The flier in my mailbox had all the indications that it was written by a 15 year old girl--the "bubbly" letters, the lack of any planned presentation, the youthful yet naive enthusiasm. Buy Chipotle and/or McDonald's at lunch, it exhorts, and help feed people in Darfur!
If you don't know what or where Darfur is, go to Instapundit (see blogroll at left) and type Darfur into the search engine there (scroll down, it's on the right). You'll see post after post, going back a couple of years, chronicling the story that most of the mainstream press has all but ignored: a civil-war-induced famine of epic proportions. Read about the murders of towns, the systematic rape, everything you expect in a Rwanda-like African horror.
And then marvel at the irony of scarfing down a huge burrito to help the starving, terrorized people there.
There's nothing we're going to do to help those people. There are two groups of people eating in Darfur--the government soldiers with firearms, and the militia soldiers with firearms. Everyone else goes hungry. If you want to help the helpless there, send them firearms so that they, too, can eat.
I mentioned that to a few of my classes, and it wasn't long before the instigator of this food sale was in my classroom wanting to talk to me. She was mortified--mortified!--that she didn't have faculty support for this good cause. She'd called the White House and left a message for the President, asking him to "do something". I mean, she cares!
I don't fault the girl (who may or may not be 15, but she's close) for her youthful idealism. I fault her for making a mistake that will cause huge problems later in her life. As I told her, "Think with your brain. Feel with your heart." When you try to think with your heart you do stupid things, like she's doing now. I have no doubt she truly cares, but she doesn't know what she's talking about.
Here are a few things she told me:
1. I don't know enough about the world. A teenage girl told me this. I suppressed a chuckle.
2. The reason we (the US) don't do anything about this is because there's no oil there. I wasn't aware that there was no oil in the Sudan--someone should let the Chinese know.
3. The reason we (the US) aren't doing anything about Iran is because there's no oil there.
4. The reason we invaded Iraq was to take the oil--which explains low gas prices over the last year, I guess.
Bottom line, the girl feels strongly about the issue but doesn't know a thing about what she's talking about.
The short conversation left the realm of the rational and entered the twilight zone when she asked me if I'd have done anything to stop the Holocaust. Can you see where this is going? I told her that a bake sale at a high school would have done nothing to stop the Holocaust. You know what did stop the Holocaust? Armed men. Millions of armed men. American, British, Commonwealth, Soviet soldiers--they stopped the Holocaust. Men with firearms cause a lot of problems in the world, but men with firearms also solve a lot of problems in the world. Want to help the people of Darfur? Give them weapons.
She stormed out. Her parents later called the office and complained that I was undermining their daughter's project. One of our Vice Principals, for whom I have a lot of respect, asked if I was telling my students not to participate in the fundraiser. No, I said, I told them if they want a burrito or a Big Mac then they should by all means go buy one, but if they think a cent of that money is going to help the starving in Darfur they are mistaken. He said I shouldn't have addressed the issue since it's officially sanctioned by the student government and school administration. I told him that if I can't even address in class things that are going on in school.... I didn't address it after we spoke.
The school newspaper came out the next period, and in it was an article about Darfur. A student came to me later in the day and said that if I hadn't told him the day before about what's really going on in Darfur, he'd have bought the article's slant hook, line, and sinker. He thanked me for giving him an opposing view by which he could better judge for himself what's going on.
Some will no doubt question my actions. But look at that result.
Update: 3/2/06: At least I was talking about a school event. This time. :-)