Monthly Archives: November 2007

Bono in Africa (with Brian Williams)

Bono in Africa

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In an effort to help readers get a little more clarity on issues concerning Africa, I’ve enlisted the help of Bono. I suppose he can be considered a provocative icon when it comes to African causes, however the trends and results of what he’s worked on are positive and pretty much indisputable. 

This is certainly not intended to be an “African Gospel according to Bono”, but I do hope it helps folks to see that Africa may not be the mysterious, hopeless place they thought it was. But instead, a vibrant, eclectic “King of the Continents”, filled with abundant resources and limitless possibilities.

Projects like (Red) and ONE.org have been successes. These are groups of people from around the world leveraging governments to create programs that rely on accountability.  

Darfur Now

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We see and hear something about the horrific conditions in Darfur on an almost daily basis. So why do these reports become background noise to us, like the previous day’s NHL scores? Are we over-saturated? 

Maybe its the distance. Those faraway events we can brush off as, “It’s not in our backyard so it doesn’t affect us”. 

Maybe it’s the “they don’t look like us” rationale.  206darfur11.jpg Maybe the clothing looks too Arabic so we have no sympathy. Maybe the skin is too dark so we supress empathy. 

Maybe Africa is just a blur. Sudan, Somalia, Swaziland; who knows where they all are anyway?

Or maybe we figure we’ll just leave it to these folk$…

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Can’t they just throw a few million that way and make everybody happy?

 

There are many reasons we choose to ignore the situation in Darfur. And all of them are wong. Genocide is happening on OUR WATCH. Until September 9th, 2004, when then Secretary of State Colin Powell declared it, the United States had never stamped “Genocide” on any conflict while it was still occurring!

Genocide, as in: The deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group.

This isn’t a retrospective. This isn’t a history lesson. This isn’t, “if we only knew sooner we could have done something”. This is “ethnic cleansing” on the scale of Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Biafra.

Are we going to let it get to the level of the Holocaust?

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I saw the film, “Darfur Now”, tonight. I had read what some movie critics had to say about it. For the most part they thought it a valiant effort that falls short of truly inspiring and truly enlightening the viewer in the details, history and players.

I’d only agree in the sense that it can’t possibly disect all of the complex issues leading to this horrific slaughter. It seems to grow more complicated each day with multiple players and their policies, politics and passions….

The bureaucratic UN Security Council, the not-powerful-enough International Criminal Court, the sincere celebrities, the orphaned children, the vicious Janjaweed, the disengenuous Sudanese government, the flame-fanning Chadian government, the sanctioned policy of scorched earth and rape, the tireless World Food Program, a multitude of caring NGOs, the suppression of factual information.

All of it, good and evil, transacted with a currency of innocents. So much to loathe, so many to save.

Did you know that most, if not all, of the people that were driven out of their homes, villages, and lives were not poor desert dwellers, already subsisting on NGO charity and living amidst much suffering?

These were hard-working, tight-knit communities. They loved their homeland. It flourished with crops and other resources. They contributed positively to our planet. But now estimates show approximately two million are displaced, living in some 160 camps. Now, backed into these corners they are determined to fight or die. Sadly they are up against their own government that should be protecting them.

The movie I saw was not a feel-good story. There was no happy ending. It was more like an extended news feature than a feature film. It should be a must-see for everyone. I was disappointed that it is showing in only one small theater in the Phoenix metro area, and even more appalled that I shared the theater with only 5 other movie-goers.

Hopefully after it’s “pay-per-view” run it will be seen in high schools, churches and universities. The movie is as engaging as they come. It’s flaws are not enough to pan it. It’s perfection is simply that it’s here to see.

To paraphrase one of the main subjects of the film…We must help Darfur to resemble the rest of the world, or within 25 years the rest of the world will resemble Darfur.

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Back to the Dog

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I missed Duane “Dog” Chapman’s appearance on Hannity & Colmes last night…actually I never wanted to see it in the first place. However, just like having to gawk at a car wreck, I took a peek at a follow-up article on msn.com.

And there it was. I tip my cap to his “handlers”. With enablers like Hannity, et. al, I would say ol’ Dog should be canonized as the “real victim” (checking my watch) any minute now.

Maybe I’m giving too much credit to “Dog”, a disingenuous, ex-Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman, for a mea-culpa strategy that was clearly disingenuous and ex-vacuum-cleaner-salesman-like.

All I’ve heard from Dog and his soul confessors are the apologies and explanations and excuses for his misuse of the “N” word.

