Yeah, so that happened. 

Yesterday, I got the opportunity to to attend a Congressional hearing about the Democratic Republic of Congo — where my colleague was testifying on a panel with Ben Affleck. 

Affleck is more of a “regular face” in DC than other A-listers but I was still excited. I think it’s really awesome that he is using his star power to bring awareness to this country so near and dear to my heart. (Backgrounder from Heritage on this stuff here.)

Congo is SO forgotten and misunderstood by most people and he at least gets the word out a little bit more. I was floored by how little Members of Congress in the room knew about the conflicts there. I mean, we were really doing Congo 101 in there.

While I can’t blame our leaders for not knowing every thing about every country, especially when we are dealing with many pressing domestic issues, it’s still hard to believe.  One Member said he’d never heard of any of this until yesterday. Wow.

Ben Affleck testifies with Jendai Frazer and my colleague, James Carafano.

Additionally, when I posted this information amongst the conservative political crowd, many of them were downright hostile that we would even consider helping this country because of our country’s economic problems. I get it but I am really outraged at the ignorant responses I saw via social media yesterday. People were putting down Ben Affleck just because he’s from Hollywood — as if a famous person can’t have true concern and passion for an important cause.

One commentator tried putting these ignorant ones in their place with this: 

If they were all white, the Nazi Holocaust wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the history of the world. However, because the Congolese people don’t have control over our entertainment industry, the Holocaust is the worst thing in history. All the rare metals that you use in your electronic devices, were extracted from the Congo in the name of rape and slaughter. Our own CIA was equally responsible for killing that countries savior, Patrice Lumumba. I’d say we have a huge responsibility there. I don’t agree with Ben Affleck politically, but I do agree with his work in the Congo. It’s not Ben Affleck that irritates you, it’s that he steps up, and that makes you feel inadequate.

I don’t know if I’m wholedheartedly with this guy on every comment here but he sure makes a good point. People simply do not know the sickening, merciless, violent, evil slaughter than has taken place in this country and around it. Think 20 kids getting killed last week was bad? Try having an entire village of them killed in front of their mothers and then chopped to pieces and hung up as trophies. And that’s just in one morning.  It happened over and over. The adults had it worse — especially the women. Imagine ignoring a country were 90% of women are violently raped — that’s a astronomical number. 

But we shouldn’t care about this country? It makes me sick. Even if people think we don’t have the money to help, at least admit you have a heart for what’s happening. Ben Affleck is doing a GREAT thing by speaking out for Congo and doing what he can. I believe he is truly passionate about it. I capture this clip from him speaking the hearing and it’s worth a listen (last half is best): 

So, while it was cool to shake Ben Affleck’s hand and tell him THANK YOU for what he is doing to bring awareness, it was cooler to know that he really cares and his voice IS making a difference. 

Anyone that wrote this off ought to get out their checkbook and donate personally to one of these organizations — because we obviously can’t give enough as a government — but we can maybe help one person at a time through these hard working places that are trying desperately to make a difference. 

I’m guessing most people didn’t get this far. Oh well. I had this on my heart and I had to get it out somewhere. I know it’s hard to see the plight of people so far off in a misunderstood place but I aim to bring awareness myself. If one person can help because of this post, I’ve done my job. 

Please don’t write these countries off. Please think beyond yourselves. Please don’t stereotype people or hate on them just because they are famous or liberal or conservative or Democrat or Republican. Thanks.

*Post-Script: I KNOW we need to use our (federal & personal) money effectively, meaning the current strategy for delivering government funds is not working. This must be re-assesed, part of why the panel was happening yesterday. We should NOT continue giving money if it’s being squandered. However, we must find a way to make it work.

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