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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

7/08/2008

Beyond the Gates

Beyond the gates.jpg


This past weekend, Rick and I watched what was perhaps the most moving, fact-based movie we have ever seen. The honesty and emotional depth contained in this riveting film should rank it among the classics in film making.

Recommended to us by fellow blogger, Luis, Beyond the Gates is a must see for anyone who truly comprehends the value of human life and liberty, and who genuinely wants to contain, if not eradicate, the kind of evil that is represented by those in this world who gain pleasure by causing indescribable torment for their fellow man.

Released in Europe in 2005 under the title Shooting Dogs (reflecting the fact that UN peacekeepers used to shoot local dogs that fed on the decomposing bodies of genocide victims), Beyond the Gates is the story, told in microcosm, of one of the most despicable human-on-human atrocities of our lifetime: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Referring to the power of man's free will, the film opens in silence with the following script:

Every man is given the key to the gates of heaven.
The same key opens the gates of hell.

.....Buddhist proverb

One of the two main characters, Joe Connor, is a young, idealistic Englishman, bent on ‘making a difference’, who has accepted a year-long post as a teacher at Ecole Technique Officielle, a high school in Kigali, Rwanda.

The other main character is Father Christopher, a Catholic priest who has lived in Africa for three decades – a caring, compassionate man who provides affirmation, love and spiritual guidance for the students at the school, and their families.

Father Christopher insists on maintaining the spiritual essence at the school, even as the situation outside its walls turns increasingly brutal. As persecuted refugees enter the school compound, seeking the protection offered by the United Nations peacekeepers stationed there, Father Christopher remains calm and affirming, and insists on serving mass at the usual times, as though nothing outside of the school or church walls has changed. The Father has lived through coups before, but he soon realizes that the brutality occurring outside his walls goes far beyond anything he has ever witnessed.

John Hurt’s performance as Father Christopher is every bit as commanding as that of any ‘best actor’ academy award winner in history.

Nearly 2,500 persecuted refugees eventually take up residence within the school compound walls. All the while, bloodthirsty, machete- and medieval-skull-mace-wielding killers are congregating, in ever larger numbers, beyond the gates, taunting those inside, and brutally massacring others who are unfortunate enough to pass by.

Upon witnessing a new mother, and her newborn child, falling victim to a horde of machete-wielding murderers outside the gate, Connor, trembling, looks to Father Christopher for some kind of spiritual comfort or reassurance:

    How much pain can a human being take, do you think? I mean, if you feel enough pain does everything just shut down before you die? ‘Cause you’d think that, wouldn’t you? You’d think there’d be some … um … something in the design, you know … some shut-off valve, if you feel enough pain?
Connor and Father Christopher can do little more than watch, and pray. And, in that sense, one of the most remarkable things about Beyond the Gates is its beautifully positive view of the role that faith can play, even in the most desperate of times.

Also within the school compound is the small contingent of Belgian U.N. peacekeepers, who encircle the compound with sandbags, and station themselves as sentries – weapons pointed at the growing crowd of armed, bloodthirsty lunatics surrounding them.

As the brutality outside the gates and across the entire nation escalates, the U.N. forces throughout the country, rather than coming to the aid of the brutalized, simply sit back and obey their mandate not to ‘interfere’, but simply to ‘monitor’ the fragile ‘peace’.

Finally, massive U.N. trucks enter the compound with orders to evacuate … only those blessed to have white skin.

The refugees find themselves abandoned by the world … surrounded by madness.

As the U.N. forces, and the school’s staff, prepare to board the trucks for evacuation, one of the refugee Tutsi fathers approaches the U.N.’s Belgian Captain:

    Captain, I have a polite request. It is from all of us. The people of Kicukiro and the refugees of the school.

    [Reading from a paper]: We are all fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. We are all one family now. And it is as one family that we wish to die.

    Therefore, we politely request that, before you leave us, your soldiers use their guns to kill us. We do not wish to be killed by machete. The bullets will kill us all quickly and there will be much less pain.

    Captain: I’m sorry. I cannot agree to your request.

    Tutsi Father: Please. If not for us, then please spare the children the pain.

    Captain: I am sorry.

    Tutsi Father: Please, just the children!

