This isn’t going to be a long post – it’s a long day, and much to do in it. But I was musing on something and wanted your input on it as well.
I’ve been reading (almost finished) a book called The Bone Woman by Clea Koff, which is the memoir of a young woman who wound up excavating mass graves in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia, and other locales of genocidal mania. It’s an interesting read – more about her thoughts and feelings as she struggles to integrate into the team of scientists and cope with what she’s seeing than it is about the science of forensic anthropology, but that I knew a good bit about already. And not from the TV shows, which are, pardon my righteous indignation, bullsh*t. They do get one thing right, however. Bones do tell a story.
Hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered in Rwanda, and she dug up hundreds of them. She describes their injuries, from the marks left on the bones, and the vast majority of them were killed with machetes. Her team learned as they looked at body after body – some merely bones, others nearly intact if decomposed – that the standard procedure was for the adults to be incapacitated with a cut to the Achilles heel, then blows to the skull (it sounds like two, most often) to finish the victim off. Koff writes that there were nearly no defensive wounds found, and she wonders why. I have to wonder the same thing. I cannot imagine being herded into a church and then watching killers work through the crown, with machetes, and not fighting back. Even if I knew it would mean death – so did merely waiting for them to reach me. Even playing dead was no recourse – they would use tear gas to see who coughed or moved once everyone was dead or dying and lying down, then finish off any survivors.
I cannot imagine it. Not to fight back – especially for the children. There were a lot of children in those churches and stadiums. Sure, dying is nigh with no escape. But hurt them, even a little. There are more of you than of them. Even if it takes ten, or a hundred, to take down one of them… but no. And now there are mass graves full of pathetic little details, and the bones tell the stark tale of defenselessness.
Perhaps it is because I am an American, and we do cling to our guns and our Bibles. Suffer the little children, and throw off the tyrants. Every individual life is worthy of living, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Want to know why I will always oppose lists of people divided by any criteria? Read the book, and come back and tell me how they identified the people who would be killed. Segregation leads to dehumanization. There’s no other way to understand why the killers could do what they did, other than to know they did not consider those they were killing humans. And there is no way for me to understand why no one raised their arms in self-defense, or fought back at all. They just let the killing go on.