The general population of the United States is in an eternal state of complacency. As the United States re-asserted attention on global issues in the 1930s, there was much resistance to shedding the comfort of isolationism.
Since that time, America has been a powerhouse in the affairs of the rest of the world. Despite the capability to influence world issues, an incongruity remains which plagues America; the U.S. government exerts its dominance and ideology into affairs of the rest of the world, while its citizenry remains content in its bubble of complacency.
From the early 1930s to the end of World War II, reports of violence against European Jews surfaced. America failed to do what was necessary to halt the coming Holocaust, despite the warning signs. Instead, we displayed our indifference and turned away refugees, hiding behind isolationism and the quota system.
One of the most famous victims of the Holocaust was Anne Frank, whose father tried to escape the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, but due to the quota system was denied access to a new life in the States.
Again in 1939, 900 Jewish refugees sailing aboard the St. Louis tried to escape to Havana, Cuba, only to be denied at the gates of freedom. The New York Times reported, "Yet all the 900 asked was a temporary haven. Before they sailed, virtually all of them had registered under the quota provisions of various nations, including our own. Time would have made them eligible to enter. But there seems to be no help for them now. The St. Louis will soon be home with her cargo of despair." These people were sent back to Europe to face a fate assigned by the Nazis.
More recently in 1994, the United States and other world powers ignored yet another genocide until it was again too late, this time in Rwanda. A reported 800,000 people were killed in only 100 horrific days.
Regardless of the publicized information regarding the atrocities, the United States did nothing to stop it until it was all but over. In 1998 President Clinton responded to the incident. He said, "Genocide can occur anywhere. It is not an African phenomenon. We must have global vigilance. And never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence."
However, the memories of Americans and the rest of the international community are short. Today in Darfur, the western-most province of Sudan, where the raping of women and children, the castration of men, and the genocide is highly publicized and documented, the United States and the world remains at arms length.
Countries such as the United States donate monetary and limited political support, which has proven to be inadequate.
The White House has reported that since the outbreak of violence in Darfur, the United States has provided nearly $2.5 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping assistance to that region.
In 2007, the United States provided more than 67 percent of the World Food Progamme’s food aid to Sudan, serving more than 6 million people throughout Sudan and eastern Chad.
But what good are food supplies when they are high-jacked or diverted after arriving in Sudan, and how will additional food protect them against raging bands of state-sponsored militia groups, as well as government forces who have systematically destroyed hundreds of villages and tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?
The general creed of the United States in this situation seems to be, "Poor Sudanese people who have nothing to offer the United States — sucks to be you; but here, let me give you a blanket and some food to help."
Like the spoiled rich kid of the world, we’ll throw just enough money your way, so we don’t feel too bad for the redheaded stepchildren of the world.
In reality, monetary aid, UN resolutions and minor media exposure is not going to be enough to halt this latest act of genocide.
What the world refuses to acknowledge is that aid, policies and peace talks will not deter a group of people who are willing and able to systematically kill and torture millions of people, just because they are of a different background or religion.
People who are willing to commit such atrocities, as have been witnessed in Darfur, will only stop if they themselves are stopped by force. But to apply such force means sending in an effective military presence to the region.
However, the United States remains preoccupied with the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continues to do what it does best: remain complacent about immediate life-threatening situations that do not directly affect America.
As an American citizen who likes to think of herself and her country as a moral beacon to the rest of the world, I am saddened we can tolerate such unnecessary atrocities and crimes to continue unabated. To quote Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."