Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Genocide Fills The Air of History

How do you know if you have stumbled upon an atrocity or an act of war? A holocaust or what pathologists refer to as a bludgeoning? The smell would hit you before you saw it. The smell of human flesh mixed with the acrid wind and smoke, the sound of flies turning to maggots, you’d smell the body cavity opened, the viscera. The real question is how a reporter could walk upon something like that and report it as a skirmish, or that the ongoing quest for identification will take some time.
Death camps like Omarska, Treblinka, or Dachau don’t just spring up overnight, the worst of all being Auschwitz. The hatred it takes to commit the acts in Rwanda is never just under the surface. When you read about a mass grave you believe that you can picture it. A big hole freshly dug with bodies thrown in on top of the other and someone either standing there who is guilty or someone taking photographs and investigating it. That is what comes to mind at first but you have to go a bit deeper than that. Where did it all start? Not who was the first to die but who was first to give birth to the idea? The killings in Iraq and in Afghanistan border on the tens of thousands but how will we ever know? The absence of information and the deliberate denial of action by an army such as that of the United States which at one time discovered the Nazi death camps reminds one of the sickening phrase, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Which is worse not knowing history and repeating it, or knowing full well and doing it anyway?

- Chris Mansel

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