frontline online: the triumph of evil

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What are your thoughts?  Please note not all letters are published due to volume


Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline, I would like to echo the comments made by Jon Schwarth from Salem (a previous respondent). No where is racial international politics seen so clearly as it is in the cases of Rawanda and Kosovo. Kosovo is a powder keg of southeastern Europe and it demands attention. However, Rawanda was an atomic bomb in central Africa and no one seemed to notice. The question why does not need to be asked here because the answer is quite clear. As the author Fergal Keane points out, the only time Africa becomes newsworthy is when the piles of bodies begin to add up. There has been very little talk about the history of ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis, yet we have been bombarded with information about the importance of Kosovo to the ethnic identity of Serbia. Racial politics is as clear as day and it is time we started taking notice.

Brendan Cullen
boston, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thanks to Frontline and Philip Gourevitch, I've learned much about the Rwandan genocide. But I'd like to tell all the readers here that the struggle in Rwanda continues to this day.

For further information on current events in central Africa, be sure to visit the BBC's online World News area (www.bbc.co.uk), the International Crisis Group's website (www.intl-crisis-group.org), and the Rwanda Information Exchange network (www.rwanda.net).

With the above sources I've learned what has happened after Gourevitch's "Stories from Rwanda." In Gourevitch's book, the overthrow of Zaire's Mobutu is a great victory for Rwanda and much of Africa. But things have changed since Gourevitch was there. Now, the new President, Laurent Kabila, of the new country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, are being seen as enemies of Rwanda and Uganda. The man and country they helped to create in the 1996 war of liberation is now their enemy. The allies they fought alongside with during the first war, countries such as Angola and Zimbabwe, have also turned their guns towards Rwanda.

And to top it all off, the United States, the country I find myself a citizen of, has recently declared its support for the DRC's government. Sympathy for the Rwandans? Glad the Rwandese Patriotic Front smashed the genocidaire government to pieces? If the US begins to aid the DRC government, financially or militarily, the troops that stopped the genocide in 1994 will be fighting against -US-, now!

Jerry Ku
houston, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

We the sixth grade class of Divine Mercy find what happened in Rwanda disgusting and hard to look at. The world should be ashamed for not doing anything. The President should be ashamed. To go after someone because of who they are or what they believe is wrong. Hutu rebels should be sorry for the mass killings. History should teach us something. Why aren't we learning from past mistakes?

sixth grade Divine Mercy
merritt island, fl.


Dear FRONTLINE,

A horrifying documentary on a horrifying episode in human history. No one should escape blame, but, in The Triumph of Evil, it is France that gets off without even a rebuff.How could producers leave out French support of the Hutu in the years prior to the genocide, and the US's tacit unwillingness to question an ally's foreign transgressions? Geopolitical inertia was at the heart of this story, true. But even inertia has a catalyst. In this case, much of the catalyzing influence was France.

Tom Jennings
silver spring, maryland


Dear FRONTLINE,

This is aimed at the other readers of this site, specifically Americans.

Hey - listen up morons! Not every horrible thing that happens in the world is the result of a crappy president. You can't blame the press for failing to "cram this down our throats"; if it needs to be crammed so hard, we're the ones not paying attention, not the press.

So you feel ashamed. You should. It is unconscionable that we should have such power and responsibility and ignore so completely the horrors that take place in the world.

Look at the situation in the Sierre Leone. Look at the Taliban's regime in Afghanistan. Check the web sites of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch to see what's really going on. If you wonder where you were when Rwanda was unfolding, take a look at where you are now. What are you paying attention to?

It's not hard to do; there are multiple online news sources that provide full coverage of all these horrors. Horrors that are unfolding right now, today.

Will you demand accountability from your leaders; write to them, call them on the phone? Now? Today?

If this program affected you, if this web site affected you, take a look at yourself..

Davin Tarr
seattle, wa


Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching "Frontline" last night, I couldn't sleep and I'm glad I couldn't sleep. I can't imagine how any of the people involved at the highest level could ever appear rested to us again. As a young person, I didn't follow what was going on in Rwanda as it was happening a few years ago. My guilt for my youthful indifference is overwhelming. One response posted here places blame on the common man as opposed to the decision makers. However, even if I knew what was going on, what could I, as one lone person do to change their plight? Sadly, I think that young people are wise to the fact that they are indeed globally powerless. All that I can do now, is repeat the facts as I have learned them to as many people as possible and give individual meaning to each senseless death. So that it all might make some sense. So that their story might not be lost in the blanket of bodies they were stitched into.

