MT VOID 07/02/99 (Vol. 18, Number 1)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 07/02/99 -- Vol. 18, No. 1

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 for details.

Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619,
Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218,
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell,
HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt,
HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer,
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

Kitty Genovese

This letter of comment came after last week's editorial.

Although your point is well taken about the moral motives to our campaign in Yugoslavia, the comparison to the Genovese incident could have been fleshed out to argue the other side. Nations and individuals of some experience know that there are often two sides to a story. While an innocent person being knifed is clearly worth taking the moral stand to help, the same is thing is not 100% clear in tribal conflicts. Much like the situation in Rwanda, the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs have a history of grievances inflicted by both sides. In fact, before the larger Serb campaign of atrocities, the KLA were committing similar attacks and atrocities, though on a smaller scale simply for being fewer in numbers. Similarly, you could chance upon a pair of individuals, lets say two men, struggling in an alley. The one being attacked might be a local crime boss (to make an extreme example) who previously murdered the attacker's family, and may have initiated the conflict, and just happened to have lost his weapon at that moment. People who live in rough neghborhoods understand this kind of situation exists, that there can be lots of history to an incident, and that it's not clear how best to intercede.

I'm not arguing that it wasn't good of us to get involved in Kosovo, but rather that it is not as simple as the Genovese incident, and even other incidents like it are not as simple as they appear. We could certainly have intervened much sooner, well before the KLA were as armed as they became, and before the Serbs entered Kosovo in force. Just as we could maintain more credible moral authority if we were not the sponsors or incredibly bloody campaigns against hundreds of thousands of "Genoveses" on our own doorstep in Central and South America, Indonesia, and other client areas...

Andre K

All right let us look at the issue of past atrocities. It is one in which I have a particular interest since a chunk of my family was murdered in an ethnic cleansing led by Germans. Personally I do feel enmity toward the people who perpetrated these crimes. The question is do I feel enough anger that I would want to see a Kosovo style action in Germany. How does one treat the issue of a history of hatreds.

The answer is that I think it would serve very little purpose. I have no particular hatred for the average German.

I guess the issue is one of individual rather than group guilt. We probably agree on the issue of individual guilt. The case of the local crime lord deals with a single person who has done harm and I will take your word that there is little doubt of his guilt. That makes it a very different case from the one in Kosovo. In fact it is an analogy further from Kosovo than mine was.

But is there such a thing as group guilt? Was the German people as a whole responsible for the Holocaust? Absolutely. They voted in Hitler and supported him. In many cases they were his muscle. But some were more willing than others were. And just as some individuals were very guilty for what happened, some were totally innocent. Some went beyond innocent to being heroes. But there is a guilt that the German people of the 30s share as a whole. Most of those people are gone and by now there is mostly a whole new set of people in charge who must be judged on their own actions.

In an ethnic cleansing such as what happened in Kosovo, even assuming you are right about the history, there may have been individuals who were guilty and many who were innocent. The fact that there were the guilty does not justify an attack on the general population. I think we agree NATO did the right thing to stop the carnage. If the Serbs really had righteous grievances against Kosavars, it was against individuals and it did not justify the cleansing. Anything else is guilt by association. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   HO 1K-644 732-817-5619