Today, ThinkProgress spoke with ENOUGH Project co-founder John Prendergast and actor Ryan Gosling, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Half Nelson, and is currently writing and producing a film on child soldiers in Northern Uganda.
The two visited the Center for American Progress for an ENOUGH Project event on the ongoing conflict in Northern Uganda, sometimes called the “world’s worst forgotten crisis.” Here are some highlights from the conversation:
Prendergast on the Iraq war diverting resources from other global crises:
[Iraq is] like the giant sucking sound that you hear in the background just drawing away international attention and resources twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
Gosling on the State Department’s refusal to send even one high-level diplomat to deal with Uganda:
We were at the State Department this morning, we were sort of speaking with them about what they were doing and I think it’s a little frustrating for us because we feel like — they feel like they’re doing enough and obviously we feel like they could be doing more. Our hope is to sort of motivate enough people to push for a senior official or some sort of diplomat to go over and oversee the peace process and be involved and just have a presence there.
Gosling on criticism that he’s “using” the people of Africa to gain celebrity:
It’s a huge fear of mine, you know that I will bring any kind of negative attention to a situation that couldn’t be any worse. … I don’t want people to attach their opinions of me to the, to the issue, you know. I just am a guy, you know, who is having this amazing opportunity to work with these people and to go to these places.
Prendergast on Bill O’Reilly, who has attacked the work of other Africa activists like Don Cheadle and Angelina Jolie:
He’s [O'Reilly] just pandering for ratings. He doesn’t want to have a discussion, about Northern Uganda or Darfur or any of these issues. They more than anyone — these guys will use these kinds of issues as roadkill for ratings. … What’s really remarkable to me frankly is people like Ryan and Don Cheadle and George Clooney who, it doesn’t help their careers, by the way, to be working on these kinds of issues and to be spending a whole lot of time away from what they do, in order to go crusading around the world about issues that matter to them personally. … So I think there’s no negative, there’s no downside, and people that look for the downsides are sort of the debris, the barnacles, that feed off of this kind of stuff, and that’s how they get their ratings.
The ENOUGH Project is a new organization seeking to aggressively lobby Congress and raise awareness about crimes against humanity in Africa and around the world. Go HERE for more information on the civil war in Northern Uganda.
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