The image that has stuck with me the most vividly from the
Holocaust Museum on Sunday is the photo of Kaufbeuren, where Hitler’s movement
first used the T-4 gas on children. It was part of his move to eliminate
physical and mental retardations from the population; (in)effectively leaving a
blank slate build his new race on.
This disrupted me for two reasons: it brought out a certain
personal disdain I have for those who disrespect the disabled, and secondly
-perhaps more so, that the incinerator used to carry out the mass murder was
situated among houses and shops in the village of Kaufbeuren.
In mid summer, when furnaces weren’t used, the hospital
produced the unmistakable stench of burning corpses and no public protest or
revolt was made.
Do I think this still happens? Sure; except if referring to
the example of the DR Congo, I think that the metaphorical houses next to the
hospital smoke stack are the US, Canadian, British, French, and Russian
governments. We (individuals, not governments) certainly know the war is
happening, but we tend to ignore the news reports (when they occasionally air)
and the articles because we don’t want to have another cause to care for at the
end of the day. The humanitarian responsibility lies in the government to
recognize our neglect as inhumane and to promote public awareness (real
awareness) of it as a first step before pursuing UN intervention.
But not to half-ass it like the UN did in Rwanda. Governments
worldwide each need to loan a significant number of troops to the UN corps. In
Rwanda that number was 5000, but they only ever deployed a fifth of that. And
much later than needed.
If the residents of that town could ignore the murder that
filled their sky with smoke and stench, it’s safe to say that the problems we
deal with (rather don’t deal with) today -genocide, civil wars, slavery -are
only easier to ignore.