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Sunday Afternoon in the Park (with Zimbabwean Marimbas & Memorial Structure)

April 15, 2009

So the below email was distributed by the Save Darfur Coalition. Go ahead and give it read…

Dear __________,

Join the Save Darfur Coalition in Lafayette Park this Sunday, April 19! We’re bringing together survivors of past genocides, faith leaders, leading anti-genocide advocates and activists like you to call for urgent, sustained action to end the genocide in Darfur.

What: A memorial ceremony by survivors of seven genocides, including Darfur, to honor the lives that have been lost, followed by presentations by individual upstanders and leaders in the Darfur movement.

When: 2:00 – 3:00 PM this Sunday, April 19, 2009.

Where: Lafayette Park, across from the White House in Washington, D.C.

RSVP now to let us know that you’ll be there!

Don’t forget to bring a symbolic object to add to our memorial structure alongside those of survivors and other activists. Your object could be a photograph, a letter or any other token. At the end of the program, everyone will place their objects on the memorial in a demonstration of unity and commitment.

This Sunday, Darfur activists across the country are holding events to issue one message—that our government must use its full reach to end this crisis. Stand with us in our nation’s capital! Together we can show President Obama that the American people support engagement to help the people of Darfur.

Thank you for everything you’re doing.

Sincerely,

Catherine Wagner
Save Darfur Coalition

P.S. Objects placed on the memorial will not be returned. If you would like to use an object of personal worth, such as a letter or photograph, please consider using a copy.

Lemme see if I’ve got this right. The coalition is hosting a memorial service dedicated to past and current genocides as well as a rally to “show President Obama that the American people support engagement to help the people of Darfur.” Additionally, I shouldn’t forget my non-returnable “token” to place on the “memorial structure”. And according to a recent Tweet from Team Darfur, which is headed by Martha Heineman Bixby who is also a staff member at SDC, there will be Zimbabwean marimbas! (Does that mean Zimbabwe was the scene of a genocide? Because if not, I’m even more confused.)

Is it just me, or hasn’t President Obama already committed to “engagement” on Darfur in the guise of special envoy Scott Gration. Is “engagement” the coalition’s only policy “ask”? What, no more no-fly zones? And does a funereal genocide retrospective that is sure to draw hundreds rather than tens of thousands really inspire activists or provide an impetus to the current administration? (“Mr. President, none of your predecessors ever paid the ultimate political price for ‘managing’ or simply ignoring mass atrocities abroad. Some were actually damaged FOR intervening.”)

This exercise wreaks of confusion and desparation at best, and gross manipulation at worst. Is the Save Darfur Coalition beginning to hedge its bets away from Darfur and towards a boader anti-genocide organization committed to what Fowler calls the “Constituency of Conscience”, hence the broadening of the stage? We shall see…

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