Every evening I died, and every evening I was born again, resurrected.
The Narrator, Fight Club
I think any day that starts with a quote from Fight Club has a good chance of being a good day. Since I have committed myself to write every day, I thought I should put up a blog post every day. Then I can be held accountable by more than myself. Because that works so well.
Every day we are given a new chance to make a difference for someone else. I cannot guarantee that I will but I can at least try. Today I am going to write about genocide prevention. This will include a post and an op-ed. I am working on getting localities around the nation to pass ordinances against genocide. It sometimes feels like that opposition to such a thing should be the default setting but it isn’t. When the Allies discovered the concentration camps throughout Europe after WWII, they promised, “Never Again.” That is a promise we have yet to fulfill.
Stony Brook is a lovely place to change the world
As I sit here in Stony Book, one person who took that promise seriously sits in jail in Kigali. Yes, I am talking about Paul Rusesabagina. His “trial” started this week. No one expects it will be fair. I just wish Don Cheadle would speak up. I mean he is in a very unique position here. I wish he would speak up, sign and share this petition.
Off I go to make a difference in the world…
For more uplifting reading, you might want to check out This is how genocide starts. I wrote that about Donald Trump. I thought I was being overly pessimistic. Well, the world has caught up with me and Genocide Watch put up a piece about the “big lie” (that the election was stolen) and compared it to the stages of genocide. My piece was ahead of its time.
I have been doing a lot of writing of late. Every day, I log into JokeZoom and do their brainstorming tool. I write every day.
A few weeks ago, I started a consulting job with No Business with Genocide and the International Campaign for the Rohingya. I have also been doing everything I can to raise awareness of what has happened to Paul Rusesabagina. The west has to do more to help him.
And then this feel more like a confessional than a blog but whatever. In 2001, I took a job at the United Nations. I was in the UN Information Centre in Washington, DC. Many people pronounce that work “UNIC” but that sounds a little too close to eunuch and that doesn’t seem like the right word for that agency.
My job was to promote the work the UN did to American media. This office was part of the office of the Secretary-General. I had access to a host of reports from all over the world. Some of the most upsetting came from Africa. The Congo was a site of a lot of horrors then.
Let’s go back a bit. In 1992-1994, I was obsessed with Bosnia. When I lived in France (1991-1992) I read a lot about Bosnia. I moved to Washington, DC in 1992 and apparently I talked about Bosnia so much that my friends got mad at me. One said, “You have to stop talking about that. They call this “happy hour” not “sad hour.” Ok, then.
My dance card for atrocities was full when I read about Rwanda. I knew something was happening there. Something bad but I was overwhelmed by Bosnia. I am not going to lie. I have to wonder if that was some inherent racism inside me. That I cared more about Europeans being slaughtered rather than the Africans.
So, there I was sitting at my desk, reading about families jumping into crocodile-infested waters to escape rebels, finding the UN offices and compounds were surrounded by desperate people and the UN could do nothing and hearing tales of faxes received during the 1994 genocide that were allowed to fall behind furniture to avoid dealing with their contents… well, the guilt I felt was overwhelming. I cared so much about Bosnia but never lifted a finger for Rwanda.
Later, Kofi Annan, (SG when I was there but head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 1994) said his actions or inactions during the genocide were his worst failures. I think he was a great man but he is right. When I watch Hotel Rwanda, Didi Myers words about “acts of genocide” in Rwanda haunt me. I also like Bill Clinton but he failed here. Moreover, Anan and Clinton’s failures in 1994 led to their quick embrace of Paul Kagame.
I used to say that the war in Rwanda in 1994 didn’t really end in 1994, it just moved next door. Nevermind that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and is leader Kagame, was a major force in Congo. I still wanted to think Kagame was the hero of the 1994 story.
Nevertheless, I also thought the world needed to pay better attention to the situation in Congo. I can admit this now, I would have gotten in trouble back then. I sent out press releases about what was happening in Congo relentlessly. Finally, a reporter in Denver said she would write something if I stopped sending them.