    Captain: I cannot help you.
I was brought to tears (actually sobs) on several occasions, and was left with an indescribable feeling of loss and anger that the world, in effect, turned a blind eye to this gruesome human-on-human atrocity.

Father Christopher did not evacuate with the other whites, but stayed behind with the refugees. When asked why, he replied:

    You asked me, Joe, ‘Where is God in everything that is happening here … in all this suffering?’

    I know exactly where He is. He’s right here … with these people … suffering.

    His love is here, more intense and profound than I have ever felt. And my heart is here, Joe … my soul. If I leave, I think I may not find it again.
One of the glaring depictions that came through so strongly for me was the impotence of the United Nations to deal with anything truly meaningful for humanity. They are forever handing down elitist tyrannical edicts, and yet, when it comes to taking a stand by stepping in and preventing an historically monumental human tragedy –- an action that should be considered the over-riding purpose of the organization -- they are nowhere to be found. Or, as in the case of the events depicted in this movie, they provide easy lip service, and then withdraw when the going gets tough, allowing the slaughter of thousands of innocents they should have considered their calling to protect at all costs.

On April 11, 1994 more than 2,500 Rwandans, abandoned by the U.N. at Ecole Technique Officielle, were murdered by extremist militias.

Between April and July of that year, more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the nationwide genocide.

Fade to a Clinton staff member responding to reporters’ questions:

    Reporter: Is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word ‘genocide’ in isolation, but always to preface it with the words ‘acts of’?

    Staff Member: Um … I have guidance which … uh, which … which I try to use as best as I can. I’m not … I have, uh … there are formulations that we are using that we are trying to be consistent in our use of. Um, I don’t have a … an absolute, categorical prescription against something. But I have the … the definitions. I have phraseology which has been carefully examined and arrived at … as best to … as best as we can apply to exactly the situation.

    Reporter: How many ‘acts of genocide’ does it take to make a genocide?

    Staff Member: Uh, Adam, that’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer. Clearly, not all of the killings that have taken place in … uh … Rwanda … uh … are killings to which you might apply that label.
It is up to the rest of us to see to it that such politicians, and their staffs, never again hold our foreign policy decisions in their hands.

It is up to the rest of us to see to it that the black evil that has occurred in places such as 1994 Rwanda is confined, if not eradicated. Refusing to do so, or turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, renders us every bit as guilty as those who wield the machetes.

I urge every reader here ... every American … to see this movie.

Don’t argue that you cannot abide witnessing the violence. Such shallow arguments mirror the media who refuse to show us that of which the terrorists are capable. They want us to sit in our easy chairs, lulled into complacency, considering ourselves somehow walled-off from those who see it as their destiny to torment and enslave.

And, when you see this movie, think long and hard about the gruesome fate that befell those 2,500 refugees inside those compound walls after the United Nations abandoned them. Then reflect on Iraq, where coalition forces are accomplishing minor miracles every day, and yet the United States congress, and the front-runner for the United States presidency, intend to withdraw American troops and prevent complete victory. Sadly, the prevention of a hard-won victory, and the declaration that those who sacrificed to obtain it will have died in vain, may well prove to be the second most powerful tragedy occurring after withdrawal. The bloodbath that will follow will have the potential to make the killing fields of Cambodia pale in comparison.

Beyond the Gates

(Do not click on 'enter site'. Simply wait for trailer on the right of the screen to play.)

~ joanie

30 comments:

kathymlynczak said...

I will see if our local Blockbuster has it. Thank you, Joanie. Thank you.

calbrindisi said...

Reading what the father said to the captain got me choked up, and I don't choke easily. We'll do Netflix and get back to you.

lori_gmeiner said...

Wow! I'll be looking for it, Joanie. Thanks for pointing it out.

Kofi said...

ONE QUESTION:

WHO was the Secretary General of the UN at that time?

john galt said...

WHO was the Secretary General of the UN at that time?


Annan could have prevented the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

The head of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Rwanda pleaded with him to intervene before the killings began, because he knew about the preparations leading up to the genocide. Annan refused to act, or to even speak about it publicly.

The book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda (1998), by Philip Gourevitch, recounts the gruesome facts about the genocide and Annan's unwillingness to act. There was little more than silence from both Annan and Clinton.

