OK, Spielberg didn't actually graduate from Arcadia, but he went there for a while, so it's close enough. Besides, ' Are all Arcadia High School ex-attendees such asshats?!' lacks panache. But it struck me today that his recent pull-out of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China is a bit, shall we say, douchebaggy?
My initial reaction to this story was that Spielberg was not going to get the skrilla that he expected for this gig, and made up this Darfur story as a cover. Then, after a little searching around, I found that this whole Darfur escapade is somewhat of a cause célèbre among the Hollywood attentionati. I'm sure that just about everyone who reads this blog (especially SheHawks Anonymous) is as familiar or more with the history and current sit-rep in the Sudan, but just to be clear, my understanding of the issue is as follows:
- There is an ongoing, bloody civil war between the Arab ruling class (associated with the government) and the black, Christian working class (often referred to as the rebels) in the large, sparsely populated, and oil-soaked western region of Darfur. A group known as the Janjaweed are involved somehow.
- The Arabs, depending on who you ask (UN says no, Clinton said yes), are essentially trying to eradicate the black African Christians. GENOCIDE. This conflict has been on and off for many years. Millions dead. Bad times.
- Sudan has some of the largest oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits in the world. The place is practically a goldmine for industrialists. Many, many industrialized nations want this shit, so they, with the government's blessing, have moved in and displaced a lot of people.
- Peeps (black African Christians) got pissed when told to get the fuck off of their land, and fight back. Arab-ruled government decides that they have to choke a bitch.
- The People's Republic China, which accounts for 40% of the Sudan's oil sales (more on this later), has gone against the grain of western politics and chosen to do business with a country whose government is incompetent at best, and absolutely corrupt at worst. President Clinton prohibited American companies from dealings with the Sudan, despite the fact that some American businessmen (i.e Friedhelm Eronat) have done so, anyway.
- Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, and a whole host of other celebrities decide that this is an issue for them to tackle. China is becomes the object of scorn, while the Sudanese government itself plays the 'See no evil, hear no evil' game and manages to largely avoid critique.
- Spielberg, who had previously been involved in some way, decides that he's going to take his ball and go home because a 6-billion-person nation will not drastically alter its foreign policy for a fucking movie director.
That's basically the broadstroke as I gather it. I'm sure there is more to this, but I doubt that it will be of much consequence to the central debate here, which is: Just who the hell is Spielberg, or anyone else, to expand the topic, to play the self-righteous fiddle here? As a nation who benefits from Iraqi and Venezualan oil, where does all of this holier-than-thou posturing come from? If China accounts for only 40% (some reports say more) of Sudan's oil output, where's the outrage over the nations that contribute to the other 60%? Why isn't the Sudanese government at the center of the ring here?
I'm pretty sure that this will generate at least a little discussion. And to make things short, I'll briefly expound my conclusion: Let's focus on our own country's foreign policy, and leave the rest to the U.N. babysitters. Unless the U.S is willing to take unilateral supercop tact, citizens of the good ol' US of A should direct their fame-seeking and perfunctory ire at either the Sudanese or American governments. If you are so upset by the China's Rick Neuheisel-esque approach to Sudan's transgressions, boycott Chinese goods. While your at it, boycott Great Britain, Sweden (no more IKEA, bitch), Germany (Volkswagens aren't so trendy now, eh?), France (that one my not be so hard for the Diesel), Austria, Canada (but, hockey rules!), Malaysia and Russia (mmmmmm.....pierogies).
The subtextual proposal that China - and China alone - is to blame for the killing of Sudanese by Sudanese is tragically ignorant. The conflict was quite active when Spielberg took the job to begin with; his snotty, hypocritical, and just outright perplexing actions surrounding this 'genocide'* will only force China inward, and that is the last thing that I believe any fair-minded American wants. I'm not China's biggest fan, but I realize that, for better or worse, our future in this country is immutably intertwined with the Middle Empire. I miss the "Free Tibet" people, at least the Chinese army was directly involved. Oh well, looks like China will have to opt for Señor Spielbergo.
* It is my opinion that the incendiary term 'genocide' is being misused in the case concerning Darfur. It seems that money and religion have more to do with the killing than race.
P.S. - I was going to post about how much of a waste Arlen Specter is but, well, too easy. Happy $7,830.00 in federal income tax to me.