There are those who are old enough to remember World War II and the Nazi attempt to liquidate the Jews of Europe. There are even those whose memories are shaped by the Holocaust and selectively remember the human preoccupation with some group somewhere murdering others who are deemed different enough to be exterminated. Our histories give short shrift to blood soaked soil of our planet because they are too much involved with the strategies of warriors and the ambitions of Kings, Dictators and madmen.
Time erases reality and horror for our minds reject the stories of man’s inhumanity to man. I am not sure if he meant it in quite the same way I do in this essay, but Claude Levi-Strauss said that the world is divided up between the eaters and the eaten or as his thesis statement put it, the Raw and the Cooked. There are all manners of etiquette and rituals associated with humans feeding in some way or another on other humans.
There is a need for the blood of other humans and this need IS human history. It is curious that the search for chalices and bits of bone and cloth by Knights Templar and other Crusaders led to the conflict between two religions over many centuries and seems to have been revived in our time. Nobody wants to remember infamous massacres of the past with different players in opposing rolls at different times. We can understand the taking of life by nature by storms or volcanoes. But the planned murder of scores, thousands and millions of humans by their neighbors is something we automatically deny but never forget.
Time erases reality and horror for who remember the slaughter of conquered peoples by strutting victors in bloody battles such as the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks and Romans, Mongols and the individual nation builders after the demise of the Roman Empire. There is a straight line up to the empire building of the English Kings, the Spanish despoliation of the new world (America and the empires of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas) up through the Colonial Wars where Europeans invaded and ruled Africa and Asia without any thought of preserving life and cultures. “Nobody remembers the Turks massacring a million Armenians.”
We do not teach history so much as to ignore it while new horrors emerge daily. To bring Freedom to Afghanistan and Iraq we first had to destroy them. I anticipate the coming conflict between followers of Islam and the rest of us. Signals have been sent that the American juggernaut (mostly the ambition of the War President, G.W. Bush) will head for Iran and or Syria. It is not unlikely that another Korean war is in the offing despite the denial of our leaders and opinion makers. And this is on the anniversary of the undeniable horror of Auschwitz.