On the other hand are a growing group of Americans, a ragtag band of citizen activists all over the United States who want the phrase Never Again to mean something. They want the first genocide of the twenty-first century, Darfur, to be the last. Led principally by Jewish, Christian, African-American, and student groups, they have slowly begun to organize. Yet far more needs to be done to overcome the institutional inertia in U.S. policy circles. These groups are joined by an even smaller but determined core of citizen activists in other countries who are trying to build a global civil society alliance to confront crimes against humanity.
Who wins this battle will determine the fate of millions of people in Darfur and other killing fields.
That is our mission.
A Citizens Movement to Confront Mass Atrocity Crimes
Our friend Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has written about a citizens army fighting to save millions of lives in Darfur. After describing some of the extraordinary efforts of ordinary citizens around the country, including fund-raising by young American kids, Nick wrote, I dont know whether to be sad or inspired that we can turn for moral guidance to 12-year-olds.*
Well, we are inspired.
Samantha Power has written about the bystanders who do nothing when genocide occurs and the upstanders who act or speak out in an effort to stop the atrocities from continuing. Her book highlights the upstanders and bystanders of the last century. We all have the capacity to be upstanders. The more of us there are, the better the chances that these kinds of crimes will not be allowed to occur in the twenty-first century.
It is up to us.
For us, Don first got interested in these issues through the movie he made, then through connecting up with John, who had gone through his own process of growing awareness and discovering a whole universe of Americans who are getting involved and trying to make a difference. We want to show that it is possible to care enough to change things. We want to remove all excuses and impediments to individual action, because such actionscollectivelydo make a difference.
Throughout American history, social movements have helped shape our governments policy on a variety of issues. Often in the beginning, their appearance was not widely recognized as much of a movement. We believe we are witnessing the birth of a small but significant grassroots movement to confront genocide andwe hope, over timeall crimes against humanity wherever they occur. A campaign like ENOUGH is but one manifestation of that effort, and we describe many others later in the book.
Student groups are forming on hundreds of college campuses (and hundreds more high schools) specifically to raise awareness and undertake activities in response to the genocide. Synagogues and churches are holding forums and starting letter-writing campaigns all over the country. National organizationssome faith-based, some African-American, some human rightsrelatedare running campaigns in every city. Celebrities are getting involved, taking trips and speaking out against the genocide. After all of the hollow pledges of Never Again dutifully made by politicians and pundits, networks of concerned Americans are taking matters into their own hands and demanding policy makers do more to end the crisis in Sudan.
One of the best things about this growing movement is that it is nonpartisan. So much of the venom that marks Washington these daysthe red state/blue state dividehas been set aside. We always hear how politics makes strange bedfellows. How strange it must have been for some of the conservative evangelical members of Congress to find themselves agreeing with some of the most liberal members the Congress has ever seen!
Excerpted from NOT ON OUR WATCH by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. Copyright 2007 Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.
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