Thursday, July 15, 2004
This is Pol Pot. I'm the handsome dude on the right.
Pol Pot (born Saloth Sar) is the archetypical charming psychopath. The person that killed between a quarter and a third of his nation is usually described as a charismatic and friendly character. Says Prince Norodom Sihanouk: "Pol Pot is very charming. ... His face, his behaviour is very polite, but he is very, very cruel"
Pol Pot was infested with Marxist and Nationalistic ideas while studying in Paris. He pushed the self-suffiency fallacy to the extreme when he seized power in Cambodia in the 1975. An avid racist, he persecutes the Vietnamese as well as Christians, Muslims and Budhists and attemts to create the "new people". The foundation of his nationalistic ideas is the history of Vietnam seizing Cambodian land in the past.
The scene was horrific when the hordes of barbarians rushed into the cities as is described in the classic Modern Times:
On April 17 over three million people were living in Phnom Penh. They were literally pushed into the surrounding countryside. The violence started at 7 am with attacks on Chinese shops; then general looting. The first killings came at 8:45 am. Fifteen minutes later troops began to clear the Military Hospital, driving doctors, nurses, sick and dying into the streets. An hour later they opened fire on anyone seen in the streets, to start a panic out of the city. At noon the Preah Ket Melea hospital was cleared: hundreds of men, women and children, driven at gunpoint, limped out into midday temperatures of over 100 Fahrenheit. Of twenty thousand wounded in the city, all were in the jungle by nightfall. One man carried his son, who had just had both legs amputated; others pushed the beds of the very ill, carrying bottles of plasma and serum. Every hospital in the city was emptied. All papers and records in the city were destroyed. All books were thrown into the Mekong River or burned on the banks. The paper money in the Banque Khmer de Commerce was incinerated. Cars, motorbikes and bicycles were impounded. Rockets and bazookas were fired at homes where any movement was detected. There were many summary executions. The rest were told, "Leave immediately or we will shoot all of you." By evening the water supply was cut off. What gave this episode its peculiar Kafkaesque horror was the absence of any visible authority. The peasant-soldiers simply killed and terrified, obeying orders, invoking the commands of the Angka Loeu. Nothing was explained. The intellectuals who had planned it never appeared. - Modern Times, Paul Johnson
Of course this revoloution gained world attention since it happens to be newsworhty when mad people with mad ideologies start to change their country into one great concentration camp. Despite this, many people were in profound denial and Chomsky and Herman spoke of Distortions at Fourth Hand.
Some quotations of Pol Pot:
These quotations are not easy to come by but here is what I have found so far.
"I’m going to tell you clearly. I would like to tell you that I came to carry out the struggle, not to kill people. Even now, and you can look at me, am I savage person? My conscience is clear… I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country" - Pol Pot in his last interview with Nate Thayer.
"No" - When asked if he wants to apologize for the suffering he caused. "This is Year Zero" - When his guerrillas seized Phnom Penh.