Education

History: In Living Color

Lincoln-reddit.jpg

Every once in a while I come across a website that piques my interest. Some are cool, some are strange, and some are just down right fascinating. This one was both fascinating and frustrating, so I thought I would share and see what your thoughts are on it.

The website is for Marina Amaral, an artist who uses Photoshop to painstakingly add color to historical photos that were taken in black and white. To see her work, click on the link and then either click into the “Portfolio” or “Blog” pages. She does a fantastic job on the transformations through research to try and match the reality of the time the picture was taken.

It is cool to see photos that I have only seen in black and white come to “life.” It is fascinating to see the life flow through the people and places in the image. That part is cool and adds a sort of unknown depth to the photo.

HOWEVER, that is also the frustrating part as well!  One thing we have to be careful of is not letting these photos stand alone to become part of the historical record. I believe they are best viewed with the original photo, side by side. The reason is that we, in our search to “know” everything, tend to let changes to history go without challenging them. When we stop challenging them, they actually become the history we wanted to view through a different lens. Whether it is intentional or not, there has to be caution in such recreations of history. We can’t let the historical record change so that the only pictures we view in the future of these subjects are the ones that have had the color added.

Let me offer an example from personal experience. In the past, I have shown historically based films in my classroom. The first caution I have always gave before showing the film was that it was someone’s interpretation of the history, not the actual history – regardless of how well the movie was done and tried to follow the historical record closely. I always encouraged the students to study the subject further to find out if what they saw was accurately portrayed or not. The students used to complain, complain that the film was in black and white. “Why is it in black and white…”, “Isn’t there a film about this in color…”, etc etc. Their first inclination was that it was boring if there was no color, even if the film was a modern film but done in black and white for theatrical purposes (such as Schindler’s List).

Our students (and maybe our society as a whole) has a hard time distinguishing between fact and fiction, so studies show that Americans (and probably others) tend to think that what they saw in a historically based film is true. They accept it as fact. Thus, when we look at photos that have been colored in such a realistic and beautiful way, I am afraid the original photos will lose relevance in a world where “reality” and “facts” mean so little.

Does that make sense? Do you worry about the same thing? Or, am I just making a big deal out of nothing? What do you think?

What the Legislators Aren’t Doing

This is a great visual representation of what the Washington state legislature IS NOT doing in regards to funding schools in Washington. The state supreme court found the state legislature in “contempt of court” in September of 2014, yet the state legislature continues to make little progress towards the goal they set in their testimony during the trial. This chart shows, quite obviously, that the state isn’t living up to their promises and that ANY money being added to education this year is only “catch up” money, NOT additional funds as they claim in their press releases and speeches to the media.

Don’t you think it’s about time to fund education fully?

Quote of the Day

Not sure about her fashion sense, but she gets credit for the quote.

That moment when everything makes sense and comes into focus…this was it for me today.

I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.

Edith Sitwell, thank you. Thank you for putting to words my thoughts and feelings, exactly.

Those Who Can, Teach

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Perhaps there should be at least one prerequisite for becoming a lawmaker: FORMER EDUCATOR.

Those who have spent little or no time in a classroom, including those with lots of money and “data,” should not be able to tell you how a classroom should function. If one requirement to be a lawmaker was that the person needed to have been a former educator, no matter the level, maybe we wouldn’t have the most asinine education reform movements we have ever seen in the last 20 years.

Anyone agree? Anyone see any problems with this suggestion?

My 2-cents: 33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand

I don’t normally like to piggyback on someone else’s writing, but there was an article back a week or so and I thought I would add my two cents to the content of that article. It was called “33 Problems That All Teachers Will Understand” and I can understand a bunch of them since I have been a teacher for a while now.

I want to reflect on these problems by relating my own experiences. We are now into the first week of school so now seems like the best time to tackle this task. If you click on the link above, it will open a separate window and you can read my blog along with the original article.

