Darfur: Where is the American black outrage?
What has been described as "the first genocide of the 21st Century" is raging in Darfur, a region in western Sudan the size of Texas. During the past two years more than 400,000 black African Muslims have been slaughtered and more than 2.5 million made homeless.
The perpetrators of this savagry are the so-called Janjaweed, government-sponsored Sudanese Arab militias whose rampages are clearly racially-inspired. A survivor of a Janjaweed raid told a New York Times correspondent that the raiders called her a slave, ridiculed her black skin, and told her that "we cannot let black people live in this land."
The racial component in this humanitarian disaster has been confirmed by other news reports, emphasizing the strong traditional bias of Sudan's Arabs against the nation's black people. What is happening in Darfur mirrors a similar campaign in recent years by Sudan's Arab Muslim regime against black Christians and animists in the southern part of the country.
The mystifying angle in this tragedy is that most Sudanese Arabs are themselves dark-skinned and would probably be considered Negroid elsewhere. But because of their Arab roots and much lighter skin, they regard themselves as racially superior to the fully African, black-skinned tribes of Sudan's western and southern regions. Despite Islamic doctrine that preaches ethnic and racial universality, it is evident that skin pigmentation is an important cultural element in some Arab societies.
Against the horrendous background of racial cleansing in Darfur, where is the outrage in the American black community? Where are the public rallies, boycott threats against Sudan, demands for international action, and other protest demonstrations?
Some African-American community leaders do participate in the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 100 human rights groups fighting to halt the butchery and aid the hapless Darfur people. Included in the alliance, not surprisingly, are Jewish organizations which see in the genocide in Darfur a dreadful semblance to the Holocaust.
But I am unaware of an angry outcry about Darfur by the most prominent African-American militants, notably Louis Farrakhan, Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Most striking is the apparent absence of Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, in the effort to defend fellow black Muslims in Africa. If these activists have expressed outrage at the massacres of African blacks by Arab militias, it has certainly been muted.
Ironically, Farrakhan, McKinney and, to a lesser extent, Sharpton and Jackson, continue to devote their energies to bashing Israel and promoting the Palestinian Arab cause. With little critical understanding of the issues in the Middle East, they and some other African-American spokesmen have simplistically demonized Israel.
Instead of continuing to depict the Israelis as colonial ogres oppressing Palestinian Arabs, they should focus on the more relevant issue of the genuine suffering of Darfur's Muslim black people at the hands of Sudanese Arabs.