Monday, March 06, 2006

In Memoriam: Aslan Maskhadov (d. 06 March, 2005)

What do you think of when you hear the word genocide? It’s a word that I think we are all familiar with, but could any of us actually define it if we were asked?
The first thing that I think of when I hear the word genocide is Rwanda. I think of how horrified I was when I watched Hotel Rwanda last year. But I don’t know that I could define genocide. I guess I would say that genocide is the systematic murder of a group of people based on their ethnicity or their religious beliefs.
Too bad the UN has only declared genocide twice in the past 15 years (I think). The systematic murder of more than 100,000 people in Darfur, the systematic murder of who knows how many people in Chechnya, somehow that doesn’t count.
And the US isn’t helping matters. We pushed a little bit on Darfur last year, but there hasn’t been any discussion since Kofi Annan expressed his “grave concern” (I abhor that phrase), and called a committee to look into the matter. Of course, the committee found that no genocide was taking place. All they found was, “Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated”.
Chechnya is another matter entirely. When it does come up, all Putin will say is that we (the US) have our “War on Terror”, and he has his “War on Terror”. And who can deny him that? Shamil Basayev has made Putin’s case for him. All Putin has to do is point to Beslan (am I the only one who was annoyed when President Bush mentioned Beslan in this year’s State of the Union Speech as if it was tied to our “War on Terror”?), or to Dagestan, or to Kabardino-Balkaria, and a whole lot more.
Of course, the ordinary people of Russia do not care. They’re more worried about China and making sure they have enough money to buy food to put on the table (if they can find the food). I cannot say that I blame them, but it makes me wonder, what about moral depravity? An individual’s moral depravity affects everyone. A society’s moral depravity is not to be tolerated.
Because if we do tolerate an individual’s or a society’s moral depravity, what does that say about us? Are we not then morally depraved as well, and culpable?

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