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Save Darfur Hits Bottom and Keeps Digging

August 17, 2009

It’s official! The Save Darfur Coalition has reached a new low in what they seem to think is advocacy. To be clear, what they actually do cannot reasonably be considered the work of competent advocates or even sentient beings. It’s plain ol’ stoooopid. (And the worst part?  Some of the staff know it but continue to participate anyway.  BUT DON’T JUDGE THEM!  They’re collecting big paychecks in exchange for little work. Nice work if you can get it.)  Here’s the email SDC activists received last week entitled “Vote on our next major move for Sudan”:

Dear _______,

Vote now to name
our new campaign:

1. Speak up for Sudan
2. Standing for Sudan
3. Don’t forget Darfur
4. Darfur: now more than ever
5. IDP—I Demand Peace

By voting your name will be added to our new petition.

Do world leaders think Darfur is saved?

President Obama still hasn’t released his peace plan. The U.N. Security Council, European Union, Arab League and African Union all keep dragging their feet on getting tough with Bashir.

And yet as violence in Darfur has dropped, violence in South Sudan has sky-rocketed. Just last week, new brutal ethnic violence killed at least 185 in the southern Jonglei State.

In one month, world leaders will come together in New York City to discuss humanity’s most pressing issues: but will they make peace in Sudan a priority?

Your vote now will decide the name of our September campaign to make sure they do just that and remember those forgotten in Sudan.

Through a massive display of images from Darfur, signs placed in your windows, and a global photo petition, we will make it impossible for world leaders to ignore those still teetering on the edge in Sudan.

We’re kicking the campaign off with a new petition to President Obama, but our success depends on your taking direct ownership of this campaign.

That’s why we’re asking you to vote now and decide the name of our September campaign.

This is a crucial moment in our struggle to bring peace to Sudan. Some experts believe the rise in insecurity in South Sudan could reignite the brutal war that killed over 2 million.

September will be our best chance this year to impact so many key world leaders. Our ability to leverage this critical opportunity depends on what you do today.

Please vote by Monday August 17th and add your name to our new petition to President Obama.

I look forward to finding out how you vote and will report back results early next week.

—Mark

Mark Lotwis
Save Darfur Coalition

P.S. If you know someone who cares about the people of Darfur, ask them to join us from the start by signing the petition and voting on the name of the campaign.

Donate to Help Save Darfur
Help build the political pressure needed to end the crisis in Darfur by supporting the Save Darfur Coalition’s crucial awareness and advocacy programs. Click here now to make a secure, tax-deductible online donation.

There’s no need to say it, I know what you’re thinking, accountabilibuddies — “HUH?!?! That email makes no goddamn sense. You either need to be a fool (highly likely) or genius (highly unlikely) to understand such seeming nonsense. I need help!”  It’s okay, I’m scared too.  So let’s try and sift through the email together.  Give me your hand and let’s begin with the subject line…

“Vote on our next major move for Sudan”

YAY! We get to play a meaningful role in deciding the way the Save Darfur Coalition will move forward. Sweet. Now for the email itself…hold on tight, we’re in for a wild ride…

Dear _______,

Hey, that’s me (or you as the case may be)! At least these knuckleheads got our names right.

Do world leaders think Darfur is saved?

How do I know what the hell “world leaders” think? I’m not even sure who the “world leaders” in question are.  As for “saved”…that seems a bit “simple”…if you get my drift. All of us know that Sudan will only be saved by the Sudanese. More appropriately, they will reach a political compromise that stabilizes the country. Do you think the Sudanese, upon hearing a political agreement has been reached, will celebrate “saving” themselves? Doubtful.

President Obama still hasn’t released his peace plan. The U.N. Security Council, European Union, Arab League and African Union all keep dragging their feet on getting tough with Bashir.

Umm. Okay…I guess. The Obama administration hasn’t made a “peace plan” available to the general public (or more importantly to Jerry Fowler or John Prendergast), but the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan does seem to be receiving sound reviews from many smart and committed advocates, from activists to academics to elected officials. I know, I know, the whacktivists are baying for Gration’s blood, but we know better than to let the lunatics run the asylum, don’t we? “Dragging their feet on getting tough with Bashir”? If you say so, but this seems more like overly propagandistic/militaristic rhetoric rather than thoughtful communication. Hyperbole is fun and easy!

And yet as violence in Darfur has dropped, violence in South Sudan has sky-rocketed. Just last week, new brutal ethnic violence killed at least 185 in the southern Jonglei State.

Violence in Darfur has dropped?! Then why does every other Save Darfur communication suggest otherwise? It’s hard to keep up with these schizophrenic paranoids…one day there’s a genocide…and the next it’s a semantic debate…one day there’s 400,000 dead…and now there’s…well…who knows what they’re saying this week. Anyone else get the sense Save Darfur will soon become Save Sudan?

