The Best Oprah Moment

I was reading an article today about new shows coming onto the airwaves this fall and the shows that are returning. It said that returning shows will doing something “big” in order to reattract viewers. One of the biggest examples of this was when Oprah gave everyone in her audience a new car. It wasn’t just a big moment for TV, but it was also a philanthropic move on Oprah’s part because her producers sought out people who really needed a car to fill their audience with. The person who wrote the article said that this was the single greatest moment in Oprah show history. I disagree.

There have been a lot of moments during an Oprah show where I have been reduced to tears. There has only been one where I had to pause my Media Center and lay my head down on my desk and just weep. It was about two girls who are Rwandan and survived the genocide of the Tutsis’. One night a group of Hutu soldiers invaded their village and their hut. These two girls escaped out of the back and climbed into the trees for safety. They stayed there all night and listened to the sounds of their family and friends being slaughtered.


After the violence was over, these girls walked several days until they found a refugee camp. They slept during the day and walked all night as to not be found. If they were found they surely would have been brutally gang-raped and then slaughtered. They stayed in the refugee camp and then came to America where they were adopted by a loving family. Here they received an education and found peace at last.

They were on the Oprah show discussing their story a couple of years back. After they told their story on a show about the Rwandan genocide, Oprah told them that their parents had not been killed, they were still alive and the producers of her show and found them and brought them to America. They also had had more children since the genocide. Watching these two girls run into the arms of their parents they presumed dead for over a decade was the single greatest moment in Oprah show history. Just remembering it now brings tears to my eyes.

I think all the people who were lucky enough to get a car that day can agree, that even though they so desperately needed these cars, those two girls reuniting with their parents they were convinced were dead and meeting their brothers and sisters for the first time, far outweighs someone else purchasing you some much needed transportation.

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Save Darfur

Of all the incompetencies and failures of the Bush Administration, I think the failure to act on behalf of the people of Darfur is the biggest and most negligent of all. It’s depraved indifference at it’s best (or worst).

The Geneva Convention states once the American government declares a situation a genocide it is duty-bound to act. And yet, the Bush Administration has done nothing. Oh yes, President Bush has made a few speeches condemning the actions of the Sudanese government but nothing more. We all know that making a speech doesn’t take the machetes and machine guns out of the hands of the Janjaweed as they systematically torture, rape, hack down, and burn villages, some as large as 20,000 people, to the ground.
America is not just a country, a geographical space on a map. It is an idea. It is an ideal. It’s time to ask ourselves who we want to be as a people. The Darfurians regard America as their last hope. And yet we have sat by and down nothing. Where are the nightly news reports about the genocide in Darfur? Why isn’t this front page news? How can we sit by and do nothing while we condemn the Germans who sat by and did nothing while the Nazis eliminated the Jews?
Since 2003, Sudan’s Arab government and its Janjaweed militias have been destroying villages and displacing, raping, torturing, and killing Darfur’s black African citizens. Experts estimate as many as 450,000 PEOPLE, human beings, have been brutally murdered (the most common way has been to hack them to death with machetes or burn them alive), and 3 million people are displaced and living in refugee camps that lack water, food, shelter, while they depend on humanitarian aid. These people are not soldiers. They are ordinary citizens of a country that has betrayed them. They are men and women, children, and babies.
As soon as I learned of the genocide, I joined Save Darfur and receive regular e-mails from them. In the few years since, it seems like nothing has changed. I have written numerous letters to my elected officials, I’ve donated money, I written papers and done presentations in class about Darfur, and yet nothing changes. I don’t ever want my children to look at me in the future and ask me why I didn’t do anything to stop what was going on. I feel like I’ve done everything, short of leaving my family and volunteering with the aid workers, that an ordinary American citizen can do.
My recommendation is that every should see the movie “The Devil Came on Horseback” and visit the websites http://www.savedarfur.org/ and http://www.globalgrassroots.org/.