The Oscars, the Grammys and Genocide

Originally posted at Stop Genocide:

The red carpet is filled with stars tonight, but you might have noticed that an awards show regular is missing. Instead of hanging out with Brad and Angelina, George Clooney is recovering from a trip to Chad and the Darfur area.

Nicholas Kristof, traveled with Clooney, promising:

You read my columns about Darfur from this trip, and I’ll give you the scoop on every one of Mr. Clooney’s wild romances and motorcycle accidents in this remote nook of Africa. You’ll read it here way before The National Enquirer has it, but only if you wade through paragraphs of genocide.

Kristof explains Clooney’s decision to return to Chad [instead of attending the Oscars]:

Mr. Clooney figured that since cameras follow him everywhere, he might as well redirect some of that spotlight to people who need it more.

According to reports, Clooney is to meet with President Obama this week to discuss his trip.

Clooney has already called on President Obama to

“appoint a high-level, full-time diplomat to negotiate and work hard every day for a peace treaty.”

A meeting with President Obama?  Not a bad trade-off when you’ve already won an Oscar!

In other awards season genocide news, Sri Lankan singer M.I.A. made headlines when she performed at the Grammy Awards on her due date.  She made human rights headlines when she charged the Government of Sri Lanka with genocide just a few days later:

“There’s been a systematic genocide which has quiet thing because no one knows where Sri Lanka is. And now it’s just escalated to the point there’s 350,000 people who are stuck in a battle zone and can’t get out, and aid’s banned and humanitarian organizations are banned, journalists are banned from telling the story.”

(Hat tip to Amnesty USA).

On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister responded:

“M.I.A. is a great artist and we wish her well,” “But, sorry, I think she is misinformed and it’s best that she stays with what she’s good at, which is music. Not politics.”

“The Tamil people are our people. They are our brothers, they are our sisters, they live amongst us. I don’t think there is a problem that the Sinhalese have with Tamils. They do have a problem with the Tamil Tigers,” he said.

I side with Clooney and M.I.A. here – celebrities bring much needed attention to issues, and it’s frankly quite an insult for a government official to tell them to “stick to what they’re good at”.  I haven’t followed MIA’s analysis of international issues beyond this exchange, but Clooney has repeatedly offered thoughtful ideas and drawn attention to the crisis in Darfur in a way that is respectful of the politicians and diplomats who work full time on this, and the fact that his primary career is as an actor.  And check out what Maria Bello (an amazing actress who originally studied to be a human rights lawyer) has to say about rape and genocide before you dismiss celebrity involvement in these issues.

Finally – keep watching the Oscars to see how many films about the Holocaust win awards.  (Current count at 10:30 pm EST – 1, for Spielzeugland, Best Short Film.)

Photos from gallery of Mr. Clooney at the 2006 Academy Awards and an Getty photo of MIA at Highbrid Nation.

About Martha Heinemann Bixby

Advocacy. Politics. Life. Martha Heinemann Bixby.
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