In one month, world leaders will come together in New York City to discuss humanity’s most pressing issues: but will they make peace in Sudan a priority?

Again with the nameless “world leaders?”  “Humanity’s most pressing issues?”  Sounds important. So important, in fact, they didn’t even mention that what they’re referring to is the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting. Hey, if some SDC staff members don’t know where in the world the Hague is (yep, really), why would we expect them to actually know what “UNGA” (when pronounced by professional advocates it rhymes with “bunga”) is? As an American advocate for peace in Sudan, I certainly hope that U.S. representatives lead international attempts to support efforts for peace in Darfur/Sudan.  However, I know this is ultimately a Sudanese problem and only a Sudanese political solution can bring lasting peace to the people of that country. America cannot impose peace. (For examples, see Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Your vote now will decide the name of our September campaign to make sure they do just that and remember those forgotten in Sudan.

DO I LOOK STUPID TO YOU, MARK LOTWIS?! Your subject line was “Vote on our next major move for Sudan” and now I find out you just want me to vote on a campaign name?! Used car salesmen have got nuthin’ on you. Seriously. How in the name of all that is good and holy will my choosing one of five pre-determined names for a still yet-to-be-defined campaign “make sure” that “world leaders” will “make sure Sudan is a priority” and “remember those forgotten in Sudan”? Do you have chimps bangin’ on keyboards over there? I hope this isn’t the work of a human being, but I fear the worst.

Through a massive display of images from Darfur, signs placed in your windows, and a global photo petition, we will make it impossible for world leaders to ignore those still teetering on the edge in Sudan.

A HA! The goal of the “campaign” is to “make it impossible for world leaders to ignore those still teetering on the edge in Sudan,” and this will be accomplished through a “massive display of images from Darfur, signs placed in your windows, and a global photo petition.” Preposterous. Utter nonsense. It’s not a campaign. It’s a collection of useless awareness-raising tactics without a specifically-defined goal.  (FYI: Activists do little or nothing during the month of August. Smart money is on less then 10 percent of recipients even opened this email.) Save Darfur just failed Advocacy 101.

We’re kicking the campaign off with a new petition to President Obama, but our success depends on your taking direct ownership of this campaign.

Great. Yet another petition. Direct ownership? You’ve gotta be kidding me! Picking a poorly conceived name for an even more poorly conceived “campaign” is not direct ownership.  This is especially insulting to advocates because it shows that SDC doesn’t really trust them with making meaningful campaign decisions at all.  Rather, it’s patronizing, kinda like when a family gets a new pet and the parents decide what type of pet it will be, what breed, etc. but let their kids pick the name.  “Sure, Emily.  Your totally original and not-at-all-trite decision to name our new dalmatian Pongo was a huge contribution to the decision-making process.  You know you’re the reason Daddy drinks, right?”  

That’s why we’re asking you to vote now and decide the name of our September campaign.

Again with the voting?

This is a crucial moment in our struggle to bring peace to Sudan. Some experts believe the rise in insecurity in South Sudan could reignite the brutal war that killed over 2 million.

When was the last time SDC sent you an email that didn’t reference a crucial/critical moment and impending doom? Answer: As often as you receive an SDC email that doesn’t ask for your money — VERY RARELY.  And when every moment is critical, none are.

September will be our best chance this year to impact so many key world leaders. Our ability to leverage this critical opportunity depends on what you do today.

And when was the last time Mark Lotwis sent you an email that didn’t reference a “best/last chance”?

Please vote by Monday August 17th and add your name to our new petition to President Obama.

Aaahhh. NOW I GET IT! Save Darfur doesn’t want my “direct ownership,” they want my signature on their 1, 203,454th petition. Interesting. SDC is now requiring that activists pay a poll tax in the form of a petition signature. Very democratic. Why not allow dedicated long-time activists an opportunity to vote for the campaign name, but not sign the petition?  Come to think of it…why aren’t voting results more transparent? (My money is on DON’T FORGET DARFUR being the final choice, even though the “campaign” is aimed at making Sudan a priority. It’s just too incongruous to pass up.) It seems that SDC is much better at demanding democratic processes in Sudan than actually employing such processes themselves.

I look forward to finding out how you vote and will report back results early next week.

We will be waiting with bated breath, Mr. Lotwis. Any chance you’ll tell us how many votes were tallied for each proposed campaign name? I won’t hold my breath.

More on the proposed campaign names later. IDP: I DEMAND PEACE?!  Wow.  That’s one part wit and 100 parts ridiculous.


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