Really Strange Bedfellows

  Ken Starr and Johnny Cochran are two of the best- known lawyers in America -- lawyers none of us could ever imagine on the same side of any issue. Politically, they're from opposite ends of the spectrum. But recently, they've come together, united by a moral issue that transcends politics and ideology. On Good Friday, just three weeks ago, former Reagan administration official Michael Horowitz and former Democratic congressman Walter Fauntroy were arrested after they chained themselves to the doors of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. Along with talk show host Joe Madison, they were protesting human right abuses against Christians and animists in the Southern Sudan. The abuses include torture, murder, and enslavement. It's estimated that since 1983 nearly 2 million Sudanese have died as a result of the government's war against its southern population. And that's why Horowitz and the others are working to increase the pressure on this African nation. As Horowitz told the press, "people are still being tortured, enslaved and murdered," and some 3 million Sudanese face starvation. In this case, Johnny Cochran is representing Horowitz, a conservative Republican, while Ken Starr represents Fauntroy and Madison, liberal Democrats. And they insist that instead of paying a fine, they will go to trial to publicize their cause. The goal, as Starr describes it, will be to "attest to the atrocious conditions that exist in the Sudan, the conditions of slavery and murder, genocidal conditions that should be getting the attention of all individuals around the world." To all who would call the cooperation between Starr and Cochran unusual, Joe Madison says, in effect, "you haven't seen anything yet," and he describes what he's calling "a coalition of conscience." The coalition, says Madison, will include "the Dick Armeys and the Charlie Rangles" along with "the Al Sharptons and the Oliver Norths of the world." The message to the government of Sudan is, "you can't run to the left and find sympathy, and you won't be able to run to the right to find sympathy either." Well, supporters of Sudan won't find sympathy anywhere. Just last Thursday, President Bush, in a powerful and dramatic message, put the United States squarely against the persecution of Christians and trafficking in slaves in Sudan. He called Sudan a "disaster area for all human rights." This is a major change, since, for the past eight years the Clinton administration was silent on the issue of persecution in the Sudan. Mr. Bush also has appointed a personal representative who will be a tough negotiator with the African nation. This is the kind of "bipartisanship" we can all applaud. It's one that says political differences are irrelevant in the face of great evil. It acknowledges that with some issues, right and wrong are so clearly defined that there are no compromises to be made and no differences to split. In an era when the line between good and evil is often blurred, this "coalition of conscience" reminds us how important it is to unite on the side of good. Horowitz, Starr, Cochran, Fauntroy, and now President Bush have taught us a valuable lesson: Calling evil by its proper name not only enables us to oppose it, but brings us together in ways politics alone could never do.


Chuck Colson


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