The article in today’s ‘New York Times’, “Pain of Khmer Rouge Era Lost on Cambodian Youth”based on a report from the Human Rights Center, University of California, maintains that “as much as 70 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, and four out of five members of this young generation know little or nothing about the Khmer Rouge years.”(1) Now, four out of five of this generation of Cambodians live in abject poverty, are for the most part illiterate and are probably more concerned about trying to eek out a living than they are about the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. On the other hand, here in the West, where we all share a certain schemata, a lot of us, I won’t say most, have heard of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge but how many people actually know that it was criminals in Washington who helped facilitate their rise to power and who helped keep them there? As I have said before, ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance and it might be good for the future of Cambodia if its young people were to become more informed of the catastrophe, which wiped out some 40% of the population of that troubled land. Nevertheless, while they continue to live in a world where there is no alternative but to live for the day one can forgive them their ignorance, and our excuse? The daily diet of drivel and bits of the truth have some of us actually convincing ourselves that we are informed when in fact we are only tailoring our convictions to suit our bad tastes and comfortable lifestyles. Our ignorance is much greater because due to its voluntary nature we share in the perpetrators crimes.
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