Letters To The Editor

Reality of Darfur far from Jackman’s claims

Rob Jackman’s column criticizing the idea of humanitarian intervention in Darfur, Sudan, is destructive for two reasons: He misrepresents the facts and he misrepresents the proposed solution. To begin with, he calls the genocide a civil war and a Muslim conflict. Both are untrue. The genocide in Darfur is a systematic, targeted destruction, carried out by militias sponsored by the Sudanese government.

Don’t believe me? Ask Colin Powell, former President Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, President Bush and a whole host of international experts who have called it genocide. Second, while there are Muslims in Darfur, it would be a gross misrepresentation to use religion as an explanation for the genocide, which, above all ethnic and religious claims, is about political power and autonomy.

But even more destructive than Jackman’s false facts is his misunderstanding of the proposed solution. The organizations and politicians who represent the majority of the movement to end the genocide are not calling for a unilateral invasion of Sudan. They are calling for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.

America has a major role in getting this to happen, but it involves diplomacy, not infantry. Jackman’s claim that America “has no right to stop this” is absurd. Sure we do. America should place more economic sanctions on Sudan, and private institutions like Northwestern should divest their holdings from companies doing business there.

These non-military actions will put economic pressure on Sudan, thereby increasing the likelihood that it will accept UN peacekeeping troops. Jackman proposes that we sit idly by while the people of Darfur are “murdered en masse, raped, pillaged and displaced from their homes.”

If that idea disgusts you, I strongly encourage you to visit wwww.nudac.org and sign the petition asking NU to divest all its holdings from Sudan. U.N. peacekeepers are the answer, but they will only arrive after economic pressure is levied.

– Janessa GoldbeckMedill seniorMember of NU Darfur Action Coalition, National Outreach Coordinator for STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, Former Daily columnist

Interview perpetuates negative stereotypes

We would like to respond to the “Aiding Africa” interview (Play, Feb 8). We ask readers to critically examine the negative implications of what was and was not reported in the interview.

Although we understand that the purpose of the article was to positively recount Mera Geis’ trip to Ghana, the resulting piece actually achieved quite the opposite. In concordance with many African members of the community, we have observed that Eimear Lynch’s interview piece served to do nothing but propagate the same myths that many Africans have worked hard to dispel.

First, we would like to contend with the use of insensitive language to describe aspects of the Ghanaian culture. Geis stated that she “de-wormed every kid that came near” her. Although she was working in a medical setting, the above sentence conveys to the reader a picture of Ghana being inhabited with nothing but infected and diseased children. The contentions that the food was “horrible” and tasted like “newspaper” and that she enjoyed “normal” food only when she returned home convey an image of African food being a culinary aberration that is not fit to provide adequate nutrition. Not everyone is obligated to like every food they come into contact with, but the use of inflammatory language to describe such cultural staples has upset many in the community.

At the very least, this interview was somewhat vapid, poorly constructed and did not serve to paint a holistic picture of Geis’ humanitarian intentions, whatever they might be. The only talk of her medical work is in the first paragraph. The rest of the interview chronicles her negative experiences. In the future we urge The Daily to consider that negative stories about African poverty, disease and violence are not the only African stories that exist.

Through active programming, the African Student Association aims to promote the African culture as positive, vibrant and progressive. For instance, this Sunday we have our annual winter fashion show highlighting African dance, fashion and music. All are welcome to attend. To Geis, Lynch and the editors at Play and The Daily: If anything, thank you for reminding us why our student group still has a purpose.

– Karen AttiahCommunication juniorAfrican Student Association vice president