Darfur: The Meme.

Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, has used the G-word in describing the situation in Darfur, Sudan. So has Colin Powell, George Clooney, the US House of Representatives, Madeleine Albright, George W. Bush, and millions of demostrators worldwide.

So why, for the third year running, does genocide continue in Darfur?

It's complicated, doubtless, but if we claim to be a "never again" nation--a "culture of life" that won't stand for another Rwanda, another Holocaust--why isn't preventing the rape, murder, and displacement of millions an urgent priority? If we're moral people, how can this continue?

Pressure has been exerted on all fronts--in state houses and the UN General Assembly, on streets by protesters and by tireless media figures like Nicholas Kristof. As a meme that stands in for massive human suffering, "Darfur" has to take off and permeate all aspects of our world, so the willfully ignorant or the otherwise distracted can be that way no longer. Both as recognition and a call-to-action for demonstrators, legislators, graffitists, artists, bloggers, interventionists, benefactors, gamers, and others, here's a run-down of innovative ways of passing Darfur-awareness memes. Can art and protest, graffiti and YouTube change the world? Probably not, but as part of a relentless and multi-faceted effort to change minds, maybe it can help.

Pass it on...

YouTube: We saw it used, to great effect, in the midterm elections, and activists are using it for Darfur. This one features bits of rally speeches by Tom Lantos (the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress), Barack Obama, George Clooney, and others before offering the testimony of The Lost Boys of Sudan, who at ages 6 and 7, saw their parents murdered in front of them. Below that, a homemade YouTube Darfur plea.

Last month, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum projected wall-sized images of the genocide on the side of their building. A partnership with the traveling exhibition Darfur Darfur, the project--headlined "Our Walls Bear Witness"--serves the dual roles of educating and challenging us that "not on our watch" can this continue. That an institution focused on the world's most horrifying genocide is doing it links the suffering in Sudan to the murder of millions of Jewish people, making clear: a Holocaust is what we'll have if we don't act.

Flickr pools pass the meme, including this street stencil, a tiny reminder on the pavement in Edgewater.

Darfur is Dying is a video game that illustrates life in northern Sudan. The free online game created by MTV has two parts. In the first, you can pick one of eight characters--from 10-year-old Deng to 30-year-old Rahman--to forage for water. Hiding from Janjaweed militias can be tough, and if you're caught--and, likely, raped and killed--that character disappears next time you play. The second part simulates life in a refugee camp, putting yourself in the place of those struggling a world away. Naturally, it includes background on the crisis, action steps, and an email-a-friend function.

Finally, this isn't a meme, but it could be. Searching for a map of Sudan, I stumbled upon this image showing the tiny town of Darfur in Minnesota. What if Darfur was in the US? Would we wait this long to ensure the safety of millions of people?
Of course, there are dozens of sites selling merchandise with proceeds going to Darfur awareness initiatives and humanitarian relief in Sudan. Become a walking billboard with t-shirts, the Save Darfur Yarmulke, wristbands, etc. And bloggers, consider putting up an anti-genocide link bug to the Genocide Intervention Network on your site. (Also, from GI-Net, "ten things you can do right now.")

Genocide Intervention Network

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