Sickening.

john galt said...

Thanks, Joanie. I will see it.

trustbutverify said...

Joanie, I haven't seen or even heard of the movie but I will be seeing it now. You are as good a movie reviewer as you are a political commentator. ;)

Anonymous said...

I have seen this movie and I recommend it as highly as the author does. What makes it even more real is that it was filmed on location in Kigali, and many of the actors are actual survivors of the genocide—although not the part of it that took place at the school in question; all of those people were slaughtered.

no_way_a_liberal said...

Father Christopher did not evacuate with the other whites, but stayed behind with the refugees.

A real man of God. Can you see Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton staying behind?

cw-patriot said...

What makes it even more real is that it was filmed on location in Kigali, and many of the actors are actual survivors of the genocide—although not the part of it that took place at the school in question; all of those people were slaughtered.

You are correct, anonymous. Thank you for pointing that out.

At the end of the film, several photos of a few of the 'extras' are scrolled across the screen, with descriptions of what they endured and how they survived.

The movie itself was filmed inside the actual school, and around Kigali and environs. It would be difficult to obtain a more true-to-life setting for the tragedy.

Thank you for reminding me of what I neglected to mention.

~ joanie

cw-patriot said...

A real man of God. Can you see Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton staying behind?

Point well taken. I don't know how many people -- men of the cloth or not -- would have made the decision that Father Christopher did.

And, although no one can presume to know another's mind, I strongly suspect that the three you mentioned would have been vying to be among the first onto the U.N. evacuee trucks.

cw-patriot said...

Cal Brindisi,

Dan was over for dinner tonight, and, after I finished teaching, we all sat down to watch the movie again (he had never seen it).

Amazingly, its effect was just as powerful as the first time -- although I don't know that I could watch it again anytime soon. One needs some time to 'recover'.

~ joanie

Martin Raskin said...

John Galt,

I looked up "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda" that you mentioned, on Amazon.com. This is one of the reader reviews:

In early May 1994 I stood on a bridge over the river that forms the border between Rwanda and Tanzania and observed corpses floating down towards Lake Victoria in an unbroken stream. As I write this, two Rwandan women are taking the unprecedented action of suing the United Nations for its failure to intervene in the worst act of genocide since WW2. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who played a kay role in UN decision-making in 1994, has confessed the UN's "failure" and expressed his own "deep remorse." 800,000 people died, most of them hacked to death with machetes by their neighbours. How this happened, and how the world utterly failed in its self-appointed role to prevent exactly such a holocaust, is the subject of this beautifully written, accessible and compelling book. Gourevitch wants to know WHAT happened, and through interviews with survivors, gives us the clearest and most comprehensive understanding I have yet seen. It is not pretty reading, although Gourevitch's dispassionate and sensitive writing makes it possible to get through material that in coarser hands would be impossible to stomach. He also describes the HOW. For years it was evident to the West - and most particularly to France and Belgium - that Hutu factions were gathering their strength to strike at the Tutsi minority. Every day Hutu radio stations ran violent anti-Tutsi propaganda, in which Tutsis and any moderate Hutus who were not interested in killing them were warned to prepare to die. When the killing began, it was simply the next logical step in a process that had long been underway. The case seems impossible to refute - indeed, the UN's internal investigation which published its report in December 1999 does NOT refute - that the genocide was both broadly predictable, and could have been ameliorated, if not altogether stopped, by effective international intervention. The legal knots the UN allowed to create for itself, so that "blue-helmets" felt they could not act to save a woman being raped and hacked to pieces, because their mandate allowed for only their own self-defence, are just one example of how international law can - sometimes - ENCOURAGE crimes against humanity. The lessons of Rwanda, painfully learnt, will influence the way the so-called "world community" responds to massive ethnic eruptions for a generation to come. To begin to understand this most painful event in recent human history, this book cannot be too highly recommended. If there is one small niggle, it is the lack of an index, something that I hope will be addressed in future editions.

I ordered the book, and the DVD of "Beyond the Gates."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

John Cooper said...

About six months ago, I wrote my Senators Dole and Burr urging them to get the U.S. out of the United Nations.

All I got back was the obligatory non-responsive form-letters telling me what a glorious organization it was...

