Thursday, September 21, 2006


By Heraclitus

Greetings, all. I've just come from an extremely frustrating class, in which I seemed to be alone (well, one or two fellow travelers) in arguing that the U.S. should have intervened to stop genocide in Rwanda. The mixture of vulgar relativism and vulgar self-interest in the students' objections to that course of action were astounding. Who are we to impose our culture on them? Are you really so racist as the think that genocide is the "culture" of Africans? Are they such incorrigible savages that we can't or shouldn't stop the murder of 800,000 people--and that's the conservative estimate, it may have been over a million -- and the rape, brutalization, and displacement of countless others? It doesn't work when we prop up puppet governments to serve our own interests. Thank you, SeƱor Chavez. What material interest(s) of the United States would have been served by preventing genocide in Rwanda? Well, we don't want genocide, and that's our interest. Right, whereas those savages in Africa can't get enough genocide. I mean, there's got to be a reason it's called the Dark Continent, right (hint: it was because Africa was the last continent to be explored and mapped).

But my favorite, the absolute kicker, was the argument, if we went in, we would be opposed to one of the sides. YES! The side committing genocide!! That's what justice is--opposing injustice and protecting the victims of things like, I don't know, motherfucking genocide.

To be fair, some of the arguments put forth against intervention were somewhat more subtle or intelligent than this. But am I just a fanatic, and have I always just been a fanatic? (Well, yes, but please keep reading.) Am I crazy to expect sheltered 18 year-olds to be a little more idealistic than this? Or am I just turning into some kind of fire-breathing, neocon regime changer?

You wonder if some of them would be able to make any sense at all out of Casablanca.

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  • Followed the link from the Moderate Voice.
    I was 18, just like your students, when the Genocide in Rwanda was going down and I remember wondering why the hell we weren't doing anything and even feeling a little ashamed. I wasn't the only one either. Not that we did anything about it but at least we gave a shit.

    I wonder if this is a reaction to the interventionist policies of Bush & Co? Is it plain racism? or is college liberalism really just window dressing for moral cowardice?

    Not trying to be trollish, just asking

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:32 PM  

  • Kevin, I don't know what's going on. I probably shouldn't be too quick to generalize, based on the sixteen or so students I had in this one class. But I think the relativism is pretty widespread, even if it's only skin-deep. I think Bush's invasion of Iraq plays a large part in this, but that doesn't really excuse it, at least in my view. The principle of preventing genocide should be easy enough to separate from the principle of pre-emptive invasion. I hate to sound like Bill Bennett, but I think a large part of it is just the complete lack on any kind of moral education. I'm sure most of them could tell you how to score higher on the SATs, but they made arguments like, people would still die if we went it, because we would have to kill the people trying to committ genocide. You'd think that a distinction like that between guilt and innocence would be obvious enough to all, but apparently not. So I don't what all is involved, but it's still disturbing, at least to me.

    By Blogger ., at 1:34 PM  

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