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U.S. can’t ignore genocide

After the atrocities of the Holocaust, the world made a promise. Never again was our simple declaration. Never again would we turn a blind eye to the injustice and devastation of genocide and inhumanity.
More than 60 years later, we have done just that. Repeatedly in the 20th and 21st centuries, America and the rest of the world have turned the other cheek to the multiple genocides and injustices perpetrated across the world and especially in Africa.
From Rwanda to Sudan, from child soldiers to widespread torture, a whole host of horrific crimes have been committed with the full knowledge of the West and the world.
Perhaps the worst of these is genocide.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered because of the world’s unwillingness to act. As members of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth, we as Americans are largely to blame.
Our apathy and indifference towards these crimes are inexcusable. The crimes committed by Saddam Hussein’s regime do not even begin to compare to the current crisis in Darfur alone.
The United Nations and African Union have made several half-hearted attempts to put a stop to the violence, none of which have succeeded. It seems the only time these organizations will act is when Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan largely responsible for the crimes being committed there, gives them permission.
Energy-hungry China and Russia only complicate this problem by supporting the genocidal regime in Darfur, because of the oil they are sitting on. Their willingness to somehow look past the mass murder being perpetrated in Darfur is matched only by the United States’ apathy.
But if you turn on CNN or watch the nightly news, rarely will you see anything about Darfur, al-Bashir or the general indifference that dominates America’s mindset. 
As senseless mass murder, rape and pillage occur half-way around the world, here in the U.S. we pause only to see what Britney and Paris’ latest problems are.
For many, genocide is not worth pausing for. We go out and buy big screen televisions and top-notch computers while those in Darfur and across Africa struggle every day to stay safe and fed.
F.D.R once asked us if our neighbor’s house was ablaze, would we lend him our garden hose to put out the fire?
Well America, our neighbor’s house has burnt down and he is out in the cold. Will we not lend him a helping hand and assist him in rebuilding his house? Will we not give him food and a blanket? Or will we ignore him as we have for decades?
The answer our leaders have given is indisputably the latter. Politicians have followed the media’s example and simply dropped the ball and turned their attention elsewhere.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama have promised to place troops in Darfur if they are elected.
John McCain and Sarah Palin will not make this commitment.
Regardless of your political ideology, compassion and empathy dictate that these crimes must be stopped. We must come together, not as Democrats or Republicans, or even as Americans, but as people.
If McCain is elected, we must demand he change his position and send troops to Darfur, because that is the only way the killing will stop.
If Obama is elected, we must insist he follows through with his campaign promise of intervention immediately.
Darfur must be an issue this election cycle.
If ever there was a time to intervene and act unilaterally, it is now. Innocent people are dying every day. It is our responsibility as human beings to cast away our chains of apathy and do something.
So next time you hear the candidates talk about their plans to fix the economy, remember the millions in Darfur without a home, clean water or food.
More importantly think of the hundreds of thousands we were too late to save, and the hundreds of thousands more whose fate is in our hands.
Will we renew our pledge, our sacred promise to help those unable to help themselves? Or will we dilute our promise further and watch unresponsively as more senseless killing unfolds? Never again.
Mike Kittleson is a freshman AEP major from Byron. He is a Scout staff reporter.
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