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Why I’m A Bleeding Heart…. Conservative: Part I

with 4 comments

I’m not your average card-carrying Republican. Or so you think. As I was in Toul Sleng torture prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia this past weekend, the idea for this blog series struck me. I am often asked how I can be a conservative and a Republican. How can I be these things, and also be living and working at a school for underprivileged rural students in the middle of the Cambodian countryside? I’m accused of living a paradoxical life quite frequently; by friends, by family, by coworkers. As I roamed through the small cemetery that is on the grounds of this torture prison, however, I thought to myself, “How can I live in this country and be anything but a conservative?” This is the first part in the series.

The Nixon Doctrine and the Vietnam War are often cited as the primary precursors to the outbreak of a genocidal regime in Cambodia in the late 1970s, called the Khmer Rouge. While I am not defending the bombing of the countryside, I would like to at least explain the justification. This picture is taken from a summary of the history of the Khmer Rouge written by Helen Jarvis. As a background, Dr. Jarvis is the head of the Victims Unit of the war tribunal currently underway in Phnom Penh, trying a man called “Duch” who was the leader of the aforementioned torture prison. Dr. Jarvis is an avowed Leninist as well as accused of being far too close to the bordering on dictatorial Cambodian government. This summary of events leading to the Khmer Rouge is prominently displayed in Toul Sleng currently.

As you can see, in 1954, Cambodian communists were beginning to plan operations in Hanoi. Nine years later, a secret agreement was made to make Cambodia a hiding ground for Vietnamese communists.

I was raised to abhor the Vietnam War and all its participants. My mother attended protests while she was still in her preteens. As I walk through Cambodia, and given that I have spent almost a year of my life in this country, I’m starting to question this presumption. The overhead bombings gave strength and power to the communist party in this country, that cannot be denied. While the tactics were misguided, the intentions were not. US Foreign policy was centred around fighting the communist threat, which should not to be minimized in the year 2010. The United States was fighting an ideology that has killed more than any other in human history. Marxist thought is responsible for millions of deaths not only in Cambodia, but also in China, Russia, and Cuba; to name just a few.

So how is it that I can live in Cambodia and support the Republican Party? The Republican Party was trying to protect this country, this region, and the world, from the most dangerous philosophy the human race has ever devised. The “progressive” wing of the country at that time, in comparison, were defending and at times even lauding this new “utopia”. How could I be anything but?


Written by bethanyshondark

March 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. Sorry, cousin, but there are bones in here I need to pick.

    You cannot justify and not defend a specific action at the same time. You can explain the motivation, but ultimately it’s right or wrong, and you have admitted to said course of action to be wrong. The motivation of the Unabomber or other terrorists is interesting and may make us relate to their point of view, but ultimately their actions are morally wrong.

    Which misguided tactics are you referring to? The wiping out of civilian villages? The rape of women? The draft of poor young men to go to war while rich kids were exempt for being in college? The massive opiate trade? The fighting of an evil ideology and the crimes of the enemy do not excuse the war crimes we committed. Just because Communism is wrong, it does not make us right. It just makes us morally wrong also. The lesser of two evils argument only leads to evil and to minimize the crimes we committed as you are doing, and most right wingers do, only does the same amount of damage, if not more, as minimizing the threat of Communism.


    March 6, 2010 at 5:36 am

  2. Bethany is full of interesting ideas and insights!


    March 15, 2010 at 4:27 am

  3. Fighting a “communist threat”? hahahaha. I dont think a land free from oppression would be such a bad thing. Human nature (and the pursuit of power) just always seems to get in the way. PS Ryan has a great response. cheers.


    April 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  4. Saying the western left is ideologically allied with Pol Pot is just like saying that the right is allied with Hitler.

    While you clearly have some ideals and you should be proud of pursuing them, your arguments are as thin as paper.


    June 7, 2010 at 10:55 am

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