Darfur Images Hard To Ignore, Until They're Ignored

darfur video - newsweek.JPGNewsweek has ventured into sort of different territory with this video slideshow featuring photos from Darfur, set against the song "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)"by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, efficiently combining the news pegs of Darfur, the holiday season and the anniversary of Lennon's death (the video was posted on Friday, December 8th). It's not exactly the most original idea to use the classic Lennon song against a sobering slideshow (see here and here and here) but damn is it effective. (Also effective: Putting your heavily-emailed international-edition article about how the death toll in Sudan is actually tens of thousands higher than State Department estimates in your national edition, which Newsweek did not).

A similarly sobering effort has shown up across the networks in an extremely effective ad for SaveDarfur.org called "Voices From Darfur" where testimony from Sudanese refugees is read by ordinary Americans (see below). No soundtrack necessary.

As you can see above, the ad is jarring, shocking, and gives a lot more airtime to the crisis in Darfur than it usually finds on network and cable news (for extra punch, it aired during the NBC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which probably quadrupled its total exposure ever). Darfur doesn't exactly have the highest profile, an ongoing crisis that is relegated to a dull hum in the background of the 24-hour news cycle. Still, it's somewhat surprising that the anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration Of Human Rights — today — has gotten so little play. This year's day has been dedicated to fighting poverty, with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour chiding rich nations for indifference to the struggles of developing nations (if them sounds like fightin' words, recall that last year Arbour used the day to criticize the U.S. for their slippery-slope stance on torture, policies of rendition and secret CIA prisons, prompting John Bolton to rebuke her right back). The point is, there are no shortage of reasons to remember and highlight this particular day, from Darfur to the Geneva Convention to human rights abuses around the globe (not unconnected, incidentally, to the climbing rate of imprisoned journalists worldwide).

Incidentally, it was only by going to SaveDarfur.org that I discovered that this weekend was to have been a weekend of prayer/awareness for Darfur in conjunction with International Human Rights Day, and surprisingly, where I found out about this: Nancy Pelosi guest-blogging on the site to commemorate the anniversary and speak out on American inaction in Darfur:

We cannot stand idly by as the Sudanese government continues its systematic destruction of the people of Darfur. We are compelled by the conscience of the world to put an end to this humanitarian disaster and restore dignity and hope to the Darfuri. If we do not, we betray our commitment as the protector of human rights, and risk compromising the very nature of our own conscience.

Pelosi's statement was picked up nowhere, as far as I can see; hopefully her sentiments will fare better. Happy anniversary.

This post has been modified from an earlier version at Eat The Press.

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