1. soo-a s'day (hello) from The Killing Fields

As a tour guide for extra terrestrials, I'd first recommend them - and you too - to visit a place that reinforces my shame of being a member of our species. It's a piece of earth, smaller than a sports stadium, that would show aliens exactly what humans are capable of. A half dozen car-sized indents are sunken into the ground. Without water - it is the dry season now in Cambodia - they look like dried up and cleaned out cesspools. A generation ago they contained the remains of over 8,000 people; this is but one of the many execution sites around the country that were active during the Khumer Rouge reign of terror. Now, the site I visited, a popular stop on the tourist trail, is tranquil and quite pleasant in fact; you can relax right at the very tree against which soldiers would hold infants by their ankles and slam them against. What happened here didn't have an ethnic argument to serve as rationale. It was a political exercise with little window dressing. I guess, as genocides go, it would make the top hundred. All sorts of criteria were used for selecting who were to die - wearing eyeglasses included. The surviving skulls are how shelved in a glass and concrete memorial tower. I came away from this killing field with the profound sense that no inhuman being of even limited intelligence should want to have much of anything to do with our species, unless it is to exterminate us in order to stop us from spreading ourselves elsewhere.

17 January 2002

Phnom Penh, Cambodia