Watch Hotel Rwanda, think Sudan

The critically acclaimed major motion picture Hotel Rwanda recently came out in DVD. Aside from the Academy Awards snubs, Hotel Rwanda is one of the best films made this past year and certainly the most important.

The movie, set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, tells the story of Paul Rusesabagina, a manager at a first-class hotel in Rwanda who turned his five-star outfit into a refuge for Rwandans attempting to escape the genocide. The story-though it smartly shies from in-your-face violence-is told with incredible accuracy. The movie is an emotionally draining experience, leaving most viewers exhausted and teary-eyed by the end. It is an eye-opening tale of what can happen to the weak when the strong and capable turn their backs. Most viewers labeled the movie a very depressing and sad story, but at the end I took a different view of what the movie represented to me. It showed that in the absolute worst of times, the very best of the human spirit comes out in special people.

Right now in Darfur, Sudan, there are horrific acts of genocide occurring, much like what occurred in the beginning stages of the Rwandan genocide not so long ago; we need that good human spirit to come out in people across the nation to take a stand and ensure we don’t let our country turn its back on mass deaths once again. We entered the largest war this earth has ever seen due to the genocide of six million Jews; one million Africans were killed in Rwanda and we watched from a TV screen and pushed a resolution through the Security Council to pull out the small number of UN troops that were there to begin with.

President Clinton dropped the ball in 1994. He let one million innocent people die on his watch for fear of political reprisal if another Somalia occurred. Now President Bush is on guard, I hope he has the courage to do what is right. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Estimates say that almost 400,000 people have already been killed in Sudan-as of today evil is triumphing. How many more deaths should it take for action to be merited? My answer is simple: none. There are a lot of good men out there right now standing around doing nothing. Whisper in their ears, talk to your friends, take a stand.

Don Donelson can be contacted at