VOTING ON THE 20TH CENTURY

Will the US Congress vote in favor of gassing infants? (or, as Obama has written in his draft authorization to Congress, “… prevent or deter the use or proliferation, within …Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction…”

The 20th century has been called the cruelest century. Although Old Testament accounts and other sources suggest the record is concealed. The recently demised Nobel poet Seamus Heaney wrote he would visit prehistoric Aarhus in Northern Ireland,

Out there in Jutland,
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

In the French Revolution, one leader asked a distinguished chemist to look into “mines, gassings or other means to destroy, put to sleep or asphyxiate the enemy.” Remember?

The 20th century has been called the cruelest century. My Lai, Nagasaki, Armenia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, who can number the list? Hitler was gassed in the War to End All Wars, WWI. He recounted, “As early as midnight, a number of us passed out, a few of our comrades forever. Towards morning I, too, was seized with pain which grew worse with every quarter hour, and at seven in the morning I stumbled and tottered back with burning eyes…” How powerful is memory!

How many of its citizens did the Soviet regime kill? 61,9111,000? Stalin asked, “Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years’ time? No one. Who remembers now the names of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one?”

Over one thousand have already been gassed in Syria. How many of their names do you know, gassed in Damascus, Auschwitz? In his draft authorization letter, Obama reminds us that in 2003 in the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, Congress found that Syria acquisition “of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security of the United States.” We have skin in the game.

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. How many gassed? Would you vote today to confront the gassing of Syrian infants today? Of Jews, then? Do you remember the 20th century?

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