May 21, 2010
Davids Only Topple Goliaths in the Bible

I belong to a newsgroup called the Vietnam Old Hacks, composed of doddering old farts who used to cover the Southeast Asian wars. A fair number of us found ways to stay on after Nixon no longer needed the war, having been reelected. Somehow I doubt that many American journalists will hang around Iraq and Afganistan after Obama wins a second term and calls off the killing.

But I digress, as old farts do. Back to the point, Iíll be posting some of these ex-patsí reports from Bangkok next week, but meanwhile look at these searing photos from the Boston Globeís site. Asymmetrical warfare has never been made more visible.

Most of the Red Shirts are poor folks from northern Thailand, who speak Lao rather than Thai. They are driven by poverty to Bangkok where they work at menial jobs to support their families back home. Sort of like Mexicans in Phoenix, actually.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 21, 2010 08:42 PM
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I've looked at those pictures for a day now and quite frankly, I'm speechless. I know nothing of the controversy in Thailand - in that sense I am ignorant -, but I imagine it's all about those folks in red being treated as third class citizens, people without a home who must be in dire desperate straits and probably living in ghettos or perhaps on the streets.

And that sign in one of the the pictures "we're all Thai" reminds me of how we Americans tend to divide ourselves into competing groups, factions, parties and the results are always the same. It's a certain kind of temperament that causes many, maybe most to separate themselves from "the other", set themselves up mentally as being "superior" somehow. And the inevitable result is always the same, conflict becomes the norm. But I've seen many of the worst parts of racism rear its head in the South where I grew up (that is an exaggeration because I never saw a lynching - although I did see a burnign cross when I was a child riding in the car with my mother - and she told us to turn our heads - she knew that scene was an ugly scene) and I know it lives here. Not only can it happen here, it does happen here, daily. Perhaps not to the extreme as what these pictures reveal about Thailand, but racism has been a part of the South where I grew up and although many strides have been made, it is still there in abundance. But the same goes for where I live in Pennsylvania. And as you say, in Phoenix, where my cousin just moved from.

We're all part of humanity really. But how can we force our minds to never engage in these kinds of thoughts, the human desire to think of one group as separate and "superior" to another group? I don't have an answer to that question. All I can do is try to understand. And remind myself that Sinclair Louis's book "It can't happen here" has many important points to make. Because it can happen here. We see it in Arizona but I've seen it for my whole lifetime, just in a lesser form.

And always there will be some politicians are in on the act. Not all, but there will always be a Joe McCarthy, an opportunist, ready to pounce upon the weak minded. And many will fall into the trap of factionalism. Eric Blair was right. The boot of fascism will always be around, waiting to rear its ugly head.

And I ask myself the question over and over. What I can I do to help? And I've not found the answer to that other than to act locally in helping those around me. And yet I live with the guilt that I can never do enough. The fascist boot will never be stamped out by me or anyone else unless humans evolve. Only in Darwin I find hope. Mankind may indeed be able to evolve. But that takes tens of generations. And we have a long way to go.

All I can do is to play my part in seeing that the people are treated humanely where I live. And it's never enough.

Thanks for the photos. Many are gruesome but I urge others to look at them and reflect upon them. Because in some ways they seem to tell the whole story of the history of mankind. As unkind and gruesome as that history is.
I've sorry I don't have the vocabulary or the information to make a more positive or knowledgeable statement about the Boston Globe's photos. But it is in those pictures that I see the history of the world. There are ghettos in existence yet today. And not enough good people in this world to make them go away.

It has been said that the only thing for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing. But where are the good men and women when we need them. We can never have enough of them.

Posted by: Buck on May 23, 2010 5:52 AM
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