'Never Again' in North Korea? Think Again
Time to Test North Korea
By Walt Handelsman
Perhaps it would be better if we simply vowed to never again say "never again" when it comes to the sort of slaughter and institutionalized cruelty we associate with the Holocaust. Then again, taking the sting out of hypocrisy wouldn't do much for the people of
For decades now, we've known that what's going on in
A new report by the
If the answer to Power's sardonic question is yes, then America and the West should be proud of their record. If we mean that when faced in our own time with the reality of such organized evil we will heed the "never again" lesson, than we have a lot to be ashamed of.
In his recent visit to Buchenwald, the Nazi death camp, President Obama insisted that we must "bear witness" to the evil of the Holocaust. Such platitudes are the stuff of every president and potentate who visit such places. And that's fine. It's what we are supposed to say. But we are also supposed to mean it. After all, it's easy to say we must bear witness to things that have already happened and promise to "never forget" the sins of others and our own good deeds.
But what of things figuratively happening under our noses and literally transpiring a click away on our computer screens? You can see the slave camps in
Ask yourself: What if Buchenwald were a mouse click away?
Our collective, bipartisan failure to deal with the human suffering in
That is hardly a trivial argument. But it's looking less compelling every day. Republican and Democratic presidents alike have failed to disarm
Meanwhile, North Korean nuclear brinkmanship and ballistic saber rattling guarantee that outside governments will not exert an ounce of effort on the ongoing humanitarian crisis. "Talking to them about the camps is something that has not been possible,"
Secretary of State
Seen through the window of nuclear diplomacy, Clinton's neo-Bushian stance is entirely defensible. Seen through a moral prism, it's at worst a horror and at best a profound failure to bear witness.
There are no easy or risk-free solutions. But maybe a good place to start would be for the U.S. government to act as if "never again" meant something -- when it matters.
(C) 2009 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.