Frontier Former Editor

March 31, 2008

Nothing new under the sun

Filed under: ancient history, doomed to repeat, history, humanism — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:29 am

No humor in this.

With all the relatively recent hue and cry over Darfur, Kosovo, Iraq and other places, I have to let my head drop a bit at the idea of young folk acting if somehow they have single-handedly discovered genocide as they wear their ‘save Darfur’ shirts and shout anti-war invective. All fine and well that they may be developing social conscience, but this obituary in Sunday’s International Herald Tribune is a reminder of how change remains the same.

Dith Pran, a photojournalist for The New York Times whose gruesome ordeal in the killing fields of Cambodia was re-created in a 1984 movie that gave him an eminence he tenaciously used to press for his people’s rights, died in New Brunswick, New Jersey on Sunday. He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, New Jersey

The cause was pancreatic cancer, which had spread, said his friend Sydney Schanberg.

Dith saw his country descend into a living hell as he scraped and scrambled to survive the barbarous revolutionary regime of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, when as many as two million Cambodians — a third of the population — were killed, experts estimate. Dith survived through nimbleness, guile and sheer desperation.

Many of us have probably thought we discovered cruelty in our world, but the true discovery is that cruelty has been around as long as we have.

It doesn’t mean the young – or the old for that matter – shouldn’t fight it, but making the fight a fad eventually creates numbness and short attention span.

When younger folk start protesting China’s behavior in Tibet this spring, they might want to consider just how long repression has been a part of life under the Chinese Communists and pretty much every regime and dynasty before them.

And, given mankind’s general record around the world, that’s just for starters.

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