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PostEast Timor (Ronald Hilton, USA, 09/10/99 10:01 am)
Margaret Mackenzie has forwarded to me postings on the East Timor
situation from Miriam Kahn and Martha Macintyre, two anthropologists.
They convey the horror of the situation, but it is unfair for
anthropologists to accuse the U.S. of racism for not rushing in to
help. I watched Senate hearings this morning, and the U.S. is acutely
aware of the situation and is willing to intervene militarily.
Margaret has also forwarded to me e-mail messages from Catholic missionaries in East Timor, where some Catholic aid people, notably six members of Caritas, have been killed. We should render homage to these people who died for humanity, and whose death is a tribute to their faith. These e-mail messages, coming from people whose colleagues have been killed and whose lives are threatened, are poignant.
My obsession is responsible citizenship, which these individuals showed to the highest degree. Faith is undoubtedly a catalyst of good citizenship. The Population Research Center at the University of Texas has released statistics showing that regular church goers live on average more than seven years longer than others. Presumably they lead "a godly and a righteous life." We must also express our respect for physicians of organizations like Médecins du Monde, who have risked their lives in a similarly noble spirit.
While we feel deep sympathy and admiration for such people, we are outraged by their killers. Their behavior is typical of what is called direct action. In many parts of the globe, mobs of young hoodlums with masks over their faces go around acting like thugs. In East Timor they were waving banners with the face of Che Guevara. I find it hard to say "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."