#1

Students are often waiting at my door in the morning (7:00am) because they are looking for extra help or for a quiet place to study before school actually starts. I often consume three cups of coffee on the way to school (I live an hour away from my school and commute each day), so I don’t really have a problem getting caffeinated before I have to address their needs, however there are times that I wish there were no students as I use the beginning of the day as my planning period.

#2

No teacher likes this. Really, there is nothing exciting about curriculum changes unless it is one that you have begged your principal to make so you can teach an elective course (I am a high school teacher) you have always DREAMED of being able to teach. Unless you have a situation like this, most change is not good change. More than likely the change is being mandated by “elected” officials with no classroom experience and no clue about what goes on in a real classroom. Not the stuff that happens on the day of their special visit, but EVERY day in the classroom. Otherwise, you are just an interruption. Quit meddling and leave the education policy to the people who know the kids and know what they are doing!

#3

Can’t say that I have one single kids that falls into this category. I do, however, have a whole class that falls into that category. The district I currently work had the “Class from Hell” graduate in 2008…and we all breathed a sigh of relief when they left!

#4

Yeah, ok. Try it!

#5

Been there, done that. You gotta “love” those parents who start teaching their kids to play the victim early in life rather than teaching them to accept the consequences of their actions. It will only snowball, and we wonder why society is sliding backwards on the evolution scale…

#6

The fun thing about teaching teens is that their sense of humor runs the entire spectrum – from appropriate to inappropriate, from dry to hysterical. If you take yourself, and your class, too seriously then you miss chances to connect with students and build relationships (that leads to rapport) that have an impact on them. After all, kids want the adults in their lives to “be real” with them.

#7

As much as I am aware of what goes on in my room, you can’t compete with all the “inside jokes” and everything else. Just ignore it and move on.

#8

Sounds a lot like a state legislator in every state around the country. Everyone seems to be an expert except the people in the classrooms. It is time for retired teachers to take over the legislature and REALLY get stuff done? Why do I say that? Well because teachers have been doing the best they can with what they are given and always make miracles happen. Who has been doing more with less longer than anyone else? Teachers.

#9

Endless requests…

#10

Weekend? HA! It’s just two more days to get my job done without getting paid for it. 

#11

Yes, yes there are. Not only that, but sometimes kids say the dumbest things! In my classroom I have a thing called the “Stupid Board.” It is a place on my whiteboard where I record the random things kids say that aren’t so smart. I make a point of telling the kids at the beginning of the year that we all have those moments and we can’t take ourselves so seriously that we can’t laugh at ourselves. AND, no one is exempt. I have been on the board many times myself and the kids love it just as much as they see the stupid board as a sort of badge of honor. Have fun in class!

#12

Whut? U must b kiding? LOL. Y wood u say that? My cell fone isn’t to blame 4 how i right. 

#13

I have been lucky to get a few gifts in my years of teaching, but they really haven’t been bad. Unfortunately, as a high school teacher, you really don’t get many. However, the best gift I ever received was a $100 gift certificate to a really fancy restaurant in town. It was from a graduating senior and her family as an appreciation for teaching her for two years (she was a great student too so it was really easy, plus I wasn’t her only teacher to get one!).

#14

Yep, going back after a break sucks. The students show it, we feel it but don’t show it as much as we can.

#15

When it is in your blood, you can’t get it out. It just comes naturally.

#16

This can be a tough one to handle. Some teacher try to BS their way through it. Probably not the best display of professionalism. Others take a more human approach with, “I don’t know but will find out and get back to you.” Teachers, as much as we would like to be, just can’t be a repository of all knowledge. People think we should be but there is just too much to know! Sorry, folks, not gonna happen. I have given the “I don’t know” response in the past and probably will in the future too. There is nothing wrong with not knowing and we have so many resources now available to find out rather quickly. Today’s stumper question: “What exactly does the ebola virus do?” Well, that is a good question so let’s look it up together and find out!

#17

Or mustard from your sandwich.