Victoria Heric
los angeles, california


Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline, After reading many of your readers numerous responses I am amazed....Many felt uninformed, and left out of the Rwandan tragedy. I distinctly remember standing in many grocery lines and seeing displayes of Newsweek, Time, LIFE, and other news magazines (sometimes running two weeks back to back) with cover photography of the Rwanda genocide in progress. I am sorry, but I can not accept people admitting that they were not informed or had no idea of the tragedy when in everyday life they were being submitted to the all to real pictures we've come to associated with Rwanda. The political aspects revealed in your remarkable show leave no reason for the American and World public to hide in. Perhaps we all should look to the reality of the UN. How does one keep the peace peacefully?... As much as the world hates the US to play the role of world police, how can we... in retrospect.. criticise a nation that had just fumbled Somalia. (How many casualties would the Marines have accepted in Rwanda?) ... Rwanda showed the United States is incapable of reacting in less than 100 days to massive crimes of humanity; politically, militarily, morally, or ethically. There was no information gap during this tragedy. Everyone who watched this show saw the reporters in action... all this and more was available to the public during the genocide in Rwanda. It's not Clinton's fault, it's not the Belgian's fault, and it's not the United Nation's fault...it's your fault, and mine too.

Dave Fillippone
burbank, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

It may be that it is difficult to keep people from killing one another when they are determined to do so, but surely it is impossible to accept a picture such as you have shown, where thousands of men women and children were begging for their lives before a television camera with the rifles of the United Nations pointed at THEM, rather than at their muderers.

If any single event captures the hopelessly craven nature of world leadership then this does. After I saw this prgramme I was dumbfounded and I can only say that if it were possible in these last days to buy a ticket to another planet I would do so without the slightest hesitation. Life is all too cheap on this planet, where if you don't have the courage to help your friend to safety you could at least provide him with a machete too, so that she could die like a human being rather than an animal at the slaughter.

will morgan
toronto, canada


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for opening my eyes. The slaughter of 800,000 innocent people, and the indifference shown by the U.S. and the international community will haunt me for days to come. May God have mercy on our souls.

Larry Jennings
tucson, az


Dear FRONTLINE,

I USE TO BECOME MISTY EYED WITH PRIDE WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST AND HOW THE WORLD WOULD NEVER NEVER LET ANYTHING LIKE THAT HAPPEN AGAIN!!!.. NOW I AM MISTY EYED THAT IT HAS HAPPENED THERE WAS INDEED ANOTHER GENOCIDE. I AM A BLACK AMERICAN.NOT AFRICAN AMERICAN BECAUSE I WAS BORN IN AMERICA AS WERE MY PARENTS GRAND PARENTS AND GREAT GRANDPARENTS.

I CAN'T HELP WONDER WHAT THE BLACK CONGRESSMEN AND SENATORS WERE DOING WHEN ALL OF THIS WAS GOING AND FOR THAT MATTER WHERE WAS JESSE JACKSON,KWESI MFUME THE HEAD OF THE NAACPOR EVEN THE 'MINISTER' FARRAKHAN...? WHY WERE THEY ALL SO VERY VERY QUIET ???.NEVER AGAIN WILL I PAY ATTENTION WHEN THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT SUPPOSED INJUSTICES HERE IN THE UNITED STATES..SUCH AS NIKE DOES'NT HAVE ENOUGH BLACK EXECUTIVES OR WE ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE GREEN VALLEY GOLF CLUB OR ANY OF THE OTHER MINOR PROTESTS THEY VOICE REGARDING BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN TREATMENT IN THE UNITED STATES. I CANNOT TAKE THE BLACK LEADRSHIP SERIOUSLY WHEN THEY CAN BE SO SILENT ABOUT WHAT HAS GONE ON AND WHAT IS GOING ON IN AFRICA.

THANK YOU

GEORJE CARTER
clarkston, ga


Dear FRONTLINE,

I wasn't sickened by the actual Rwandan genocide. That occurred several years ago when the facts first came out. Tonight, I was sickened by my country's leadership, and the absolute lack of decency and accountability displayed by President Clinton's administration. From the State Department spokesperson's ramblings about the "definition of genocide", to Al Gore's, hollow promises with regards to "Never Again", I can honestly say that I've never been so embarrassed to be an American. The patterns of double-talk, deceipt, inaction, and altogether indecent behavior within the current Washington administration sickens me. Clinton (and Gore) should be on trial in the Senate not for perjury and obstruction of justice, but instead for crimes against humanity.

