Executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard and author of A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power discusses her new book.
JERRY FOWLER: The mandate of the Committee on Conscience here at the Museum is to alert the national conscience and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of contemporary genocide or related crimes against humanity. It goes back to the very founding of the museum and the recommendation in 1979 to create a living memorial to victims of the Holocaust.The President’s Commission on the Holocaust, which was chaired by Elie Wiesel, felt very strongly that in order to honor the past a memorial to Holocaust victims had to be able to address contemporary threats of genocide, so I’m very privileged to be the staff director of the Committee on Conscience.
I know we want to get to our main act very quickly here with Samantha but I would encourage you on your way out if you haven’t seen it before as you go out the door to the right, outside our main auditorium is a special display on Sudan and the Committee on Conscience has issued a genocide warning for Sudan explained in this brochure which is available at the display. So I encourage you to pass by that.
Also I’m very happy that you’re all here. If you found out about today’s event through some way other than our listserv I would encourage you to go to our website, which is www.ushmm.org/conscience, and sign up for our listserv, and that’s a very easy and efficient way to keep track of events that we have at the museum.
The Committee on Conscience sponsors a number of events on specific issues such as Sudan and on the broader issue of genocide because if our goal and our mission are to contribute to preventing modern genocide we have to understand how it comes about and understand what are the obstacles to effective responses during the Holocaust, what were the things that made it difficult for the United States to respond, and I think that general issue of how do you deal with these problems from hell is the issue that Samantha has dealt with in her book -- which I would say also is available for sale upstairs after the event in our bookstore -- in a very personal way, in a way that focuses on individuals who had to grapple with the challenge of opposing and attempting to stop genocide. She has told a tale that addresses very difficult policy issues but personalizes them in a way that is remarkable. So we’re very, very fortunate today to have Samantha Power talk about America and the age of genocide.