Or soup from your bowl.

Or chalk on your butt from leaning against the chalk tray.

Or having to go the bathroom for two hours with no break and finally having to run out of the room with no explanation other than “That feels better” when you return back to the room.

#18

Damn internal clock!

#19

Ok, so Victoria Secret really isn’t a problem for me, but just running into student anywhere is always an interesting experience. They always seem so perplexed to see you outside of your “cage.” As if you really don’t have a life beyond the classroom! Yes, I go out to eat, shop at the grocery store, attend movies, visit the park, and all the other things I happen to do when I am not at school. I don’t live there (though it seems like it at times) and actually do things I enjoy other than reading history books.

#20

This is actually one of my pet peeves!! I call them “danglies” and I hate them. I actually spend two minutes talking about them when I go over my syllabus to explain that they make me mad and really make me mad when I see them on the floor and the janitor now has to pick them up. I actually go so far as to not accept homework if they are still on the paper when it is turned in. Fix it, then turn it in!

#21 & #22

Lost cause. You will get sick and there is no avoiding it. What’s worse? Well, it is less work (or hassle) to go to school sick than it is to plan for a sub. Again, no one is better at “grinning and bearing it” than teachers.

#23

Yes, we beg for these too. Living an hour away from my school, I often have to drive THROUGH the worst stuff to get to school because the school hasn’t experienced the worst weather and there is no reason to cancel it. 

#24

This also is a losing battle. The younger they are, maybe the easier it is to control it. However, at some point you may just have to adopt the “college mentality” when it comes to cellphones in the room. That is, keep right on going with the lesson and let them be distracted. If they miss the material it will result in consequences they will have to deal with in the future, like failing a test…I know, I know…that is too real. How dare I? I provide the opportunity to get an education if they choose not to take it, is that my responsibility?

#25

Can’t do nothing fun in school any more…

#26

Sometimes, a sense of humor gets me through the day and then there are those moments where you just can’t say all you want to. A very thin line gets walked at times.

#27

Or Friday mornings at 7:00am.

#28

Early bed time.

Papers to grade.

You just want “to be like broccoli.”

Lack of motivation.

You really do have a headache.

#29

Only Friday? Try every day at 3:00pm!! Where is my nap mat? Oh, there it is, under my desk.

#30 & #31

As a teacher, there are many scenarios that play out in your head in mere seconds. Many of them include totally coming unhinged – throwing books, tossing tables, slamming doors, punching your computer, etc.  Instead, you calmly handle it just like you did the first 23 times you had to deal with it.

#32

The sad things is, I worked in retail management for five years. I made more, per year ($40k), as a rookie store manager for a furniture company than I did after seven years of teaching ($38,600). Now if that isn’t disheartening, I don’t know what it. Why is educating the most important possession you have (your children), not the most important profession? Don’t tell me you think it is and then not pay me accordingly. That is really patronizing!! Our society needs a serious adjustment of values.

#33

Despite all the problems in or with my job, THAT is the reason I get up each day and come back to the classroom.

 

Comments? What do you think? If you are a teacher, which one(s) stand out for you? Leave a comment below.

 

“Pay for veteran teachers ‘painfully low’”… The Washington Post

If you are a teacher, you already know this and it will come as no surprise. However, the public should know it too AND they should be doing something about it. For what is arguably the most important job in America (educating the young/future generations), why isn’t there more emphasis on increasing the pay scales for teachers?

I am one of the ever increasing numbers that has a part-time job (driving instructor & licensing tester) to help meet the budget each month. During the school year I average about 20-25 hours a month and during the summer that increases to 30-35 hours a month.

See the article below:

Pay for veteran teachers ‘painfully low’ in states like Colorado, where truckers earn more — new report – The Washington Post.

If you are a teacher, do you have a part-time job, what is it, and how many hours a month do you work?

