Who Wants to Be a Murderer?

  The election is less than two weeks away, the presidential debates are over, and most of us now know more than we ever wanted to know about what George W. Bush and Al Gore think about Medicare, education, and Social Security. But during the second debate, one issue came up that somehow escaped the notice of the pundits: the issue of genocide. Debate moderator Jim Lehrer brought up the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda -- an African holocaust that has faded into America's memory. Nearly a million Tutsis -- one seventh of the population -- were murdered in just 100 days by rival Hutus. The butchery makes the Nazis look like slackers by comparison. Vice-president Gore made sympathetic noises, but he conveniently overlooked the Clinton Administration's responsibility for this tragedy documented by several studies. Bush took the super-realist view that if America's national interests are not at stake, we should not send American soldiers to faraway places. But when it comes to genocide, doing nothing, or sending soldiers, are not our only options. And a recent surprise United Nations vote on Sudan proves it. For twenty years, Sudan's radical Muslim government has waged a holy war on the Christians of southern Sudan. Two million people have been starved or slaughtered. Enslaving women, burning crops, bombing elementary schools -- it's all in a day's work for Sudan's tyrants. It's Rwanda on the installment plan. For too long, Sudan's bloody rampage went unnoticed by the outside world. But then America's religious community went to work. We've spent the last three years lobbying Congress, petitioning the president, and pummeling the media with news of Sudan's bloody policies. This month a remarkable vote at the United Nations revealed that their message has hit home. Sudan expected to begin a two-year term on the UN Security Council. The African seat rotates, and Sudan's turn had come up. But instead of getting a seat, Sudan got a slap in the face: The UN voted to give the seat to Mauritius instead. As The Wall Street Journal noted, Sudan lost the seat thanks to the efforts of a small but determined band of citizens who showed the power of good ideas against brute force. The UN vote is good news because it shows the effect that America's religious community is having, even against a reluctant administration in this country. No, America can't be the world's policeman, and we ought not to risk the lives of our soldiers unless America's interests are at stake. But shouldn't we care deeply about, and use whatever means we have to stop, genocide? Shouldn't it be in America's interest to stop the slaughter of millions of people? A nation's greatness ought to be measured, not just by its gross national product, but by its willingness to be a force for good in the world. Loving our neighbors means not looking the other way when slaughter looms. Richard Neuhaus says democracy is both a gift and a task. And he's right. The antidote to atrocity is to take up the task. The cure for genocide is to unleash America's moral firepower on the tyrants of the world. And this is a message we need to keep making clear -- whether a Republican or Democrat wins the White House in November. In cases like these, we don't have to drop bombs, but we dare not keep silent.


Chuck Colson


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