Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Does The Phrase 'Never Again' Mean ANYTHING?

The story of North Korea's gas chambers is starting to spread. The 'civilized world's response is atrociously inadequate.

TWO WORDS -- "never again" -- sum up the most important lesson that civilized men and women were supposed to have learned from the 20th century. It is forbidden to keep silent, forbidden to look the other way, when tyrants embark on genocide and slaughter -- if Auschwitz and Kolyma and the Cambodian killing fields taught us nothing else, they taught us that.

Or so, at any rate, we like to tell ourselves. As Samantha Power discovered upon returning to the United States after two years as a war correspondent in Bosnia, the lesson of "never again" is invoked far more often than it is applied.
So tell me, friends: what exactly does Never Again mean?
"Did `never again' simply mean `never again will Germans kill Jews in Europe between 1939 and 1945?"
Hmmm, I don't think so. Somehow I got the impression that it was meant as a broad, overriding moral philosophy. 'Never Again Will We Stand By While Those Around Us Are Slaughtered' - that sort of thing. Well, it's happening again, people, and wishful thinking won't make it go away.
"I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber. The parents, a son, and a daughter." The speaker is Kwon Hyuk, a former North Korean intelligence agent and a one-time administrator at Camp 22, the country's largest concentration camp. His testimony was heard on a television documentary that aired last week on the BBC. "The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing."
Jeff Jacoby:
Gas chambers. Poisoned food. Torture. The murder of whole families. Massive death tolls. How much more do we need to know about North Korea's crimes before we act to stop them? How many more victims will be fed into the gas chambers before we cry out "never again!" -- and mean it?
Sorry Jeff - the world's moral conscience is taking the decade off. Just like it has for the last five.
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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