Today, as I sit in an idyllic place and I am still writing about Rwanda. While I am in Stony Book, Paul Rusesabagina sits in a jail in Rwanda where is has been charged with a myriad of serious crimes, including terrorism. Paul is a U.S. resident and Belgian citizen. He never should have been brought to Rwanda where he has been denied medication, access to his lawyers and t the documents he needs to work out his defense.
If you have read this far, please go a step further with me and read, sign and share this petition. Oh, and if you want to Tweet @DonCheadle to see why he is so quiet about this, that would be awesome. I ask only as me, not as the rep of any organization. The anger at him is all mine.
This letter was left in the resolute desk by the outgoing president to the incoming president.
Hey, Sleepy Joe;
You did it. You stole the election from the real Americans. Did you know that 75 million real, decent, hardworking American citizens voted for me? That is more than any other sitting president has ever gotten. Ever! George Washington’s ghost was here last night and he said even he couldn’t get that many people to come out! And he was the president smart enough to take the airports to win the Revolution! He won the revolution with the planes and only four people showed up for his Inagural!
Did you see my crowds in Georgia? When you were hiding in your basement, I was talking to tens of thousands of unmasked patriots! And not as many caught the China virus! Only a few died! You never could have won that state without cheating! They LOVE me there! Rudy tells me that every day! And no one knows cheating like Rudy! He can smell out cheaters! They all smell like me!
Sleepy Joe, I did things no other president — no, things no other person has done before! I put America first! I built a long beautiful wall! I added 12 miles of wall! Sure the border is two thousand miles long but those were the most vulnerable 12 miles! Ask Steve King! All of the caravans were headed for those 12 miles and I closed ’em up! And Mexico will pay! I sent them the bill just yesterday!
During my beautiful administration, the most beautiful ever, we didn’t start any new wars overseas! We put America first so we only started wars here! Look at the Capitol! When has it ever been so full of military? Never! I am so loved — more loved than anyone in history. I am so loved that patriots tried to kill my vice president! They must have known he was a pussy before I did!
When I took office four years ago, all I saw was American carnage. Now, you have 400,000 less people to worry about and that number is growing. The China virus was a hoax but we got vaccines! Beautiful vaccines.
Goodbye, Sleepy Joe. Drink some coffee, you’ll need it.
President Donald J. Trump, the greatest person to ever live.
It is easy to look at problems like genocide and think that it is too big to tackle, too depressing to think about, and too much to handle. That is unfortunate because there are things we all can do. We can refuse to buy from companies that benefit from genocide. Kirin Beer, for example has a huge contract with the Burmese Army, which is active in killing Muslims and Christians throughout Myanmar. We can write letters to the editor when we read stories about it. We can let our elected representatives know how we feel.
Today is “International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime” or “Genocide Prevention Day.” Accordingly, I wrote about Paul Rusesabagina who is a kidnap victim and is being held in Kigali on trumped-up terrorism charges.
You don’t have to kidnap real criminals
If a government approaches the United States with evidence that a criminal lives within the U.S., there is a legal process that is followed to allow American legal authorities to evaluate the evidence and act accordingly. This has been followed in the case of at least four Rwandans who were deported back to Rwanda. Had President Paul Kagame had any real evidence against Paul Rusesabagina, he could have presented it to American officials and if they deemed it credible, they would have sent Rusesabagina back to Kigali.
You can read about how ICE enforced this here and here. While the “evidence” against Rusesabagina is dubious (at best), Kagame human rights record is pretty clear. People who oppose him suffer. According to a U.S. State Department report, issued in 2019, people who disagree with Kagame are killed, disappear, and/or are tortured.
Paul Rusesabagina is a U.S. permanent resident (lives in San Antonio, Texas) and a Belgian citizen. The Rwandan government has no jurisdiction over him. Legitimate governments with legitimate concerns do not resort to kidnapping people.
As we commemorate the prevention of genocide, the time has come to free this hero. You can read more here.