A leader of the nation’s largest evangelical organization sharply chastises Bush for his failure to act in a crisis situation. The dreaded g-word — genocide — is deployed. And the press says… no big deal. This isn’t New Orleans, of course, but a tragedy even more awful: the violence in Sudan. In a brutal reminder that some lives are worth more ink than others, the press has mostly ignored a statement from Richard Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, in which he scolds the Bush administration for failing to follow up on its declaration that the Sudanese civil war constitutes genocide. “It is time to move the Darfur genocide from a talking point to an action item,” said Cizik in a press release that seems to have vanished into the ether.
There’s been a slow-but-steady drumbeat of below-the-fold stories about evangelicals crossing traditional left/right lines, particularly with regard to environmentalism and international human rights. The Revealer has been skeptical — many of these stories reflect the lazy desire of reporters to get a “Used to go this way, now it goes that way” story. They don’t ask hard questions, and, worse, sometimes give good spin to efforts that more political than they at first appear.
But the Save Darfur Coalition seems like the real deal. And when Rich Cizik, a long-time veteran of Christian conservative politics and a man known as honest broker, declares that the Bush administration is falling down on the job, that’s news. Because genocide should always be news; and because American responses to international atrocities are determined by domestic politics. Cizik’s announcement should be heard as a seismic rumble. Christian conservative activists are growing more and more frustrated with the Bush-led G.O.P., not just on issues such as abortion, where Bush strikes them as too liberal, but on issues that cross party lines. Like, you know, stopping the murder of half a million people.
Here’s the press release:
One Year after Bush Administration Declared Darfur Violence a ‘Genocide,’ Progress is Minimal, Evangelical Official Says
Contact: Sean Crowley for the National Association of Evangelicals, 202-478-6128, 202-550-6524 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 /Christian Wire Service/ — Since the Bush Administration declared that the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan amounted to genocide one year ago (September 9, 2004), it has made minimal progress protecting millions of victims of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. That’s the conclusion of an official for the National Association of Evangelicals and the Save Darfur Coalition — http://www.SaveDarfur.org — an alliance of more than 130 faith- based, humanitarian and human rights organizations committed to protecting the civilians of Darfur. Together, the organizations united in the Save Darfur Coalition represent more than 130 million Americans.
“It is time to move the Darfur genocide from a talking point to an action item. President Bush must put this issue on the top of his inbox,” said Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. “The more the American people learn about the suffering, devastation and killing, the more they are demanding that our president turn his words into action. America has been the world’s conscience and halted genocide when it raised its evil head in Europe. We have a moral obligation to do the same in Africa.”
Since February 2003, government-sponsored militias known as the Janjaweed have conducted a calculated campaign of slaughter, rape, starvation and displacement in Darfur. It is estimated that 400,000 people have died due to violence, starvation and disease. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and more than 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad. Many now live in camps lacking adequate food, shelter, sanitation, and health care.
“While the Bush Administration has displayed some leadership in this humanitarian crisis, it has not done nearly enough to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in Darfur,” concluded David Rubenstein, coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition. “If every American citizen understood how serious this crisis is, they would demand that our leaders take action to save our brothers and sisters in Darfur. Our government needs to hear from concerned American citizens about the need to step up its leadership and march the world towards peace in Darfur.”