October 29, 2004, The Halifax Herald Limited

Humanity's terrorist heritage still haunts us

OVER THE EONS, billions of humans have perished at the hands of fanatical psychopaths, or nations controlled by them. History is filled with tales of their atrocities. It's my belief that this legacy is the root cause of the tragedy in Darfur, Sudan, and other horrors unravelling today.

Warring nations, to ease their consciences, use "collateral damage," a self-forgiving term, to describe the innocents they kill and maim after they bomb enemy cities. On the other hand, individual lunatics, or groups of them, deliberately target such innocents. But, after all is said and done, aren't the results the same?

For tens of centuries, many European nations were governed by murderous fanatics who, without conscience, inflicted horrific suffering on the populations of all habitable continents. Only in the last 50 years or so has their grip on power declined.

Unconscionably, with the exception of Nazi Germany's excesses and a few other horrific incidents, many of the horrors that these nations committed worldwide, although well documented, are not openly discussed. For instance, in their writings, they all but ignore the crimes against humanity that their ancestors committed during and after their forceful displacement of the Americas' indigenous peoples, while colonizing them with Europeans. This fact cannot be found in any school curriculum: By the time Europeans had finished their conquest of the Americas, the civilizations of two continents lay in ruins - tens of millions slaughtered, the worst genocide in human history!

In fairness, it must be said they did not restrict their terrorizing activities to other continents; they also vigorously carried them out in Europe. This desire to commit mayhem motivated them - while carrying out their wars, inquisitions, rebellions, impositions of radical political systems upon unwilling populations, and so on - to use evil genius to invent a multitude of horrendous instruments and methods to kill and torture people. During the 20th century alone, well over 100 million Europeans died from these activities.

Humanity has also, but not on the European scale, produced many evil monsters from nations of colour. For instance, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Mao callously dispatched millions of souls.

Many motivating factors drive such perpetrators of horror; but greed, envy, racial and religious intolerance, thirst for domination, desire to impose alien political systems on others, and blind hate are at the forefront. I sometimes wonder if these vile sins are the values of modern civilization.

The desire to kill and terrorize hasn't abated much with the passage of time.

The destruction of New York's World Trade and Convention Center was one of the most spectacular planned acts of terror ever committed in peacetime. However, its horror pales in comparison to other not-so-spectacular recent acts of terror, ones that could have been prevented by the intervention of the so-called civilized world, or at least considerably mitigated.

For example, in Rwanda, several hundred thousand, perhaps a million, died terrifying deaths while "civilization" turned a blind eye. In Srebrenica, Bosnia, while mighty NATO's leaders wrung their hands and procrastinated, close to 8,000 men and boys were rounded up and executed.

Now, genocide is being committed in Darfur. Over 50,000 have been slaughtered by Sudanese government-backed militias, and a million displaced. As they are slaughtered and starved to death, the UN Security Council threatens sanctions against the country if it doesn't put a stop to it - sometime. Several hundred thousand children have been murdered during these horrors.

Incidentally, it's curious that the deaths of thousands of African children at the hands of terrorists doesn’t cause the same sort of outrage and condemnation that the deaths of a few hundred, or less, Europeans at the hands of terrorists cause in the West and in Russia. As repulsive as the idea might seem, is it because of skin colour? If not, then why is there not immediate action by the leaders of the powerful Western nations to put a stop to it when African children are slaughtered by the tens of thousands?

The child deaths that resulted from mindless terrorist acts in such places as Oklahoma City, U.S.A., and Beslan, Russia, were not preventable, because the fanatics involved struck without warning. In contrast, the deaths of most of the tens of thousands of African children slaughtered by terrorists were preventable because glaring warnings were there. They occurred because the Western nations, which have the wherewithal to prevent them, didn't; and indefensibly, they aren't stopping the ones occurring today.

There is a need to contain and destroy all terrorists, not just those who commit the most spectacular outrageous acts! If conscience were to prevail, defanging the terrorists in Darfur, Sudan, and ensuring the security of their victims should now be the world's No. 1 priority. The alternative is to add to the legacy of horror by permitting such atrocities to occur endlessly.

Daniel N. Paul


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