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When Good Men Do Nothing: Rwandan Genocide

By , West St. Paul, MN
"The end of the superpower standoff lifted the lid from a cauldron of long-simmering hatreds. Now the entire global terrain is bloody with such conflicts, from Rwanda to Georgia. Whether we get involved in any of the world's ethnic conflicts in the end must depend on the cumulative weight of the American interests at stake." (Bill Clinton, May 25th, 1995)

Never have I been more ashamed to be an American.

I was born in America; I grew up on corn dogs and hamburgers like everyone else. America, to me, was a beacon of light, a wonderful place where everything that was wrong went right and everything that was bad went good. It was a place evil never touched.

In 1995, a civil war broke out between two different ethnicities in a small African country called Rwanda. When the Belgians invaded in the early 1900's, they choose th Tutsi's, the minority of Rwanda, as their government officials and favored them because they were supposedly, "taller and fairer" than their squatter cousins, the Hutu's, the majority of Rwanda. After the Belgians left, the tensions between the two groups simmered until it burst in the summer of 1995. The day after the President of Rwanda was killed in a mysterious plane crash, a Hutu rebel group began slaughtering Tutsi's.

The genocide lasted 100 days.

800,000 people were killed.

I have never been more ashamed to be an American.

Genocide (n): The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.

This is not a vague definition; it clearly explains what constitutes as genocide. So how did we ' Americans with dictionaries in every home, school, and office ' not see what was happening in Rwanda? How could we close our eyes to 800,000 people getting killed?

On May 25th, 1995, President Bill Clinton gave a speech that included the small excerpt printed above in this article. Some people might find it understandable that American and other Western powers refused to intervene in Rwanda after the terrible incident in Somalia, where 18 American soldiers were killed and dragged through the streets.

However, I doubt the families of the 800,000 Rwandans that died would understand.

My view of America has tarnished with learning about this piece of history that, until a few months ago, I hadn't even known existed. A genocide of nearly a million people occurred, and I didn't even know about it. America, in my opinion, has gotten too big. It's turned into a bully; one that cares about itself and only itself. The fact that we had our faces shoved into a genocide of 800,000 people and not even one American soldier was sent over to intervene truly shows how much our nation has declined. The fact that the Western powers refused, again and again, to send over reinforcements to intervene in this matter shows how greedy, self-absorbed, and arrogant we've become.

Shame on them. Shame on us.

The fact that we struggled to intervene; that we had to argue about it ' that shows how big and fat and childish our nation has become. We've turned our backs on the world, and we let 800,000 people die. 800,000. Think of your city. Think of your state. In some places of the world, that could even be your country. That's a hell of a lot of people dying, and the Western powers turned their backs on their corpses and pinched their nose to keep the smell away. We let those people die. And what's worse is that we can't even acknowledge that. We make up excuses for ourselves as if that will magically make the statistics disappear. As if that will get rid of bodies flowing down rives and children skulls being seen on the side of the road.

There is no escape from what we have done. We didn't kill those Rwandans ourselves, no, but we did something much worse.

We did nothing.

I have never been more ashamed to be an American.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)



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Babylufin said...
Aug. 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I have to agree.

There are many times, especially recently, when we should be ashamed to be an American.

This was very well written, a great topic, and certainly truthful.

Very good job.

Please take a look at some of my work?

 
Sri P. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2009 at 10:56 pm
Wow Simply Amazing
 
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