Friday, July 27, 2007

A Large-Hearted Woman

Hollywood activists are easy targets, often earnestly silly and self-congratulating, but a shining exception is Mia Farrow and her work to stop the genocide in Darfur. This week, her efforts provoked two world powers-—the People’s Republic of China and Steven Spielberg.

During the YouTube debate, Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, hemmed and hawed about diplomacy to stop the killing, clearly uneasy about a complex humanitarian crisis in far-off Africa (only Joe Biden was an angry exception) and exuded helplessness.

Not Mia Farrow. For three years, the 62-year-old waif-like actress has been devoting herself to traveling in Darfur, Chad and the Sudan, photographing and writing about the atrocities, running a web site about them and pressuring for activism to relieve the suffering.

One of her targets, Steven Spielberg, who is artistic director for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has now threatened to quit unless China, the Sudan’s largest oil customer, joins in the effort to stop the slaughter.

In the Wall Street Journal, Farrow and her son had written: "Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide?"

A diminutive woman, Farrow is an emotional powerhouse. Married to Frank Sinatra at 21, then to composer Andre Previn and after that in an all-but-married relationship with Woody Allen for almost two decades, she has fifteen children, eleven of them adopted.

She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, drawing attention to the fight to eradicate polio, which she survived as a child, and the plight of suffering children everywhere.

If there is any such person as the mythical Earth Mother, Mia Farrow is that and more.

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