moulitsas knows better. But like many obsessed with the domestic political climate, the temptation to use apocalyptic hyperbole is too great. They cannot resist. The Pavlovian response is to escalate rather than be direct and honest.
Moulitsas is not alone. There is much to be wary of on the right side of the aisle. The drumbeat of accusations against the President centers around buzzwords like “socialist,” “communist” or “Marxist.” These and similar memes escalate the rhetoric rather than defer to the naked truth. Case in point: In February, at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville, World Net Daily’s Joseph Farah reiterated outright falsehoods about President Obama’s birth certificate. Just this week, at a South Carolina event, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo hurled a string of invectives that included a suggestion that President Obama needs to be sent back to Kenya.
As a long-time critic of Tancredo because of his previous statements with regard to Latino-Americans and illegal immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and elsewhere, I was unsurprised that his ire was racist. This is a man who broke his 1994 Contract with America term limits pledge. After nearly 20 years in politics, I know one thing for sure: if a pol breaks his word once, it will happen again and again. If the guy even flirts with racist commentary, I am all done. Ignorance is the tool of evil, and I refuse to defend it.
Neither Moulitsas nor Tancredo represent the totality of the Left or Right respectively. Unfortunately, many in the news media, governance, and the political committees tasked with campaigns and elections neglect to hold the bomb-throwers accountable. Truth matters. In 2006, after many scandals and out of control spending, Republicans lost their majorities in the US House and Senate and among Governors and State Legislatures. American voters were fed up. They gave Democrats a chance and here we are four years hence, with spending at astronomical levels and, according to a Pew Research poll, unprecedented suspicion of the federal government among our people.
The American people want truth. They want justice. They want simplicity and transparency in their own lives and in government. They want a President who will behave ethically and honestly. With the obfuscations, dueling press accounts and 24/7 saturation of inconsequential popularity contests, they are fed up. But if you scratch the surface and turn off the noise machine, you hear something altogether different.
Faith-based groups, a hallmark of the George W. Bush era, are working to support organizations like the coalition of 190-plus groups that make up the Save Darfur coalition. Human rights workers and left-leaning bleeding hearts have found soulmates on the right side of the aisle. And if you study, dig a little deeper, you find these people are working from their hearts. They are giving their lives to promote justice, equality and American ideals are doing so by pressing for an end to the real human tragedies all around the world. Stamping out poverty and preventable diseases. Bringing educational opportunities to the doorsteps of villages across the continent of Africa.
Americans must not be afraid to speak the truth. Slavery and genocide and racism and bigotry still exist. Whenever someone says “all” of any given group is X, that is bigotry. Ignorance is not bliss. President Obama talked the talk in 2008. Many Members of Congress and Senators have done yeomen’s work. But the American people are in an anti-incumbent, pro-honesty frame of mind.
Imagine, just for a moment, that voters informed themselves about the willful neglect exhibited by President Obama with regard to Sudan. Imagine they learned how he said all the right things, then once he became President outsourced responsibility to a man who valued expediency over morality. Imagine that in the name of our country, a genocide was allowed to occur—and we could have stopped it. That rather than act, he bowed to China, enabling companies like Sinopec to continue their petrol drilling, enriching genocidaire and indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir. That President Obama dismissed independent observers who declared the recent elections in Sudan a fraud, instead opting to work with Bashir.
If the human rights community and the faith-based communities will continue their work with activists from the left and right, President Obama will be forced to openly declare his intentions for Africa. American voters have a responsibility to shed ignorance and embrace truth. Our nation has faced difficult times before. We will again. But President Obama works for us. He must become a moral leader or face expulsion from office in 2012.
He should not sanction genocide in my name. Or in America’s name.
Elizabeth Blackney is best known as a media & communications strategist, political emissary, confidante and commentator. Perceptive and quick on the draw, she served as Political Director for BlogTalkRadio’s 2008 election coverage, and as a a writer for the AOL News Hot Seat. Now a full time opinionista, and Twitter maven, her targets are anti-war liberals, entrenched feminism, moral relativists and solipsistic elected officials and academics. Blackney authored Sex, Lies & Politricks.