Case in point are these quotes from his appearance on Hannity & Colmes….

“I thought that I was cool enough in the black world to be able to use that word as a brother to a brother,” he said. “I’m not. I didn’t know really know until three or four days ago what that meant to black people.”

“I now learned I’m not black at all,” Chapman said. “And I never did it out of hate.”

“All black people in America I owe an apology to,” Chapman said.

“Whether, how dark I think I am, I cannot say that word. I owe the rest of the people, whether they are black or not in America, an apology because people look up to me.”

“If I could kill myself and people would forgive me, I would do that,” he said.

In reference to his desire (now) to be buried at a historic slave burial ground near George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, he said, “I want to be buried right where they’re at because I will never be forgiven as (long as) I’m alive,” Chapman said.

“I referenced it, the only word I know, that would hurt his feelings or catch his attention very fast — never as a prejudicial or racial slur or anything like that,” Chapman said to Larry King.

Okay, get the picture? All of these quotes share the same purpose; minimize the damage to his career by focusing on the “N” word, and NOT on the racism that obviously permeates his personality. And why do that? Well, by focusing all the attention on the word, he can position himself as an innocent victim of his own perceived place in our culture.

If he always thought he was “cool enough” to use the “N” word “brother to brother”, why would he be freaking out by his son’s choice of a girlfriend? hmmmmm. He’s a racist exposed by his own hypocrisy.  

He didn’t even apologize to the woman he directly offended. Even after he decsribed her very specifically as a “f***ing n*****” in his rant. Monique Shinnery, the girlfriend, reports that it was Duane’s ATTORNEY that called to apologize. Not Duane. He’s too busy apologizing to you and I for the use of a word, and trying to save his gravy train.  

He’s focusing on the superficial and avoiding the true message, the true attitudes he exposed. The sad thing is all the Hannitys and O’Reillys and enablers (notice I did not say “forgivers”) will buy it, package it, and try to sell it to all of us. They’ll tell us how we are all over-reacting to a word that is seemingly okay to use by the hip-hop crowd but not anyone else. And once again they will be missing (or intentionally avoiding) the point.

Take another look at the full context of the call….

Duane “Dog” Chapman: I don’t care if she’s a Mexican, a w**** or whatever. It’s not because she’s black, it’s because we use the word n***** sometimes here. I’m not gonna take a chance ever in life of losing everything I’ve worked for for 30 years because some f***ing n***** heard us say n***** and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over! I’m not taking that chance at all! Never in life! Never! Never! If Lyssa [Dog’s daughter] was dating a n*****, we would all say ‘f*** you!’ And you know that. If Lyssa brought a black guy home ya da da… it’s not that they’re black, it’s none of that. It’s that we use the word n*****. We don’t mean you f***ing scum n***** without a soul. We don’t mean that s***. But America would think we mean that. And we’re not taking a chance on losing everything we got over a racial slur because our son goes with a girl like that. I can’t do that Tucker. You can’t expect Gary, Bonnie, Cecily, all them young kids to [garbled] because ‘I’m in love for 7 months’ – f*** that! So, I’ll help you get another job but you can not work here unless you break up with her and she’s out of your life. I can’t handle that s***. I got ’em in the parking lot trying to record us. I got that girl saying she’s gonna wear a recorder….

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You see, Dog is afraid that the REAL Dog will be exposed to the public. So who is it we’re watching on his A&E “REALITY” show? What is he trying to hide? Well, that’s pretty apparent now. It’s not the “N” word, it’s the fact that he does not want “n*****s” in the Chapman inner circle. He gives no credible reason to think otherwise.

Sure ol’ Dog, you have Black friends and a Black pastor! You can’t be a racist! Hell no. Look at what one of his son’s said in his defense and tell me this family is not a little off…. 

Christopher Hecht tried to defend his mulleted father by offering, “My dad’s not a racist man, if he was, he would have no hair, he’d have swastikas on his body and he’d go around talking about Hitler.”

More evidence into how this family (and sadly many others) thinks. I guess the only racists we have left out there are extroverted Nazis. 

Bottom line: He will not allow his sons or daughters dating, bringing home or-God forbid-marrying anything but an Anglo. Friends are different. They can lock ’em out at night.

It isn’t just about singling out a word, it’s about the meaning and the entire thought process.

The Bard wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.  In his rant, Dog could have NEVER used the “N” word or any offensive language, and still his racism would have been evident. It wasn’t the word, it was the message he sent to his son.  

And I think its time we scrape this Dog’s crap off our shoes.