With President Obama reluctantly acting on behalf of Christians in Iraq, in order to avert what he calls a potential “genocide,” the United Nations is going through the motions of coming to grips with the nearly 40-year-old communist genocide in Cambodia. A U.N.-sponsored court has convicted two Cambodian communist leaders of crimes against humanity.
But The New York Times ran a story blaming America, not communism, for the mass murder.
The Khmer Rouge was the communist version of ISIS in Iraq.
In the original story on the Times website, the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge and its brutality was framed in terms of being provoked by the United States. The Times story said, “The covert carpet-bombing of eastern Cambodia from 1965 to 1973 is seen by historians as a major factor in the destabilization of Cambodia in the years before the Khmer Rouge came to power.”
I had noticed this phrase in the original story, dated August 6, only to go back on Friday and find it wasn’t there in the new version. It had been taken out.
I finally found the original at a very interesting website called www.newsdiffs.org that “watches different versions of highly-placed articles on online news sites,” starting with The New York Times.
It appears, in this case, that somebody at the Times realized that blaming the U.S. for the crimes of communism didn’t make a lot of sense, and that it was downright offensive. After all, 58,000 Americans died to prevent communist takeovers of Vietnam and Cambodia.
The original story can also be found on other websites, such as that of the International Scholars Center.
For the record, the U.S. supported Lon Nol, who was defeated by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. The New York Times ran a story headlined, “Indochina without Americans: for most a better life.” Out of a total population of seven million, some two to three million Cambodians were killed.
Rather than facilitate the genocide, the U.S. tried to prevent it.
There was only one reference in the story by Thomas Fuller and Julia Wallace to the fact that the Khmer Rouge was a communist organization. The story noted that “Mr. Nuon Chea, who was the deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea under Pol Pot, defended Khmer Rouge policies as necessary to the development of a ‘people’s democratic revolution.’”
Nuon Chea is known as the chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge. He was unrepentant.
Although the U.N. prohibits the use of the death penalty as a punishment for crimes against humanity or genocide, at least some of the Khmer Rouge leaders are going on trial.
By contrast, the Cuban-backed Weather Underground in the U.S. had plans to eliminate 25 million Americans, according to the late Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant in the group. Yet, Weather Underground leaders were rehabilitated and became college professors and even helped President Obama launch his political career. Many never went on trial and are unrepentant.
The absurd idea in the original Times story—that U.S. bombing somehow brought the Khmer Rouge to power and made them go crazy and murder millions—is something we have heard before.
As AIM founder Reed Irvine noted in a 1985 AIM Report, “This was the theory propounded by William Shawcross in his book Sideshow. The idea was that our bombing so maddened the Khmer Rouge that they behaved like barbarians. This never made any sense, and it was a theory that ignored the ample evidence that the Khmer Rouge were from the beginning, intent upon building a pure communist system by creating the perfect communist man.”
In other words, the genocide was communism in action. Killing people on a mass scale is what Marxists do.
By the way, the U.S. bombed Cambodia because the Soviet-backed communist North Vietnamese were funneling weapons to the Viet Cong in South Vietnam through the Ho Chi Minh trail, which partly ran through Cambodia.
The Times quoted David Chandler, described as a former American diplomat who served in Cambodia and a leading historian on the Khmer Rouge atrocities, as saying, “The heart of the Khmer Rouge crimes was the complete disregard of human costs of their revolution. Their vision was completely flawed and unhitched to reality.”
This is true, but Chandler at least understands that the Khmer Rouge were communists. The phrase actually means “Red Cambodians.”
Reed Irvine wrote extensively about the major media’s cover-up of the genocide at the time it was occurring. He went after the Times and The Washington Post.
He singled out Laurence Stern, who was then the national news editor of The Washington Post, “for having made the decision not to run an important eyewitness account of the Cambodian genocide and then having given a justification for this action that was false.”
When Laurence Stern died in 1979, I covered his memorial service, noting that among those who eulogized him at the memorial service presided over by Post executive editor Ben Bradlee was the Washington station chief of the Cuban intelligence service, Teofilo Acosta. I reported that he had praised Stern as a “good friend.”
As Irvine noted, “Rather than investigate Stern’s ties to Cuban intelligence, The Washington Post set up a memorial fund to honor him.” The paper also set up a “Laurence Stern fellowship” for British journalists at the paper.
A 1984 film, “The Killing Fields,” was supposed to be the story about the genocide. But as Irvine noted, “it would have been truer to reality if it had dared to use the word ‘communist’ in describing those who were doing the killing.”
In the current case of ISIS, we are seeing journalists actually using the word “terrorists” to describe them. Less attention is devoted to the fact that the words “Islamic State” are included in that acronym, and that the terrorists are following the tenets of Islam.
In his statement on Thursday, Obama called them “terrorists” or “militants” but did not use the words “Islamic” or “Islamists.”