Those Enemies of the People

August 26, 2012

While in Iceland, I read Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People.  I doubt he could have imagined what could come of that phrase.

I waited a long time to see Enemies of the People, and it just became available on Netflix. One man sets out to document the mass-killing that took place during his childhood.  He is very patient, meeting with people whom he knows were killers for days, weeks, months,  even years, before asking them to tell the truth.  In the case of Brother No. 2, shown above (Pol Pot was Brother No. 1), it did take years until he would admit anything, but the reason for the mass-murder remains elusive.  Was it all the fruit of a deluded paranoia about Vietnamese spies?  In Sideshow, William Shawcross takes the view that the Khmer Rouge, fanatics to begin with, were practically insane after years of enduring B-52 bombings in the jungle, so when they took over, all hell broke loose.

The image below is from a particularly shocking part in which a man demonstrates how he killed hundreds of peasants. (He was one himself.)  Their hands were tied behind their backs, and he put his foot on their back as they lay on the ground, pulling back their heads in a way that made if difficult for them to scream.

Before the reenactment, the ‘victim’ checks the knife and says, “Ah, good!  It’s plastic.”

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