The arrival of Paul Rusesabagina to campus elicited an enormous response from the student body. The Bowdoin Film Society has screened Hotel Rwanda every night this week, and will continue to do so through the weekend. Tickets for Mr. Rusesabagina's Common Hour talk ran out soon after tickets became available. Students rightly feel awe and admiration for the man who, abandoned by the world, risked his life fighting against the unspeakable horror that engulfed Rwanda over a decade ago.
Any student who attended a screening of Hotel Rwanda this week likely found herself overwhelmed by guilt over how Americans wallowed while thousands of Africans were slaughtered by hand.
It may be too late for us to stand behind Mr. Rusesabagina, but it is not too late for us to stand against the genocide of today.
The Sudanese government currently sponsors the Janjaweed militia in its terrorization of villages in the Darfur region of the Sudan. The violence in this region has displaced close to a million people from their homes. Many are in camps where there isn't enough food or water to sustain the multitudes of refugees. Women are raped on a daily basis. One hundred thousand people have already died. If left unchecked, the genocide will extend beyond blatant murder. For many, disease and starvation will finish the job the militia started.
Mr. Rusesabagina's visit to Bowdoin rightly prompts us to reflect on the horrors of the Rwandan bloodshed. But it should also spur us into action against the bloodshed going on presently. There are two easy things you can do today: read an article about genocide, and write your elected officials. It should not take a feature film 11 years after the fact to bring the issue of genocide to the forefront of our collective conscience.
As Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor and later inventor of the term "genocide," asked, "When the rope is already around the neck of the victim and strangulation is imminent, isn't the word 'patience' an insult to reason and nature?"