A long time ago on a website far, far away, I took sportswriter Charlie Pierce to task for attacking Michael Jordan for no reason other than the fact that Charlie Pierce wanted to make a political point.
He's done it again. This time, his excuse for attacking Jordan is that LeBron James just gave the greatest performance in a NBA playoff game ever but, in April, had refused to sign an angry letter to the Chinese government protesting Chinese involvement in Darfur. This makes James like Jordan (in a bad way). The article is dumb, it stems from Pierce's conviction that what he does for a living is trivial, and that failing to agree with him politically is a moral failing. He doesn't mention that even having LeBron James send a letter to the Chinese government, even an angry letter, will have exactly no effect.
But let's think about Darfur for a moment. What's happening is inhuman and should be stopped, but what can we do. Our Rabbi is a Darfur activist. He has traveled there, he protests, he marches and he has put up a sign on the Temple. I'm sure that he would sign an angry letter to the Chinese government. We've donated some money to refugee relief and will probably donate some more. Nothing has changed.
The one thing that would change Darfur for the better would be for us to send in the troops, enforce a no-fly zone and carve off Darfur from Sudan. We're not going to do it. It's tempting to say that the one real cost of the Iraq has been that it has made it politically impossible to invade Iran or North Korea or even stage a humanitarian invasion in Darfur. But unfortunately I don't think we would have invaded in any event. In the end of the day, international humanitarianism is a null set meant to sooth our conscience rather than saved the afflicted.