Thanksgiving is our most satisfying holiday. It's still untouched by the dead hand of commercial exploitation, and remains the Proustian feast for adults of all ages. The day recalls the aromas of a plump turkey stuffed with egg bread dressing browning in a grandmother's oven, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and the best pie crusts in the world overflowing with pumpkins, apples or pecans. Cousins fill the house with the noise of happy play, and everyone makes over newcomers to the family crawling to the lullabies streaming from tiny music boxes.
So excuse me for being the spoilsport this year. In the midst of abundance, this is the right time to call to the attention of those who sup at American feasts the plight of others who suffer pain unimaginable. Evil men have exiled innocents to death camps, raping, castrating, torturing and killing in wholesale numbers men, women and children who have been forced from their homes in Chad and the Sudan and driven to shacks and hovels to survive without food, water or medicine.
Darfur/Darfur, words that in another time and place might be set to music, is an organization that monitors a tragedy. Theirs is a mournful dirge. D/D has joined with the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington in a haunting project for this week of Thanksgiving to bring attention to genocide. For seven nights the museum's outside walls reflect moving photographs of black men, women and children whose sunken eyes stare out on the Mall with pain, despair and hopelessness. They're the lucky ones. They have survived, but at a price. The face of a 3-year-old bashed beyond recognition by the butt of a gun, and men, women and children with bodies shattered by bullets are too grisly for public display. We see young women gathering firewood, the desperation of reaching for the bare essentials of life written across their beautiful faces.
The Holocaust Museum takes its mission seriously. It not only memorializes the inhumanity of a genocide past but strives to make the public aware of new atrocities in the human family. In July 2004, the Museum's Committee on Conscience declared a "Genocide Emergency for Darfur." The digitally projected slide show will travel to other cities, to ask spectators a simple question: "Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?" It's a question the most powerful nations in the world have been unable to answer. The United Nation's Human Rights Council is too busy condemning Israel to agree even on a resolution to condemn brutality in Darfur.