The Vilification of the Sudanese People
In various conflicts and disputes around the world the U.S. has all ways been careful to distinguish between the people and their government, the people all ways been shown as innocent by standers. For example a recent example would be Iran, where the US right wing media has taken on simplistic slogans such as “you are either with the Iranian people or you are with the tyrants” in an attempt to justify a more robust stance against the Iranian Government. The culture and history of states such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have all ways been spoken of in positive terms before any diplomatic or military push has been mounted, as if to emphasis how little the government had in common with the people of those states.
However a totally different approach has been taken with Sudan, in which the vilification in Sudan does not end with the government but extends to the people who are shown simply to be intolerant and racist. There is no attempt to show Sudanese people in a positive light, as a people who are at the mercy of fundamentalists as was done in Afghanistan. Instead, the Sudanese people are apparently equally culpable in all that their government is being accused of. The reason for this is what Sudan is being accused of: genocide. Activists and lobbyists are all too aware that “genocide” does not happen in tolerant melting pots, they happen in fractious states where the people are deeply indoctrinated to dislike another race, states in which their fellow men are portrayed as being sub-human. Simply, the stage has to be set for an accusation of genocide to be made, since any genocide must happen with at least partial collusion from the populace.
While lobbyists and advocates may have no ill will towards the Sudanese populace and see this as an issue purely between them and the Sudanese Government, they have clearly chosen to sacrifice the once positive image of Sudan so that their Genocide claim can have a chance of standing.
The affects of this campaign to villainize Sudanese will last long after peace in Darfur has been achieved. Sudan will long be seen as an unwelcoming and uncivilized place, when I and others who have visited Sudan can state for a fact that nothing could be further from the truth. But sadly many of the advocates and commentators responsible for projecting this negative image of Sudan have no intention of stepping foot inside the country.
Mohanad El Ballal is a law student based in the UK with a personal interest in Sudan.