Magazine article The Christian Century

Never Again?

Magazine article The Christian Century

Never Again?

Article excerpt

NEVER AGAIN. That is the plea behind every exhibit on the Holocaust, every teacher's assignment of Eli Wiesel's Night, every classroom showing of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. The hope, sometimes even the claim, is that once we know and see how one group of people has consciously and purposely destroyed another group of people, then we will be respired to resist the temptation to stand by if it happens again.

And then it happens again. It has happened in Cambodia, in Bosnia, in Rwanda, in Kosovo. What has become of that "Never again"? Is it merely a phrase we utter to console ourselves, a wan hope (at odds with the Christian understanding of human sin) that the race must after all learn something from its horrific past?

The genocide against the Albanians in Kosovo has at least forced us to ask what we mean by "Never again." More precisely, we are forced to ask what price we are willing to pay, if any, to back up that "Never again." Perhaps what we really mean is "Never again--unless we're asked to take some risk." Or: "Never again--unless the outcome of our efforts is in some way in doubt." Or: "Never again--unless it means sending ground troops."

The U.S. and NATO cannot avert every massacre. …

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