Never Enough

I saw this article going around Facebook yesterday and I have to say that I haven’t seen it put better in any other place. THIS is what is hard about teaching. So, have a look and then maybe start to think of the teachers in your (or, better yet, in your kids’ lives) a little differently.

THE HARDEST PART OF TEACHING

After you read it, go hug a teacher today!

Let’s Review…

It is the end of the school year and things around here are pretty busy.

Graduation is only three days away and I am busy wrapping up the year (and high school careers) with seniors that I have seen nearly every day (save summer, of course) for two years. This time of year is hard, but I’ll endure. Then there are all the end of year things to be done and paperwork to fill out and classroom to clean and plans to be made for lesson planning over the summer. The list never ends.

So, in review, I don’t have much time to put something new out. BUT, there are some posts in the archive that might be worth your reading since you may not have been around when they were written. Take a look at these earlier post in my blogging life:

Eject “God Bless America” from Baseball

Pet Perturbed

 

Enjoy!

Parental Detention (or, I’m Making a Point for My Child)

 

In thirteen years of teaching, I haven’t ever had what happened on Friday afternoon after school. I had a parent “own” his child’s detention (child stayed too) and he wasn’t apologetic for it either. I am not really sure how I feel about it and I am still trying to process it. How would you take it?

Background

It was the 6th period of the day and there was only an hour left of school. The bell had rung and all the students were in their seats as we started. We had been talking and reading about the origins of the Vietnam War when Student A’s cell phone make a beeping noise, a text alert.

Now, we have a cell phone policy in our school that doesn’t allow for the use of cell phones during class. Generally though, most teachers don’t really follow the policy any longer because we would spend all of our time “policing” cell phone usage and very little time teaching. Plus, getting into conflict over a cell phone generally isn’t a great way to build rapport with a student. It’s an issue, but not one to die over. These days, I have taken the policy of letting them use it (unless blatantly disrupting their learning or someone else’s) because they are responsible for their learning, not me. If they are distracted by it, then it is on them. Plus, I actually require they use them occasionally for taking a survey by text or whatnot. However, I do draw the line when a cell phone becomes audible. Then I confiscate the cell phone for the class period and return it to them as they leave class. This all seems to work fairly well most of the time.

Student A’s cell phone make a sound after receiving a text. I asked her to bring it up. She protested a little with, “But Student B sent me the text!” Everyone in the room laughed because Student B is in the room too and she got her friend in trouble. Student A brought her phone up to me and while she did so I said that Student B needed to bring me her cell phone since she was the one who sent the text. Student B said she wouldn’t bring it to me. So, I went to the back of the room, held out my hand, and asked for it again. Student B flatly refused again saying, “No, I’m not giving it to you. My dad said to never give up my phone.” Now everyone in the room is watching and I’m thinking, “Well, this is interesting. Never would have expected this from her.” (Mostly because she is a GREAT student, straight A’s, always compliant, helpful, and respectful.) I asked again saying, “Come on, give me your phone. Is it really worth getting a detention for?” Student B’s response, “My daddy said to never give up my phone, so yes.” OK. I promptly turned, returned to the front of the room and wrote her name on the board. The class moved on as though it didn’t happen. After class and on her way out of the room she asked, “What time will you be here until today? My dad wants to come talk to you.” I gave her a time and Student B left the room.

The Parent

I was half expecting the riot act when the parent got there. But then again, this is a really nice family and all the kids are great kids so I wasn’t really sure what to think was going to happen. I was pretty sure, however, that I was going to get protestations about how the detention was unfair.

When the parent walked in all he said was, “I’m here for my detention! Where do you want me?” I responded that he could sit anywhere. Then he said, “I just want you to know that I am here to serve the detention since my daughter was following my instructions. With my background in law enforcement, I have instructed all my kids to never give up their phones. We will be dealing with her texting in class when we get home.” I said, “You know this is a bit unusual because I didn’t expect her to say ‘no’. We have a school policy of no cell phone usage in the classroom and if you need to get a hold of your student you can call the office and they will forward a message OR now you can actually call into our classrooms directly if needed.” His response was simply, “I know. that is just our rule for our kids.” Then he turned and chose a seat and sat down with his daughter. They sat there quietly talking for 25 minutes.

