Tag Archives: genocide

>Friday Potpourri

>There was a lot in the news this week:

1. Planner of Rwandan massacres convicted of genocide (Sukhdev Chhatbar And Donna Bryson, Associated Press, 18 Dec ’08)

“A former Rwandan army colonel was convicted Thursday of genocide and crimes against humanity for masterminding the killings of more than half a million people in a 100-day slaughter in 1994. Survivors in Rwanda welcomed the watershed moment in a long search for justice.”

2. Regulators adopt new credit card rules (Marcy Gordon, Ap Business, 18 Dec ’08)

“Federal regulators on Thursday adopted sweeping new rules for the credit card industry that will shield consumers from increases in interest rates on existing account balances among other changes.”

3. Gay leaders furious with Obama (Ben Smith, Nia-Malika Henderson, 17 Dec ’08)

“’I have many gay friends, I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church,’ [Rick Warren] said in a recent interview with BeliefNet.

“In the same interview, he compared the ‘redefiniton of a marrige’ to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.”

Note: It’s that last sentence that stands out to me. I’ve heard this jump before, and it bothers me. Where does this fear come from?

4. Fla. police close books on ’81 Walsh killing (Yahoo.com, AP, 16 Dec ’08)

The news:

“A serial killer who died more than a decade ago is the person who decapitated the 6-year-old son of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ host John Walsh in 1981, police in Florida said Tuesday. The announcement brought to a close a case that has vexed the Walsh family for more than two decades, launched the television show about the nation’s most notorious criminals and inspired changes in how authorities search for missing children.”

The good news:

“Adam’s death, and his father’s activism on his behalf, helped put faces on milk cartons, shopping bags and mailbox flyers, started fingerprinting programs and increased security at schools and stores. It spurred the creation of missing persons units at every large police department.

“‘In 1981, when a child disappeared, you couldn’t enter information about a child into the FBI database. You could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns but not stolen children,’ said Ernie Allen, president of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, co-founded by John Walsh. ‘Those things have all changed.’

“The case also prompted national legislation to create a national database and toll-free line devoted to missing children, and led to the start of ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ which brought those cases into millions of homes.”

The not-so-good news:

“What it also did, said Mount Holyoke College sociologist and criminologist Richard Moran, is make children and adults alike exponentially more afraid.”

>Ordinary Killers

>What lurks in the human psyche? To what level of depravity would I personally descend given the right (wrong) situation? It’s a hard question to ask, but I believe it’s worth the effort if we let the answer lead us to a commitment to peace and nonviolence.

As an undergrad psychology major, I was astounded to learn about Stanley Milgram’s shock experiment and Philip Zimbardo’s prison experiment. “Normal” people would do amazingly disturbing things to other humans with shocking expediency. Unbelievable. (Read more on Milgram: Milgram Experiment, Would I Pull That Switch?, Perils of Obedience.)

Recently, CNN.com published an article that again looked at this issue–They killed their neighbors: genocide’s foot soldiers (Courtney Yager, 10 Dec ’08).

The article begins, “Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic. They are household names, infamous for masterminding genocide. But who were the foot soldiers who did the dirty work?”

“In many cases they were equally notorious in their communities because they were the friends, neighbors and co-workers of those they raped, slaughtered and buried alive.”

It continues, “Experts have reached a troubling conclusion: It was actually very easy for the architects of genocide to find more than enough ordinary people to do the killing.

“Genocide is often the result of a ‘perfect storm.’ A country reeling from political and economic turmoil, a fanatical leader promising to make things better and a vulnerable population targeted for blame — all combine in a blueprint for mass murder.”

Read the full article and think about it for yourself. What attitudes and commitments would keep you from taking the easy path toward violence? How can we work for peace and justice for those in need of advocacy today?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:8)