A major cause celebre of liberals these days is genocide in Darfur. This includes the local student group Students Taking Action Now Darfur (STAND).
To be sure, the genocide in Darfur is both real and serious. The Arab Muslim government of Sudan launched a campaign against the black Muslims in the western part of Sudan. About 400,000 people have been killed.
Still, this movement raises questions. The government of Sudan didn't just recently start killing people. About two million people were killed in a war between the Sudanese government and rebels in the south of Sudan. This war lasted through most of the eighties and nineties. A few years ago, a peace agreement limited the violence.
This war featured genocide by the Sudanese government. Yet almost the only people who paid any attention to the issue were conservative Christians. Could this be because the victims of the genocide were predominantly black Christians, not Muslims as in Darfur?
Another question is what exactly STAND advocates. All decent people oppose what Sudan's government is doing. But what should be done about it? Activists have talked about "raising awareness". But what will this accomplish? Will it stop the genocide?
Others have advocated military intervention, whether by America or the United Nations. This is ironic since many of the same people are bitter opponents of the war in Iraq. What reason do they have to think that the same thing is happening in Iraq won't happen in Sudan? Their good intentions?
Would intervening in Darfur be in the interests of the United States? Does this question matter to the activists?
Probably the most effective means of intervention would be something that none of the activists have proposed. Specifically, give the Darfuris guns. Then they will be able to defend themselves. Genocide is only possible when the populace is disarmed.