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Angelina Jolie, journalist, in the Washington Post

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    The actor on Darfur. Questions before I post the work below:

    1. How much editing do you think was done? Do you think she wrote it, spoke it out loud and somebody wrote it, or just put her name on it? Note the repeated use of "I." Did you read that as a smoke screen?

    2. Regardless of that, do you take this seriously as a column? She's been to Darfur, much less Africa, more times than most journalists, she must know what goes on there, I'm sure she's baby-fed all the handy stats...yet...still...she's an actor. And she's this actor. Does it matter?

    3. What gain does the Washington Post get from running this? What credibility, if any does it lose?

    4. Would you run it if you were an editor? Sean Penn took out an ad. He paid for his words, whether he wrote them or not. Not Jolie.

    5. Do you think it's any good?

  2. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    BAHAI, Chad -- Here, at this refugee camp on the border of Sudan, nothing separates us from Darfur but a small stretch of desert and a line on a map. All the same, it's a line I can't cross. As a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I have traveled into Darfur before, and I had hoped to return. But the UNHCR has told me that this camp, Oure Cassoni, is as close as I can get.

    Sticking to this side of the Sudanese border is supposed to keep me safe. By every measure -- killings, rapes, the burning and looting of villages -- the violence in Darfur has increased since my last visit, in 2004. The death toll has passed 200,000; in four years of fighting, Janjaweed militia members have driven 2.5 million people from their homes, including the 26,000 refugees crowded into Oure Cassoni.

    Attacks on aid workers are rising, another reason I was told to stay out of Darfur. By drawing attention to their heroic work -- their efforts to keep refugees alive, to keep camps like this one from being consumed by chaos and fear -- I would put them at greater risk.

    I've seen how aid workers and nongovernmental organizations make a difference to people struggling for survival. I can see on workers' faces the toll their efforts have taken. Sitting among them, I'm amazed by their bravery and resilience. But humanitarian relief alone will never be enough.

    Until the killers and their sponsors are prosecuted and punished, violence will continue on a massive scale. Ending it may well require military action. But accountability can also come from international tribunals, measuring the perpetrators against international standards of justice.

    Accountability is a powerful force. It has the potential to change behavior -- to check aggression by those who are used to acting with impunity. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has said that genocide is not a crime of passion; it is a calculated offense. He's right. When crimes against humanity are punished consistently and severely, the killers' calculus will change.

    On Monday I asked a group of refugees about their needs. Better tents, said one; better access to medical facilities, said another. Then a teenage boy raised his hand and said, with powerful simplicity, "Nous voulons une épreuve." We want a trial. He is why I am encouraged by the ICC's announcement yesterday that it will prosecute a former Sudanese minister of state and a Janjaweed leader on charges of crimes against humanity.

    Some critics of the ICC have said indictments could make the situation worse. The threat of prosecution gives the accused a reason to keep fighting, they argue. Sudanese officials have echoed this argument, saying that the ICC's involvement, and the implication of their own eventual prosecution, is why they have refused to allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur.

    It is not clear, though, why we should take Khartoum at its word. And the notion that the threat of ICC indictments has somehow exacerbated the problem doesn't make sense, given the history of the conflict. Khartoum's claims aside, would we in America ever accept the logic that we shouldn't prosecute murderers because the threat of prosecution might provoke them to continue killing?

    When I was in Chad in June 2004, refugees told me about systematic attacks on their villages. It was estimated then that more than 1,000 people were dying each week.

    In October 2004 I visited West Darfur, where I heard horrific stories, including accounts of gang-rapes of mothers and their children. By that time, the UNHCR estimated, 1.6 million people had been displaced in the three provinces of Darfur and 200,000 others had fled to Chad.

    It wasn't until June 2005 that the ICC began to investigate. By then the campaign of violence was well underway.

    As the prosecutions unfold, I hope the international community will intervene, right away, to protect the people of Darfur and prevent further violence. The refugees don't need more resolutions or statements of concern. They need follow-through on past promises of action.

    There has been a groundswell of public support for action. People may disagree on how to intervene -- airstrikes, sending troops, sanctions, divestment -- but we all should agree that the slaughter must be stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

    In my five years with UNHCR, I have visited more than 20 refugee camps in Sierra Leone, Congo, Kosovo and elsewhere. I have met families uprooted by conflict and lobbied governments to help them. Years later, I have found myself at the same camps, hearing the same stories and seeing the same lack of clean water, medicine, security and hope.

    It has become clear to me that there will be no enduring peace without justice. History shows that there will be another Darfur, another exodus, in a vicious cycle of bloodshed and retribution. But an international court finally exists. It will be as strong as the support we give it. This might be the moment we stop the cycle of violence and end our tolerance for crimes against humanity.

    What the worst people in the world fear most is justice. That's what we should deliver.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Springsteen wrote an op-ed for the NYT in 2004. Penn took out an ad because his piece was freaking huge -- it was good, but we just wouldn't run an opinion piece of that length. I see nothing wrong with running this, but then I find op-eds boring more often than not.
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

  5. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    I'd run it.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    As an op ed/column, I think it is fantastic. What is going on in Darfur is the neglected story of our day, and this piece went beyond the self-absorbed actor who thinks what they have to say matters more than Joe Sixpack on meaningless issues. The genocide in that region isn't meaningless and if people take a little notice because Angelina Jolie's byline is on the piece, I am all for it. It was written honestly, by someone who has been there, and presents a reasonable point of view and argument without the hyperbole you often get from actor activists. I wish more people gave a shit about Darfur. If this is what it takes, so be it, and the Washington Post certainly doesn't hurt itself by running it. It was solidly written.
  7. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    Seems to be the antiseptic work of a public relations writer....but I don't think it much matters if she wrote it or not....we have to assume it represents her thought, and she does have the U.N. credentials....if her name draws people to the issue, good....the Post gains by those who would read it under her by-line but skip a politician's self-serving plaint...the Post loses nothing.....I'd run it if I were certain it represented her beliefs, and I'd ask her to do me another when there's reason....don't think it's "good," but it's servicable.
  8. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    This was an op-ed, right? Not a column in the news pages? If it's op-ed, no problem. It was reasonable and she seems to have plenty of cred on this issue.
  9. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

  10. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    I very much share Ragu's viewpoint here. Good for her, good for the Post, good for the attention paid to Darfur.
  11. Sportsbruh

    Sportsbruh Member

    It doesn't matter if she wrote it or not. It represents her. She's doing things that carry depth and weight. She could have went to the Oscars and worried about her hair,nails and dress.

    There is NOTHING transparent about her and because of this she's an actor with a soul. I suspect when she gets old and fall out of favor with the boxoffice - she'll get an Oscar for humanitarian reasons.
  12. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Oh, it kinda matters if she wrote it. It's "by" her.
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