Uncivil Discourse

Because civility is overrated.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cambodian Holiday

Robert Mugabe is not Pol Pot. Not the fuck at all. In fact, he's completely goddamned different. I'm glad you've all seen The Killing Fields (though apparently you didn't really pay much attention), but, yes, Pol Pot engaged in genocide. In fact, he did more than just target a particular group, such as the Chams; the cocksucker sought to kill everyone that wasn't a Cambodian Khmer. That's some ethnic cleansing. Not only that, but there was out and out ideological cleansing, too. Anyone who might possibly have been "tainted" by the West was summarily shot (there's a damned fine anecdote about a group of Vietnamese Khmers who defected from the South Vietnamese Army to try to hook up with the Khmer Rouge, who proceed to execute them for a) being Vietnamese and b) having been corrupted by Americans). Mugabe is not engaging in genocide. Rwanda was an attempted genocide. Zimbabwe is not Rwanda, any more than the fighting in the Congo was genocidal. No groups are being targeted for extermination. He's not even rounding up people to be shot, not even on the bases of having glasses of speaking a foreign language.

Of course, I only noticed right-wingers (as a group, there are of course individual exceptions) getting up in arms over Mugabe when he started repossessing the land of white farmers. (To be fair, Joe Katzman at Winds of Change is not a right winger. Apparently he just feels really really bad about The Killing Fields.) Which fits a pattern, given they only got up in arms over Darfur when evangelical Christian groups started getting bothered that it was, in fact, Christians in Darfur who were being attacked by the janjaweed, and they only got irritated at the gross human rights abuses of the Taliban after they supported a bunch of folks who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Even when the Talibs bulldozed the statues of Buddha, there was a collective shrug (to be fair, from most people in the country, not just right wingers).

And yes, it is true Pol Pot shipped fuckloads of Cambodians out of the cities to work in the fields, to help further his insane Maoist fantasyland. This is one tactic he used. Mugabe, however, is not a Maoist, and he's not engaged in any sort of ethnic cleansing (because if he were, by god, you'd hear the conservatives go on about the poor whites being slaughtered in the streets...it'd bounce off every wall).

It's about corruption, through and through, and nothing more. It's tragic, yes, of course, but don't compare it to Cambodia, for the same reason Elie Wiesel refused to indulge in Holocaust comparisons after he toured refugee camps in Macedonia. One doesn't need to draw analogies; horror is horror. The horror of Kosovo can stand on its own ground, as can the horror of the killing fields, the horror of Rwanda, or the horror of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. There's no need to draw forth external contexts. Mugabe is starving his own people for political purposes. He's destroyed almost all of Zimbabwe's social infrastructure. He's taken what was one of the best educated countries in Africa and run it into the ground for his own glory. He's a complete scumbag. But he's not genocidal, and it's fucking inappropriate to compare him to Pol Pot.

But I don't know if we can expect much more from a group that calls feminists "feminazis" or refers to abortion as "The American Holocaust." Remember when Grover Norquist compared the "fairness" of the estate tax to "the morality of the Holocaust"? It makes sense. I'm sure you can see the analogy. After all, the government chooses to take money only from certain extremely rich dead people, and the Nazis chose to round up only the Jews, homosexuals, and Gypsies (and a few other groups, like Slavs, etc) to be thrown into the death camps. Perfectly analogous, wouldn't you agree?

Or how about when Bob Novak said, on the Democratic proposal to not filibuster certain judges, "[It's] like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say, We're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person." So fortunately for Judges Brown and Owens, they can stay on the train past Auschwitz. Unfortunately for the others, they get to go to the gas chamber, compliments of Harry Reid. It's a fairly common rhetorical device for these fuckers. Godwin's rolling in his grave.

Christ, and they get all pissy when Amnesty makes a piss-poor comparison of Gitmo to the gulags. It's not like they haven't been doing the same or worse for ages. Only just recently we've seen the Khmer Rouge's ascendency blamed on those who opposed Nixon.

It's also funny when they go on about how Amnesty and other human rights groups have been too busy attacking America to take notice of the real tragedy in Zimbabwe. Y'know, except for all of the actions Amnesty has taken against Mugabe and for the whole section of the 2005 report on Zimbabwe.

I've said it before: we need to be more responsible with our comparisons. Amnesty calling Gitmo "the gulag of our time" was stupid for rhetorical purposes, but it was also idiotically inappropriate, particularly given there are worse excesses the US engages in (see extraordinary rendition). But these fuckers will go on about that while simultaneously doing the same thing, or often, worse. These comparisons cheapen horrors we need to understand and learn from. Why can't they listen to Elie Wiesel? These analogies aren't necessary. Show some fucking restraint, you cockmongers. Maybe if you actually gave a shit about human rights (because anyone who thinks Bush is some sort of crusader for human rights worldwide clearly doesn't), you would know better. I'm glad you're paying attention to the problem, whatever it is that it took, because this shit's important. But don't pull this type of crap while you're at it; it's not necessary.

And for those of you who are interested in learning more about the tragedy in Cambodia, I suggest reading The Road to the Killing Fields: The 1970-1975 Cambodian War by Wilfred Deac and The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979. For Zimbabwe, this is a brief but good starting point, including an unflattering comparison of Mugabe to the apartheidist ruler of Southern Rhodesia, Ian Smith.