It's enough to make you quit your job, head for the mountains, build a cabin, plant an orchard, and just tune them all out. (wink)

ronitafromdallas said...

Very well done, Joanie. I too feel it is important for us Americans to see these things. If we don't, we take them too lightly. I will try to rent the DVD this weekend.

cw-patriot said...

It's enough to make you quit your job, head for the mountains, build a cabin, plant an orchard, and just tune them all out.

In such an environment, it seems to me you'd need a bunch of dogs. And lots of beer and jerky.

:)

Anonymous said...

It is insanity to be the major supporter of an organization whose main objective is to destroy everything we stand for. Talk about suicidal.

LouBarakos said...

I'm going to see if our local public library has either the book John Galt mentioned or the DVD of the movie. This is a subject that every major library in America should have major information on, but I'm betting they don't have the book or the video. It's a sign of the times.

smithy said...

Referring to the power of man's free will, the film opens in silence with the following script:


Every man is given the key to the gates of heaven.

The same key opens the gates of hell.


.....Buddhist proverb


That is so appropriate for the world situation. The terrorists are bent on creating hell on earth and we are bent on allowing them to.

Luis said...

Joanie,

Your writing on this subject truly does this film justice and I can only congratulate you on a wonderful review of this moving film.

Apart from seconding everything you have written, I would say this film has a special ability to remind us of our humanity. In an age where it is all to easy to become hardened to daily media coverage of carnage and suffering this film really reminds us that there are always real people suffering behind the headlines. It does, as you write, have the power to move people to tears.

Father Christopher, as portrayed, is an inspiration and a rare example of someone living their faith by deed as well as word. Yes, he seems a world a way from the Jeremiah Wright kind.

I find it shocking to be reminded that all this happened on such a scale as recently as 1994 and I struggle to understand why this got so little meaningful international interest when it happened.

I would like to think it could not happen again but I guess that would be naive.

It is a sobering reminder that inaction can truly allow evil to triumph.

I would also recommend this film to all. It does not seem to have been seen by many to date. I found it languishing on a forgetten shelf in my local Blockbuster, so if a few more see this powerful film Blockbuster and the internet will be shown to have their uses...

Thank you for describing this film so eloquently.

danthemangottschall said...

Bravo, Joanie!

Thank you for bringing this movie to our attention. I had never heard of it and I suppose most people haven't.

I'll be renting it soon.

cw-patriot said...

Thank you, Luis. I also affirm everything that you have written.

Although I am sad to hear that you had to 'stumble upon' this film on a forgotten shelf at Blockbuster, I hope that we can, in a small way, make others aware of it.

Again, many thanks for doing that for me, and for your valuable comments here, as always.

~ joanie

Anonymous said...

Rick's a lucky man.

siliconvalleyguy said...

The Clinton presidency had many low points, but this may have been the lowest.

LouBarakos said...

We rented the DVD last night Joanie. You are right about it being a powerful movie, and one that every American should see!

The U.N.'s and America's reaction to the tragedy in Sudan is the same. All talk, little help.

Barberi said...

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda resulted in the systematic massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in less than 100 days. The events occurred while the international community closed its eyes.


"Perhaps there is no better case than Rwanda of state killing in which colonial history and global economic integration combined to produce genocide. It is also a case where the causes of the killing were carefully obscured by Western governmental and journalistic sources, blamed instead on the victims and ancient tribal hatreds."


Here are more sources to learn about the truth:

http://www.rwanda-genocide.org/multimedia.html

Walter Goller said...

I came here for the first time today. You do nice work. I'll be reading all of the past columns as time permits. We conservatives are fighting a losing battle but it's nice to come to a place where rational thought is expressed and reasonable arguments are welcome.

Anonymous said...

The more we elect liberal politicians to sit in Washington, the more we are sanctioning this kind of tragedy. Obama and his kind want to hand over more and more of our decision making powers to organizations like the UN. So our sovereignty will suffer, and so will the freedom and safety of the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, the Hutu government went around taking a "census" for almost a year before the genocides began, so that they could know exactly where all the Tutsi and Tutsi sympathizers lived. It sounds alot like pre-war Germany. And no one lifted a finger, in spite of all the warning signs that this was in the offing. This kind of history tends to repeats itself if good men sit back and do nothing.