Friday, December 5, 2008

Heated Passions Erupt, Accusations Fly

On Wednesday evening the UMass political group "Save Darfur" and "Amnesty International," sponsored "Raise Hope for the Congo," an event to be held in Bartlet 65 featuring journalist and former member of the Clinton administration, John Prendergast. Prendergast is co-chair of the "ENOUGH Project," which is an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity.

Prendergast was also joined by physician Dr. Mukwege (After another guest cancelled - UN Goodwill Ambassador Jimmie Briggs,) who works helping rape victims in the only all-women hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo - The Panzi Hospital. The event was to concentrate on the current crisis in the Congo, which has played host to "The world's deadliest conflict since World War II," and to especially shine a harsh light on the fact that the militias in eastern Congo are using sexual violence against women and girls as a weapon and tool to advance their play to destroy communities and exert tight control over natural resources.

Prendergast was the first to speak, and he gave a fairly succinct, history and summary of the crisis that has spanned 12 long years and has resulted in the deaths of 45,000 each month. That specific number comes from Prendergast and the "RAISE Hope for Congo" campaign, which is a specific project push of ENOUGH. This number of supposed dead seemed to spark the small flame of contention that had been simmering quietly in the 10th row from the front of the stage.

Once Mr. Prendergast, the good doctor and Candice Knezevic, the manager of the Enough campaign finished their presentation, the event was opened up to questions from the small audience and answers from the guests. After a fairly uncontroversial question posed to Prendergast - (How do we go about punishing the rebel militia leaders when the 'RAISE Hope..' movement in itself preaches peace & understanding,) a white, medium statured, bald man with a white, tucked-in T shirt, large vein bulging in his neck and black artisan glasses shot up from his seat like a Jack 'n' the Box that was wound too tightly by some snotty-nosed kid.

"WHY DON'T YOU TELL THE TRUTH JOHN," he yelled as the audiences' blood pressure rocketed. "WHY DON'T YOU TELL US WHAT YOUR REALLY ABOUT?" he screamed as he turned to face the people seated behind him. From what I could understand, once I regained my composure, was that this man believed Prendergast and others in the U.S. government were somehow involved in keeping the violent fighting going and ultimately profiting from it. "JOHN KNOWS WHO I AM! TELL THE REAL TRUTH. THE NUMBER OF DEAD IS MORE LIKE TEN MILLION!" Not the 5.5 million the journalist, author and activist proposed during his talk.

A number of male students in the audience began to yell at the man to "shut the **** up, and leave." A teacher approached him and asked him politely to go, but the passionate man refused until "PEOPLE START ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO TELL THE TRUTH JOHN!" At about this point two African American women in the 3rd row began to loudly proclaim that although he might be going about it in the wrong way, he was right. This validation seemed to calm the bald, non- UMass student. A visibly shaken John Prendergast began to answer another question posed from a soft-spoken audience member. - "Who do the Congolese want as a leader in their government, and how can the U.S. administration help? - As he started to respond - "THE ADMINISTRATION...! OH MAN. THE TRUTH JOHN," the 10th row shook.
"Man, we have some really disruptive people here today. Well we tried," the activist said as he abruptly grabbed his notes and T-Mobile cell, got up and left the stage as the rest of the audience clapped loudly, apparently attempting to provide their own validation to themselves and the ruined night.


h said...

would you please ask Mr. Coulter to contact me when he has a moment?
His contact does not appear on your masthead although he has a number
of bylines with the Collegian.


Robert Jereski

you seem quite removed from the controversy. wish you had actually
learned more or even taken a position.

for instance, why didn't you ask the guy you ridicule who happened to
ask - from what you write - a question re. the vast underestimation of
murders in the congo by the u.s.g. and another question re. the profit
from this carnage which powerful interests in the u.s. (and abroad?)
enjoy? Also your link to an official u.s. govt. 'information' bureau
post on usg's position on the conflict is not journalism. It's

thanks for highlighting how at a 'liberal' college like amherst people
can stand up and tell someone who is sharing information at a public
forum to shut the f*** up is a telling indictment of the university
and the time.

i think that's important.

but you should have gotten more info re. the complicity of the u.s. in
the genocide in the congo from the guy who seemed informed about it;
i'd long suspected (and seen evidence of it).

and that amnesty and 'Enough' might be covering for it is not
surprising given Amnesty's role in supporting other interventionist
policies. For instance, Bush's Merida Initiative, under the guise of
the 'war on drugs' which arms brutal and corrupt military/police.

allthingspass said...


As a journalism major, I encourage you to examine the biases of the so-called "journalism" department you are studying with. More importantly, your powers of observation are very weak, as you have not very accurately recreated the unfolding of events.

As far as John Prendergast giving "a fairly succinct, clear history and summary of the crisis that has spanned 12 long years and has resulted in the deaths of 45,000 each month" -- you have no idea how incorrect you are, but given that you rely on the mainstream establishment press as your model of reality, its no wonder.

Indeed, a fish does not know water until it discovers air.

See, for a warmerupper:

keith harmon snow

P.S. My glasses are red, my T-Shirt was pink (and it said , and John Prendergast was far cooler than you indicate. Indeed, he's a rather likeable guy, though confused (but clearly not the only one).