For this assignment I chose a political cartoon by a man named Robert Stack, depicting international media looking on at the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide. The journalists and news teams represented here aren’t doing anything, they’re simply looking into the “hell” that was the event. The artist’s page I located the cartoon on describes the drawing with a sense of “distance” to the genocide. The cartoon is essentially “criticizing the empirical, distant attitude taken by the international press toward the Rwandan genocide.” (Stack). It’s strange, in that the depiction doesn’t necessarily violate any rights, as people are free to have sort of First Amendment values pertaining to free speech and free press. What it’s showing that’s inherently wrong is the lack of involvement. The people from outside Rwanda, the media and the government had turned their backs on the Rwandan genocide and decided not to intervene, but take photos and display media of those suffering in the country. As a recent example I can think of the issue in Darfur in Sudan, and just how much of a brutal mess it was. I was born in 1994 so I only learned about the Rwandan genocide years after, but in terms of the issue in Sudan, it started in 2003. Even in the third grade and moving on into middle school and eventually high school, I was cognizant of the horrific acts going on there. As we see in the film, “Shake Hands with The Devil,” the genocide was a brutality and what Lt. General Romeo Dallaire calls a failure of humanity. He witnessed the slaughtering of over 800,000 people in 100 days, it’s no surprise he’s haunted by the images engraved in his mind. Who wouldn’t be haunted? It’s crazy to think that he, a Canadian General, went into the situation without prior briefing or even necessary supplies. Both Dallaire and others presented in the film discuss a loss of opportunities between mainly all parties involved. This included the “Third Force,” a young group of militia intended on rebooting and continuing the war. This segment of the film heavily reminded me of the recent Netflix drama, “Beasts of No Nation,” which I urge all of you to go watch. It’s a sad and emotional look at a young African boy who’s ripped away from his family and forced into a brutal military force. Going back to “Shake Hands with The Devil,” the film deals a whole lot on the human element. Questions like what makes someone human, how can humans commit these acts, how do we as humans prevent things like this, etc. etc., are commonplace within the film. As Michael Caine’s Alfred in 2008’s The Dark Knight says, “some people just want to watch the world burn.” It’s a contrived and often-used quote, but I think it certainly rings true in the case of not only the Rwandan genocide, but also the genocides of Sudan and the rest of the world, past and present.
Site for Political Cartoon: https://www.elance.com/samples/rwanda-rwanda-genocide-editorial-stack-pen-amp-ink-press-media/51093505/
Link to trailer for “Beasts of No Nation” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xb9Ty-1frw
(Seriously guys, if you haven’t seen this film, I highly suggest you do.)
I absolutely agree with Slimbach in this section that international study depends a lot on the individual. It’s sort of what everyone says, you get out what you put in. I think if you don’t have an understanding of global awareness and responsibility, you risk yourself becoming a passive tourist, or as Slimbach calls it having a consumerist/entitlement mentality. This attitude produced in the States creates a self-indulgence that gets in the way of true global learning. I truly don’t believe I’ve been caught up in any of this talk or accusations, as I planned from the start to go in with a mature level of responsibility and a wise mindset for global, cultural and social differences. I think the vast majority of us here in my program are like-minded, in that we’re all aware of what needs to happen for ourselves to get the most out of this experience. I think part of the American system conditions people in different ways. It brings about the talk of nature vs. nurture and how we’re brought up, but that seems a bit too general. Part of why the entitlement attitude persists among this generation is because many, as Slimbach points out, are not eager to leave behind their comfortable social atmosphere. This is one reason I think the QU301 November sessions helped to establish that we as students studying internationally have a necessity to break the foundations of what we feel our own cultural norms are and to break this stereotype that Slimbach describes. One way we can encourage the idea to exude a global responsibility to others that have fallen victim to this stereotype is to put other people and other cultures and countries before your own. No matter how much you think you’re the king of the world, you’re not, and there are actual issues facing different societies around the globe. Slimbach’s described attitude hinders greatly on the chance for understanding. “Then, by taking steps to widen our circle of concern, we are free to face the world, not as naïve optimists, but as hopeful realists who embrace the triumphs and tribulations of the human experience.” (Slimbach, 36).