Dear Miss Manners

So here's a poser: You rat out your neighbors to an invading army--in fact you are the one to knock on their door with the soldiers behind you. You are directly responsible for your neighbors losing their home, their possessions, their freedom, their two sons who are still missing. Because you marked them as "enemy" (the wrong religion) the father is taken away, stripped, beaten and left for dead and ten years later is still something of a limping basket case. The rest of the family spends three years in prisons and then another five in refugee camps.

Skip ahead. . . Peace has come to the land. You still live in your house and the now ex-neighbors return to your town. What do you say when you see the father wandering around their old homestead--the house was burned to the ground, and the farm now belongs to one of the invaders?

"Hey, hello! How ya doin?"

Yup. You actually go up to the man and put out your hand to shake. Too bad the father can't really shake hands because his hand was so badly mangled during the beating and in the prison camp. When he turns away without speaking, you say in a hurt voice, "well, no hard feelings on my side, anyway."

Today, over coffee, Fikreta tried to describe that part of her father's visit back to Srebenica. Her English failed but I did get the gist of the story.

I always thought the people who had the guilt on their consciences would ultimately fare worse than the other survivors of war, but now I think they probably manage to transform the guilt into something more palatable so they can sleep better.

It's got to be nice to be able to think that the other guy was just plain rude when you meet up again.

* * * *

Speaking of intolerance on a much smaller scale, looks like we're not gonna be getting one o' they Ford vans** next time we go car shopping.

Ford has been listening to the voice of hatred. Too damn scary when any company is willing to listen to a group that apparently exists to exclude sizeable chunks of the population -- especially when they conduct that exclusionary hatred in the name of religion.


** "one o' they Ford vans" is a literary allusion. A pair o' socks to anyone who ID's it correctly.


  1. Re: Ford. Did you catch this over at Jesus' General this week?

    That first story . . . wow. But I'm not too surprised; evil has a way of excusing itself. Look at Dubya.

    Do you remember in Harpers a while back, in Readings, the interviews with some of the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide? Some had insight, even remorse; many seemed creepily flat.

  2. Fredneckia11:14 PM

    Hey - I know! Check:
    You know where to send the socks, right? Or maybe you'll deliver them in time for Christmas?

  3. that you, Leslie??????

  4. Shame on ford!!!!!!!

    I think you're right about transforming that guilt too. There's a word for it but it escapes me


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