Now that George Clooney got arrested (and got out on a nominal $100 fine) along with a few other campaigners while ‘raising awareness’ on war crimes in Sudan, people who should know better (like NAACP president, Ben Jealous) are drawing comparisons to those who protested outside the Apartheid South Africa’s embassies and consulates. Jealous even added that this was a message to the Sudanese president, who will undoubtedly be moved by the thought that the “United States Congress is watching.” Not surprising Sudan’s Embassy took little time in mocking Clooney. They released a statement calling Clooney’s arrest a “show that could possibly earn him yet another Golden Globe.”

Clooney’s father, journalist Nick Clooney, told reporters afterwards that the Sudanese “drama” has “scarred” both him and his son for many years now, while Clooney himself spoke charmingly about how the “rainy season” is about to be on its way, preventing food aid from getting to needy villagers who were getting bombed by their own maniacal government. Clooney’s been getting lots of attention this week. Every media outlet now reports on Sudan. Even PBS, not normally known for asking celebrities about foreign policy were mesmerized by Clooney.

Here’s a PBS presenter telling Clooney (sitting next to Enough Project’s John Prendergast) “you’ve been consumed by this issue.” Clooney then talks again about the rainy season and how the Nuba people live in villages and “are the oldest society on earth if you’re reading the Bible”:

Enough Project also shot a gruesome video with Clooney in the Nuba mountains. No one can argue that an aggressor regime (as Sudan does) should stop “using food as a weapon; stop slaughtering innocent men, women and children; and stop spitting in the face of the world community,” as Democratic Representative from Massachusettes, Jim McGovern said.

The renewed interest in Africa and its war criminals, including the now famous Joseph Kony, brings to mind that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has a disproportionate number of Africans on its hit list. (This week the ICC arrived at its first verdict in years–as Angelina Jolie watched in court–in 10 years when it sentenced a Congolese war criminal for conscripting children. But as This is Africa asked recently, “‘Hold on. Is it really possible that only Africans commit crimes against humanity?’ That seems unlikely, so why then is the ICC focusing its efforts exclusively on Africa?” Or has the ICC become “a stick with which the west can continue to beat Africa and put it in its place,” with the aid of a host of celebrity drumbeaters, the latest of whom is Clooney? And why is there never any mention of America’s craven refusal to join the ICC?

As long as the famous and the powerful in the U.S. (who don’t have to fear being arrested on nominal charges) are taking such a public stance against African dictators, let’s make sure that war criminals in the U.S. itself–those who unleashed destruction on innocents away from the concerned eyes of Congress and Hollywood–are similarly hounded. But perhaps a call for fair prosecution of all human rights abusers wouldn’t help garner the same adoration from CNN reporters.

Further Reading