I looked in vain in the news for some indication of what western leaders had attended Mr Kagame’s commemoration of the genocide in his country. Apparently there was a good reason for this. Apparently the prime minister of Belgium was the only one. Morgaine Lefaye has a good summary and commentary gathered from various sources.
My faith in the basic goodness of people is increasingly weakening. I really don’t want to believe that people intentionally do horrific things. I want to think that people are caught up in a mob and do things that they regret later. I want to believe that people get drunk and stupid, and one thing leads to another. I want to believe that they lack judgement in a moment of rage, and horrible things happen. These things, while still horrific, are slightly easier to accept.
To think that a government systematically planned genocide, and even imported the implements for this genocide months in advance, is simply more than my mind can grasp. I can’t understand the kind of depravity and hatred necessary to make that happen. And, even if I could accept that one brutally deranged person could do this, the idea that a planning committee existed for this sort of thing is mind boggling. How can that happen in our “enlightened” age.
The genocide trials in Rwanda are revealing things that make it sound like a committee of otherwise reasonable men sat around a board room table and carefully planned the murder of nearly a million people, then oversaw their plan being carried out in less than 100 days.
Conspiracy To Murder chronicles this series of events, with interview transcripts and documentation. The trials seem to indicate that a huge number of people were aware of what was planned, and have kept silent about it for the last 10 years. BBC is covering the trials fairly well.
It’s all very well to blame the UN for what happened, as many have done, but that would be utterly missing the point. Even if the UN had acted immediately, on the first day, hundreds of thousands of people would still have been hacked to death with machetes – machetes which were expressly imported for the purpose – before the first soldier could have been on the ground. No, this has nothing to do with the UN, although Annan has apologized profusely for not doing enough. This has to do with the Heart of Darkness.
I can’t begin to understand what would drive someone to plan such a mass murder. I further can’t begin to understand what would compell *thousands* of soldiers and civilians to go along with orders of such obvious evil, and hack men, women, and children to death while they were pleading for mercy. These things are so far from my understanding that I can sit here and write calmly about them. I expect that if I really understood even a tenth of the horror, I would not be able to retain my composure. I presume this is why nice rational moral people denied that the Holocaust was happening (or happened, depending on your timeframe). They simply could not get their minds around such horror. And if I can’t imagine it, it must not be happening.
I suppose it’s also why people don’t like “Lord of the Flies.” Even though I choose not to imagine it, it still might be lurking right below the surface.
Behind the finer feelings
This civilized veneer
The heart of a lonely hunter
Guards a dangerous frontier
The balance can sometimes fail
Strong emotions can tip the scale
(Rush – Lock and Key )
The stuff in the news continues to be perplexing. The Telegraph claims that Albanians posted as Serbs to commit some of the acts which sparked the violence. If this is indeed the case (and why would they lie, right?</sarcasm>) one would have to greatly mourn a society where people utterly indistinguishable in any other way, hate one another so greatly. In most of these kinds of situations, a member of one of the groups can clearly distinguish a member of the other group by characteristics that would be all but invisible to those of us outside the situation.
Regarding my remarks yesterday: Yes, I can see how they could have been taken as being callous, on another reading, and for that, I apologize to anyone whom I may have offended by those implications. I did not intend to deny the events. If anything I was acknowledging that they had surely happened, and was marvelling at their absense from news reports.
Yes, I did miss the remark acknowledging the retaliatory destruction of the mosque(s).
I suppose I don’t find it at all unusual to have one, or the other, or, more commonly, all parties, in any given situation, somewhat color the truth in order to make a horrible situation seem horrible only on one side. The media, then, will pick the bits of the story that they think will sell papers. I really don’t have any illusion that the media tells me the truth even as much as half of the time. It is for that reason that I don’t watch television news, don’t listen to radio news, and get my news by reading a selection of sources from news.google.com. Even then, it’s hard to miss that *most* of the stories come from the same sources, and most of the time even have the same phrasing. One comes to believe that it’s the news articles that contradict everyone else which are the true ones. And that, undoubtedly, leads me to some pretty radical views. Truth in media seems like an oxymoron most of the time.
And, inevitably, this skepticism extends to everything I read online. If it is on the internet, I question its veracity. I suppose that means I’m pretty much skeptical about everything I read. That’s pretty sad.
To a smaller extent I’m also questioning the interpretations of the motivation. Hatred, which was caused by religious differences centuries ago, has, in many cases, just become hatred, devoid of any religious motivation. Perhaps these people hate one another because they hate one another, because their parents hated one another, because *their* parents hated one another. This, combined with large groups of people that have the same history, leads to explosive events. Granted, this idea comes from out of US culture which is increasingly secular, and so may have nothing at all to do with what’s going on. But it was one of the ideas I was trying to air. The things that are happening certainly seem to have nothing to do with correct religious practice, on the part of either of the sides in the conflict. Yet it is happening. And, so, when people speak of a systematic, strategic, and planned destruction of particular targets, that smacks of conspiracy theory. Looks more like angry mobs to me. Angry mobs seek targets for their anger, and they do things that they regret when they are older.
The idea that Albanians posed as Serbs certainly supports the conspiracy theory. On the other hand, it could be teenage kids that got drunk, thought of a prank, and it got out of hand. I and always tend to attribute to stupidity, youth, and drunkenness things that many other folks tend to attribute to malicious planning and conspiracy.
Although various of my friends have mentioned that there’s widespread killing, and destruction of monasteries and churches in Kosovo – the Albanians doing this to the Serbians – I can’t find anything about this in the news.
There have been a couple vague mentions of violence and that 28 people were killed. I can’t find *any* mention of destruction of religious buildings, although I have looked in more than 4500 news sources.
Furthermore, the vague references to what’s going on all suggest that NATO is doing everything in their power to prevent further bloodshed, while the article referred to by the OCA folks seems to suggest that they are doing nothing.
I find all of this very odd/suspicious/strange/troubling. While I have come to mistrust – well, most of the time, actively disbelieve – the mainstream US media outlets, it would seem that looking at news.google.com on a regular basis would give me enough of a spread of new sources that the overall effect would be that I’d get at least most of the truth most of the time.
So, what’s actually going on over there, and who is putting the spin on things to advance their own particular agenda? Is the conflict primarily the latest incarnation of the ongoing ethnic war that’s been going on for a few hundred years (or since Ishmael, depending on how you count) or is this an organized Jihad?