An exceedingly excellent article in the New Yorker (surprising, given the lessons contained within) on the trial of Khmer Rouge killer Kaing Guek Eav a.k.a. “Duch” as seen through the eyes of journalist Thierry Cruvellier. The setup to the interview of Cruvellier has this interesting nugget:
Duch wasn’t one of the masterminds, but he was their zealous servant, and he was entrusted with the command of S-21, the prison where Khmer Rouge cadres were sent to be purged. The purges were constant. While ordinary Cambodian civilians were killed on an industrial scale and without ceremony, it was Duch’s mission to insure that everyone held at S-21 was broken down until they confessed to counter-revolutionary crimes—working for the C.I.A., say, or for the K.G.B., or for both, even though most prisoners had never heard of either agency before Duch’s torturers went to work—and then he had them slaughtered.
Duch didn’t expect to survive the revolution: he had sent most of his own mentors to their deaths, and, by the logic of S-21, his time, too, would come to confess and be condemned.
Thankfully, America is not Cambodia and no one is being put to death for their beliefs, but the mentality behind the likes of Duch is alive and well in the West where on a daily basis, celebrities, athletes, politicians and other members of the glitterati are forced to apologize for their beliefs and made, one way or another, to abandoned those beliefs for that of the Ayatollahs of Pop Culture. No, no one is killed in the literal sense, but nevertheless, America is home to a bloodsport of ruining lives that are lived out in the grand arena of fame and fortune. Many point out the folly of going along with such authoritarian actions for, ultimately, no one will be safe from the politically correct gulag. Duch always suspected the tables would be turned on him one day, and yet, it all made sense to him.
Where does this mentality come from? Another interesting snippet where Cruvellier is asked about left-wing vs. right-wing tribunals:
“There is a historical lineage between the far left and the human-rights movement. In the nineteen-sixties, after Stalin’s terror was widely acknowledged; in the seventies, after Solzhenitsyn’s denunciation of the Gulag; and then, finally, in the eighties, after the horrors of Pol Pot were fully revealed, many Western intellectuals moved from the discredited and disgraced Marxism-Leninism to the ideals of universal human rights. As opposed to the boredom of prosaic reforms, advocating for human rights is, in its own way, another grandiose and poetic enterprise where we, as a people, fight against exploiters. As the French philosopher Raymond Aron astutely noted, human rights, as a political philosophy, is based on a notion of purity. It’s not about taking responsibility for a decision “in unpredicted circumstances, based on incomplete knowledge”—that’s politics, said Aron. Instead, human rights function as a refuge for utopia.
“What was interesting to observe at the Khmer Rouge tribunal was that former Western Maoists or fellow-travellers were not transformed, when they became disillusioned with Communism, into skeptical minds. They now presented themselves as human-rights defenders. The appeal of “pure” ideologies seemed irresistible to them. Revolutionaries get indignant about police abuse or ruthless capitalism, and then forgive, in the name of the revolution, every injustice they had otherwise denounced. Interestingly, the moral indignation of human-rights activists can suddenly be silenced when institutions that they helped create and that were supposed to exemplify their ideals—such as international war-crimes tribunals—start violating the very principles they have claimed to stand for. They say that criticism would serve the “enemies” of justice. They begin to accept that the end justifies the means. Double standards widely apply. The drive that often made them efficient when they worked in a hostile environment now, when they are empowered, transforms into an intransigence that can make them very insensitive to realities that don’t fit their ideological paradigm. International tribunals can be a harsh reminder that injustice and unfairness are not incompatible with humanist intentions.”
Ruminate on that.