Is anyone saving Darfur these days?
You might remember Darfur. Just a few years ago, it was all the rage. There were t-shirts, postcards, and tote bags. There was an Amnesty International compilation album with songs by U2, Jackson Browne, and the Black Eyed Peas. There were baby onesies. Celebrities were all about saving Darfur. In April 2006, thousands of people gathered on the National Mall to urge the Bush administration to intervene. Among the speakers was George Clooney, who a few months later addressed the U.N. Security Council on the subject. Speed-skater Joey Cheek donated his 2006 Olympic bonus money to the cause. In 2009, actress Mia Farrow carried out a twelve-day hunger strike in solidarity with starving victims.
Such passions were not misplaced. The death toll in Darfur since 2003 is somewhere north of 300,000, according to the United Nations. And that is on top of 2.2 million Sudanese wiped out by the government in the south of the country before the atrocities in Darfur began in earnest.
At the head of all of this has been Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, whose reign of terror my colleague Jay Nordlinger chronicled back in 2005:
This regime, in Khartoum, is almost unfathomably evil. Led by President Field Marshal Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, it is a military dictatorship that is also Islamist and terroristic. According to Freedom House, “the government of Sudan is the only one in the world today engaged in chattel slavery.” Khartoum waged a long “jihad” — Bashir’s word — against the south, featuring a terror-famine of the kind seen in Stalin’s Ukraine and Mengistu’s Ethiopia. . . . Sudan is so bad, it expresses an almost comic-book evil. In the southern genocide, one hospital was bombed five times; children were beheaded in front of their parents; the hungry were strafed as they gathered to await food drops. The government even ran a “death train,” in an almost willful imitation of the Nazis.
As Nina Shea wrote: “Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir should hang in the halls of infamy somewhere between Hitler and Pol Pot.”
But on Wednesday, the Paris-based Sudan Tribune reports, Ahmed Mohamed — wunderkind “clock”-maker and White House invitee — enjoyed a red-carpet treatment from the Sudanese head of state, even posing with him for a photograph. Here they are, a regular Garth and Wayne:
Ahmed’s detention was a nearly perfect tale: racial profiling, Islamophobia, a STEM-loving victim — and in the South!
Apparently the elder Mr. Mohamed — who from his home in Dallas, Texas has launched two unsuccessful presidential bids against Bashir — did not think it in any way unseemly to have his family pal around with a mass murderer. And apparently, none of the Mohamed family’s defenders in the media think so, either. Besides the Washington Post, no mainstream media outlets have yet mentioned the meeting, let alone condemned it.
#share#Who is surprised? For those fixated on identity politics, Ahmed’s detention was a nearly perfect tale: racial profiling, Islamophobia, a STEM-loving victim — and in the South! It mattered nothing that the tale grew steadily taller. The New York Times and CAIR and Hillary Clinton (et al.) had found a “victim” to serve their purposes. To an honest observer, it might be worth mentioning that that victim swaggers around with the monster responsible for 2.6 million victims. But when the story has been written, nothing can be allowed to upset it. From “victims” of sexual assault to “victims” of police brutality to “victims” of “Islamophobia,” the American Left choosing victims less according to reality than according to utility.
Ten years ago, the Left managed to select some actual victims: innocent Sudanese citizens being raped and slaughtered in Darfur. For some, that cause was a way of roughing up the Bush administration, but for many, it was a genuine concern; George Clooney continues to work on behalf of Sudanese victims.
One of the speakers at that 2006 rally on the National Mall was Illinois senator Barack Obama. Ahmed and his family will be visiting the White House on Monday. If the president can still tell what a real victim looks like, he might inform the Mohameds.