Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Steven Spielberg saving Dafur?

Many of you must have heard the news of Steven Spielberg's withdrawal as Artistic Adviser from Beijing's 2008 Olympic games. And all of us have heard of Dafur and are doing very little about it. Hell some of us watched Rwanda from the beginning to the end of the genocide as the UN security council dilly dallied on whether it was an issue worth international intervention.

Some Africans have long given up on any help from else where and just wait for the miseries to run their course. It has made some very cynical and doubtful of the potential goodness of human beings especially foreign ones. There is growing concensus for self reliance.
Atleast in Rwanda, they learnt that lesson the hard way and they don't look outside anymore for help. 'If it comes well and good if not, then we may be better off without it'. That is their post genocide attitude. And I believe this is the attitude needed by all Sub Saharan countries, help is not going to come, if it does, it has massive strings attached to it. So you are better off with out it.

So when I heard that Spielberg had pulled out of the Beijing Olympics and many considered it a heroic move, I was very skeptical, isn't China's human rights record crystal clear and hasn't the genocide in Dafur been going on over the past 5 years?

This is what spielberg said for pulling out of the Olympics.

"I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual,” Spielberg said in a statement. “At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur.”

In his own defence he claims that he left the contract unsigned for a year hoping to see improvements in the situation especially by the efforts of the Sudan government that bears the bulk of the responsibility. According to him he anticipated the possibility of not signing the contract if things didn't go as he hoped.

Okay, why does this guy sound like a Presidential candidate? My first question when I heard of his withdrawal was, what was he doing there in the first place? I wish I could get a clear answer on that. If I didn't know better I would think that he knows little about the dynamics of a genocide. Did he really think that things could improve in time for him to sign his contract? Really?

The only way things could get better is, if like Rwanda, the genocide was quick and the survivors fled the region completely and the nation starts rebuilding immediately as in Rwanda's case. At which point, would would it be an appropriate time for him to sign the contract?

I initally thought I was being very harsh towards Spielgberg but my skeptism was confirmed by the fact that he had been continuously getting pressure from people like Mia Farrow who went in an all out shaming campaign about his participation in the Olympics.

In an Oped column this is what she wrote;

“Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?”

Full article

We do understand that people want to make a buck but at what cost? So should we consider Spielberg a hero for suddenly listening to his conscience?