Americans Reluctant To Help Fake-Sounding "Darfur"
As awareness of the Sudanese region of Darfur and the problems with genocide there slowly begins to build -- especially with the recent call to arms by celebrities to pay attention to it because there are no good movies out now -- Americans are beginning to understand more about the troubled region, and President Bush reportedly almost pronounced the word yesterday morning in one of his phonics sessions, according to aides. But polling suggests most aren't quite yet ready to help.
Why the reticence? Many say they are wary of the nation's name -- invented when one of the early settlers of the region sarcastically answered a friend's question concerning what the lining of his jacket was made of -- which sounds "like something somebody made up".
"The last thing I want to do is give my hard-earned time and attention to a place that George Lucas created, and that's exactly what Darfur sounds like," said Minnesota resident Phil Pontley. "If these liberal Hollywood types think that I'm going to pay money to see another Jar Jar Binks, they have another thing coming."
"That name is disgusting," said Pontley's wife Jill bluntly. "They really need to change it to something less un-American before I'll even consider thinking about it."
Some polled are even cautious of the entire Sudan area, which one person called "a little too close to Iran."
Americans are not averse to giving charity; donations swelled for both the domestic Hurricane Katrina aftermath as well as the tsunamis that devastated residents in Indonesia and the surrounding areas, and Jesus himself is often enlisted to help with odds and ends throughout the globe via the prayers of a few citizens. But Darfur is unfortunate in that it is not experiencing a natural disaster of any kind, which are easier for many people to understand.
"You really can't argue with a hurricane or a tsunami -- they come and leave and people get hurt," said Dr. John Malthius, professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. "But say the word 'genocide' and people's eyes just start glazing over. It's boring, plain and simple, and it's really a shame that there aren't any large, active volcanoes in Darfur."
Activists attempting to draw attention to their cause have considered renaming Darfur to "Bradgelina-arfur" or "American Idol II", but are concerned for the citizens' privacy and rights.
"Being under the rule of a genocidal regime is bad, but I'd hate even more to see a Darfur man end up on the front page of Star or Us Weekly," said actor George Clooney, one of the main proponents of Operation: Get Darfur Laid (With Help And Support). "Having supermarket shoppers wonder if he really is cheating on that cute girl with the one arm and the barbed wire fence on her forehead is a fate worse than death."
Darfur enthusiasts also say that the media must do a better job of drawing attention to the situation, but many -- especially those responsible for local news, which is where many citizens get their dose of what's happening in the world -- say that's just not possible given the vast cornucopia of other pertinent news to cover.
"Our top story tonight: gas prices. They're still pretty high," began the news at one local Philadelphia station. "We'll see if people are happy or sad about this after the break."
Fortunately, there is evidence that a small but growing portion of Americans are beginning to dedicate more thought to Darfur; a few polled even discussed possible solutions to the crisis.
"We ought to just send some troops over there," opined one Tennessee man. "They need to be straightened out with a taste of Operation: Iraqi Freedom, only with 'Darfi' instead."
"Ah hell, it's all the same, anyway," he clarified after a moment.
Josh Righter is an editor at enduringvision.com.