The End

There were a few minutes left in their 30 minutes and so I decided I should probably explain why she had gotten a detention a little more plainly that what his daughter had explained to him. So, I addressed Student B as I sat in front of them,” Student B I want to explain why you got the detention and how surprised I was that I had to give you one. The fact is that I like you and you are one of the best students I have in the junior class, that being said, I also can’t treat you differently than I would treat the other students in the room. The fact is, if you refuse to obey the instructions given to you by a teacher, I can’t just let that go. It sets a bad precedent for the others to see. You didn’t get the detention for using the cell phone. The detention was for refusing to give it up.” She said she understood.

Then her dad spoke up, “Listen, I understand why you gave her a detention and I am not happy with her because I had to rearrange my schedule to be here. I am not happy that she was using her cell phone during class and we will deal with that when we get home. But, I have to say, that I am proud of her for sticking up for what she had been instructed by her father to do, even in the face of adversity. We often wonder how our kids will react when they are put in a situation where they have to stand up for what they believe and when there is pressure to conform. She acted as I hoped she would, not in just this situation but hopefully in even greater, more serious situations. I am sorry she violated your policy and refused to give up her phone. That’s on me, but I wouldn’t want her to do it any differently. You did what you had to do and I respect that.”

We exchanged a few pleasantries about the weekend and out the door they went with a, “See you on Monday, Mr. Grenz!” from Student B.

My Questions

How do I take this? Was this a lesson for the child or was this a parent response telling me how ridiculous he thought it was that I gave his daughter a detention?

I am inclined to think it is the former, but there is still a part of me that thinks it is the latter. The words spoken seem to indicate this was a lesson for the student, but the tone in some of the words makes me think it was a lesson for me. I can’t quite put my finger on this and I haven’t quite settled on an answer.

So, tell me what you think? How would you have reacted to the teacher? How would you have taken this whole thing if you were the teacher? You can respond via the poll or in the comments.

Duck, Duck, Genocide

 

South Sudan

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it must be a duck.”

My senior Contemporary Issues (college prep) class has been doing a unit on genocide. I must admit, I lost it in class a little over a week ago. Not in the sense that you are probably thinking, no I didn’t lose me temper with them because they weren’t paying attention or being disrespectful. The fact is, I lost it emotionally. I quite literally and very visibly choked back my emotions as I read to them an article about the latest events happening in South Sudan. We had been, at the time, covering the 1994 Rwandan genocide and watching the film, Sometimes in April, so they were becoming familiar with the events of Rwanda. As I struggled to read the article about South Sudan, it was clear that I was not the only one in the room that was having a hard time with the topic. There was lots of sniffling and the wiping of eyes as they left the room at the end of the period.

It is interesting to watch them struggle with the realities that they face going into the larger world, and the realities of foreign policy. They are now starting to see that those easy and trite solutions they think they have for social or political problems in our country (and maybe around the world) aren’t as easy as they believed. This unit, with help from the Choices curriculum, has been designed to leave as many questions (by my design) as it answers. It gives them a chance to know the history and recognize the significant international challenges facing our nation and others when it comes to difficult issues (genocide, among others). To this point, we have covered Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and now Sudan (specifically the first event – Darfur). We have now dealt with the recent events in South Sudan and, after looking at the patterns from the other events, there is only one determination to make about what is happening there.

Genocide

I’m not going to beat around the bush here when it comes to what is going on in South Sudan. There may be a civil war, but it has all the markings of genocide, so let’s call it that instead of dancing around the issue and playing with nuances or word games. Then let’s do something about it instead of sitting back and letting it happen again because that phrase, “Never again,” has been uttered one too many times.

