Rocky: America is blind to tragedies |

Rocky: America is blind to tragedies

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The cry after the Holocaust was ‘Never again.’

In the decades since, though, the ideal to make sure the atrocities are not repeated has been abandoned, says Rocky Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City and now a human-rights activist.

Anderson, who is scheduled to speak at Temple Har Shalom on Friday, says the U.S. generally does not intervene when killing takes root elsewhere. He talks about places like Cambodia, Rwanda and the Darfur region of Sudan. He says the U.S. did little in Bosnia in the early days of the horrors in the former Yugoslavia.

"We’ve betrayed that promise in almost every instance," Anderson says, contending that the U.S. turned a "blind eye to these tragedies" and has also largely ignored the misery of human trafficking.

Anderson, an attorney, is now the executive director of High Road for Human Rights, a not-for-profit group based in Salt Lake City that he founded. The group is organizing chapters elsewhere in the U.S., and Anderson estimates seven have been formed in places like New York, Washington, D.C., California and the Northwest.

He says the U.S. declines to become involved in the faraway atrocities because regular Americans do not press leaders for action. He said Washington usually reacts when people demand action. But grass-roots efforts to stop the tragedies sometimes do not gain momentum because people are unaware of what is occurring or unsure what the U.S. could accomplish.

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Anderson urges action in the Darfur region of Sudan. He says the U.S. should provide leadership and support the International Criminal Court in its efforts in prosecuting war crimes stemming from the conflict in Darfur.

He says the U.S. should engage in a "major divestment campaign" in Sudan and continue sanctions on the African country.

"Political boundaries, distance, doesn’t alter the moral responsibility we have to our brothers and sisters," Anderson says.

Anderson, who is a Democrat, was the mayor of Utah’s largest city for two terms highlighted by the 2002 Winter Olympics and the dispute about the Main Street plaza in Salt Lake City.

He is one of Utah’s most polarizing politicians, though, and he was a critic of former President George W. Bush and the Iraqi war.

Parkite Jill Sheinberg, who is on the board of directors of one of the programs of High Road for Human Rights, says Anderson’s presentation is expected to last 30 or 40 minutes. He will take questions afterward.

Anderson’s remarks are scheduled to begin at approximately 7:40 p.m., after Sabbath services. He will speak in the synagogue’s social hall.