John Spielberger
framingham, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

. Rwanda/Burundi had been a conjoint "hot spot" in open defense analysis publications for decades before Bill Clinton and the other supple-spined malfeasants-in-office who governed the Western nations in 1994 fumbled the ball so as to give the Hutu butchers the chance they'd been honing for: to wipe out the Tutsi and slaughter the Hutu dissidents .

Check with James F. Dunnigan (who used to be the head honcho of Simulations Publications, Inc., a commercial manufacturer of recreational wargames which were big in the '70s)... Dunnigan and SPI were studying future wars as possible topics for conflict simulations games, and when I was working with the company as an unpaid volunteer, we were discussing what would probably happen if somebody took their thumb off the deadman switch in Central Africa and let the Hutu tribesmen loose on their traditional prey, the Tutsi.

The people in the Pentagon and in the State Department knew a *great* deal more than we did about the situation in Rwanda/Burundi, and (as you've shown) they certainly appraised Mr. Clinton of what was happening at the outset -- and what was going to happen. Worse yet, Mr. Clinton had the means with which to intervene -- primarily the CentCom rapid response forces -- even if he lacked the will. He waffled so spectacularly that you could smell the scent of maple syrup over the stench of the decaying corpses.

... Clinton, thank the gods, is *not* the U.S.A. He's not even a close approximation of a representative of the decent, honorable people of this land, and in light of your reminder of how he wrung his hands, squeezed his eyes shut, and wobbled in place while hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, it gives me great comfort to know that if this nation means anything at all, it means something precisely the opposite of everything Bill Clinton stands for.

Richard Bartucci
williamstown, new jersey


Dear FRONTLINE,

Dear Frontline:

The horror I felt as I watched this show and the staggering number of people who died, 800,000, is beyond my comprehension. Watching President Clinton, who could only spare 3 1/2 hours out of his life to apologize to the people of Rwanda while his plane stood by and did not even shut down its engines is disgusting. That man is truly evil and deserves everything that happens to him and is happening to him.

Anne New
calistoga, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Three days after watching Frontline's "The Triumph Of Evil" my mind is still reeling from the images I've seen and the stories heard. I am shocked.

The U.S. is considered a "superpower" and a force to be reckoned with throughout the world. My question is, why was Rwanda so blatantly ignored by this "superpower"? Why did the rest of the international community turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. ... How sad it is to realize that history could have been changed and perhaps wasn't because of a reluctance to "dirty" their hands. Or to become involved in something that had the potential for great ugliness.

I have spent some time in Africa and have developed a greater understanding and love for her people than I've ever known. They are no more less deserving of international protection than any other international citizen rescued from that country by their government during those days.

Yes, this massacre was carried out by Hutus, but the international community stood by and let it happen, indirectly assuming responsibility for the carnage.

It will be a long time before a day passes that this "holocaust" will not be foremost on my mind.

Sherry Penney
st. john's, canada


Dear FRONTLINE,

The Triumph of Evil is the most compelling television broadcast we are likely to see in this decade. No one can watch it and remain unaffected and I hope that PBS can inform others and me how we can help in getting this story the broadest possible dissemination it deserves. Perhaps you should allow 60 Minutes to rebroadcast it so that the widest possible audience can become as disgusted and ashamed as I am at our revolting inaction.

Gregory Spanopoulos
jacksonville, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

... I have read the comments of others included in this web site, and echo many of the same concerns.

Since viewing the program, I have felt deep sorrow for the people of Rawanda, incredible disgust at the inaction of the world community... Before watching the program, I considered myself reasonably well informed. I now wonder just how ignorant I really am of world events.

As a military officer, I can empathize with the on site military leaders of the UN peacekeeping forces. I can only try to understand the terrible decision they faced, and hope that I would have the moral courage to follow my conscience if faced with a similarly difficult decision (such as withdrawl from the de facto refuge at the school so prominently discussed in the program)...

As a member of the military, I am sworn to follow the lawful orders of those appointed above me. I am also held (as is proper) to a higher moral and ethical standard than that expected of most citizens, based on the great trust have been given. I am expected to demonstrate strength of character and personal leadership in my private and professional actions. Your program has demonstrated quite profoundly how very important these traits are to us all...

Thank you for a very profound piece of work. While I have always been a vocal proponent of PBS, I wil put my money where my mouth is in the future, if only to support meaningful work as exemplified by this program.

Michael Wessel
honolulu, hi


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