How do we know it is genocide? The first place to start is with the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This document outlines the international effort to prevent and punish genocide after the Holocaust of World War II. The most important sections of the document are Articles 2 & 3. These articles define and outline the conditions for which genocide can be determined. Genocide is

Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such :
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Article III
The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide ;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide ;
(e) Complicity in genocide.

Admittedly, genocide can be difficult to define since the definition is a bit vague. My students have realized this as they have pondered the different episodes over time. However, what does seem pretty clear is that human rights should take precedent. No, there are no hard and fast numbers or “check points” for making a definitive determination. There are no “If the number of killings reaches 100, or a 1000,… .” Yet, on the other hand, can the killing of one person (surely the death of any number of people should be reprehensible) be enough for a genocide classification? This creates a rather convenient ambiguity that allows for the international community, or individual countries, to wiggle around events that are genocide. The convention requires that if a country recognizes an event as genocide, they have to do something about it. So, most countries just don’t use “the word.” Even international organizations that are supposed to protect human rights won’t use the word for fear of being held accountable for not doing something about it (see Amnesty International article). It is easier to condemn the events as “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” or “crimes against humanity” so that no real commitment has to be made. NOT doing something falls under Article III, Section E, doesn’t it? Complicity?

Many of the people in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, were hopeful that they had put the violence of the past behind them when they voted for independence from Sudan. However, it didn’t take long for the violence to return. In the very recent past they have descended into ethnic conflicts between the Dinka and Nuer people, which has stemmed from a civil war between the president (a Dinka) and a fired deputy (a Nuer). The atrocities have now become well documented, but the international community continues to call the violence what it really is. On May 8, 2014, the UN released its report, Conflict in South Sudan: A Human Rights Reportwhere it again fails to call the events in South Sudan a genocide. The report does, however, indicate that the atrocities have gone both ways and that no one group is the sole perpetrator in the conflict.

Rwanda

Echoes of Rwanda

In 1994, Rwanda descended into chaos as the Hutus began a systematic and brutal program of extermination of the Tutsis. It took only 100 days for the Hutus to kill over 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers. This was aided, of course by the world not really paying attention to what was going on and dancing around this issue. The information about how and where to do the killings was transmitted over the radio and as a result the radio was used to fan the flames of hatred and incite more violence on the Tutsis. The United States government, supposedly the only country in the world with the technology to block the radio transmissions, debated about the legality of blocking the radio signals and the right to free speech instead of human rights and protecting innocent life.

President Clinton visited Rwanda in 1998 and apologized for our failure to act. After the fact, he acknowledged the genocide.

…I thank especially the survivors of the genocide and those who are working to rebuild your country for spending a little time with us before we came in here…I have come today to pay the respects of my Nation to all who suffered and all who perished in the Rwandan genocide…Rwanda experienced the most extensive slaughter in this blood-filled century we are about to leave—families murdered in their homes, people hunted down as they fled by soldiers and militia, through farmland and woods as if they were animals.

From Kibuye in the west to Kibungo in the east, people gathered seeking refuge in churches by the thousands, in hospitals, in schools. And when they were found, the old and the sick, the women and children alike, they were killed—killed because their identity card [identified them as the targeted group]…It is important that the world know that these killings were not spontaneous or accidental…These events grew from a policy aimed at the systematic destruction of a people. The ground for violence was carefully prepared, the airwaves poisoned with hate…All of this was done, clearly, to make it easy for otherwise reluctant people to participate in wholesale slaughter…

…In their fate, we are reminded of the capacity for people everywhere, not just in Rwanda, and certainly not just in Africa but the capacity for people everywhere, to slip into pure evil. We cannot abolish that capacity, but we must never accept it. And we know it can be overcome…The international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy, as well. We did not act quickly enough after the killing began…we owe to all the people in the world our best efforts to organize ourselves so that we can maximize the chances of preventing these events. And where they cannot be prevented, we can move more quickly to minimize the horror.

