Hotel Rwanda - Eleven Year Anniversary

I finally saw the "feel-good movie" of the year, Hotel Rwanda. Since a former professor of mine has been telling me for months to see it. It was completely moving, as I expected, and of course I shed many tears. It is amazing how weeping becomes an art form for me, every time I read or hear something sad, I learn how to cry all over again when I promised - perhaps the day before - that I will be "strong." Yeah, right.

My husband is out right now at Fountain Street Church (for those of you who have not heard of this, it is a free-thinking "church" that is basically aligned with the U.U. religion). He is hearing the awesome Robert Kennedy, Jr. speak about our environment. I once saw him on the terrifying show Hannity and Colmes (yeah, why do I torment myself and watch FOX news??) saying that he had enough mercury poisoning in his body that if he was a pregnant woman, his child would be born with birth defects.

Jeff went with his aunt, and I stayed home with the kids. I felt that I could at least afford him this evening since he is the stay-at-home dad. Being stuck in this house for nine hours a day would drive me batty, so I had no problem with him going. I was talking about Hotel Rwanda with his aunt before they went, and it got us talking about the Sudan tragedies. BUST magazine reported that many women and girls (as young as three years old) are being victims of war-related rape. Even those who are "representing" the U.N. have participated. Nice, huh?

I asked Jeff's aunt why she thought we don't even hear about these things in our "liberal" media. She put it perfectly: "I have two words for you, Kelli, and that is oil and black."

What she is saying, essentially, is that because we have nothing to gain from intervening, and because - as BUST ironically put it - "it's just Africa," why would we get involved? Same thing as Rwanda. Same as how the journalist-character played by the awesome Joaquin Phoenix said in the movie, "The world will say, 'that's terrible,' but then go on to eat their dinners."

If we, as Americans, have nothing to gain, then we will continue to feast while others starve and get murdered.

Many people - who are pro-war - say something interesting to me when I ask them how they feel about the Weapons of Mass Destruction lies, about how they feel of the war now. Of how they feel that Bin Laden was not the one we caught, but instead, how we went after Hussein. And they tell me that, oh well, it's good because Hussein needed to get caught anyway. He was an awful dictator.

If this is the case - which I am not debating now - then why do we not go after the "awful" dictators (or rebel groups) in South/Central America? Or Africa? Why is it that they get away with genocide, or that we even have stooped so low as to fund their atrocities? It boils down to what my husband's aunt said - once again, what is our vested interest? If we do not have one, then we shrug our shoulders and continue to feast.

We have an interest in the Middle East - that is something that every American knows. We also have an interest in South/Central America, because many of our business interests lie within this region. Yet, their "awful" dictators are allowed their freedom to commit crimes (even with American money) because they appease the American business interest. Hussein - while indeed an asshole - did not. So we go in and attack his country and take over under the banner of "freedom."

This is what upsets me greatly when I see a movie like Hotel Rwanda. I see the other side: the side of people who look to our generally wealthy country and "democratic" government for help, yet we historically turn the other cheek. African-American activist and expatriate, Randall Robinson, wrote in his book Defending the Spirit - after encountering a racist who called him "boy," when he is a Harvard Lawyer who has dined with Presidents - that "the 'boy' to whom the [white] semiliterate corn farmer is referring is I. And I have traveled a long way to nowhere."

That last line is how I sum up America: we have traveled a long way to nowhere. While women are being raped along with their three-year old daughters in Sudan, conservative fundamentalists are trying to change our constitution, and are putting the Gay/Lesbian community into a state of second-class citizenship. While many people are still being captured into slavery or being subjected to sweatshop conditions while American corporations make billions in profit, a Kansas Attorney General is more concerned with obtaining the medical records of women who had abortions. Like it is any of his f*cking business.

So where are we now? Over a hundred years from when slavery was abolished, over forty years from when segregation was removed, over twenty years from when abortion clinics were bombed, over ten years from when NAFTA was put into place, we are still in a state of ruin.

Some people send me their e:mails of a crying eagle, and I laugh, because they think he is crying for a different reason than myself. They think of the tragedy of 9/11 and our fallen soldiers- and while yet it is still a tragedy, especially for a veteran like myself - I think of the lack of dignity we encompass because of our inability to truly, and equally, promote the ideals of democracy. Our inability to not only try to help our own poor, or by failing to give EVERYONE no matter his or her sexual orientation a taste of our how our government should work.

And this, to me, is why our Mother - and her symbol, that eagle - should cry.


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