So let us challenge ourselves to build a world in which no branch of humanity, because of national, racial, ethnic, or religious origin, is again threatened with destruction because of those characteristics of which people should rightly be proud. Let us work together as a community of civilized nations to strengthen our ability to prevent and, if necessary, to stop genocide….We have seen, too—and I want to say again—that genocide can occur anywhere. It is not an African phenomenon and must never be viewed as such. We have seen it in industrialized Europe; we have seen it in Asia. We must have global vigilance. And never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence. (emphasis added)

Recently it was reported out of South Sudan that the radio was once again being used to incite hatred and further propagate violence against the Nuer people. This can only serve as a stark reminder and prove that the lessons of Rwanda have not been learned. This use of the radio is an explicit mirroring of Rwanda and can’t be denied as anything different. There are reports of young girls, as young as 10 (see UN report mentioned previously) being gang raped by as many as 10 men. There are reports of other women who won’t submit to gang rape being sexually tortured with large sticks, leading to their deaths. Again, like Rwanda, places that should be safe – schools, hospitals, churches, UN compounds – are being attacked and large numbers of people being killed. (Another report) Estimates continue to grow for refugees, now at a million or so, and there is real fear of famine by the end of the year because the conflict has kept them from planting the necessary crops for the food supply.

 The United States and United Nations Response

The United States has done very little when it comes to responding to this genocide, so why would this occasion be any different?. We didn’t do anything in Rwanda, we waited too long to act when it came to Darfur, Sudan, and now we are going to do the same thing when it comes to South Sudan. When the latest atrocities were exposed as “Piles and piles of bodies…” (article) the world seemed to take notice finally. It got lots of coverage across the world. That very same day, the White House released a press statement that summed up the known facts of the killings and called them an “abomination,” but their condemnation stopped there. Essentially the message was, “We’re monitoring the situation, but we aren’t going to do anything.” On May 1st, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry actually mentioned the word genocide as a possibility (if the acts continue) but has yet to identify the events in South Sudan as genocide.

There are very disturbing leading indicators of the kind of ethnic, tribal, targeted, nationalistic killings taking place that raise serious questions, and were they to continue in the way that they have been going could really present a very serious challenge to the international community with respect to the question of genocide. (article)

So, if I understand him right, these events could lead to genocide. Has he read the Genocide Convention? If the events are similar to Rwanda and we called it genocide after the fact, then why not step up and call it that now?

It seems that one guy in Congress, Frank Wolf, has the right idea. He has called on the President to do more for and in South Sudan. He has used President Clinton’s failure in Rwanda as his basis as well. He says that since we were a major player in helping South Sudan become an independent nation that we have a “moral obligation” to intervene.

This week the Obama administration has given lip service to the issue, but has largely only postured politically by issuing economic sanctions on the military commanders (mind you this is just two people) from both sides while not including the key leaders of both sides. The effect of these sanctions will be minimal, if anything at all, as the targeted individuals may or may not do business or have assets in the U.S. The U.S. has spoken to the neighboring countries and they have agreed “in principle” to take similar actions, but this will likely be ineffectual as well.

The United Nations has approximately 26,000 peacekeepers in the country (more than Rwanda at the beginning of that genocide) and there are several areas that refugees have gone for protection. But when those compounds are being attacked and people killed or chased off into the surrounding landscape, it is rather ineffectual. The UN mission hasn’t yet been expanded to “protect the population,” although there have been requests to do so. The UN Security Council has met and supposedly is doing an investigation, but those take time (too much time) and how many more lives will be lost as a result of wasted time?

It only took Rwanda 100 days to blow up into a major humanitarian disaster. “Never again” has been used too many times and it always come back to “again.” Again we are dealing with evidence of genocide, even if it is being committed by both sides. Again the world debates about what to do. Again international organizations remain impotent to deal with a humanitarian crisis involving the deliberate destruction of human life. Again the U.S. sits back and watches while human suffering is evident. Again innocent people are looking for help from the rest of the world and get none.

Again.