Eleven years ago, a New York woman named Kitty Genovese became famous as the victim of a prolonged stabbing because 38 neighbors looked out their windows and watched the crime, but did nothing to help her. This year a similar murder took place in the same neighborhood. The callousness of the silent majority in those crimes has been universally deplored, even though it might have been costly or hazardous for anyone to have tried to save the victims.
When we are face-to-face with the tragedy of a human life about to be snuffed out, whether from accident or crime, a moral person feels compelled to attempt a rescue. You might wish you had walked down a different street; but once you are confronted with the drama of it all, most people’s conscience compels them to act.
Has the sickness of Kitty Genovese’s neighborhood extended to our entire country? Or, have we adopted Joseph Stalin’s attitude that “the death of a man can be a tragedy, but the death of a million is merely a statistic”?
For the past several weeks, we have been watching South Vietnam and Cambodia murdered, while television cameras filmed the crime. We have rejected the cries of millions of helpless people, so desperate to escape Communist control that they are abandoning all their possessions to walk or swim to freedom, even clinging to the under carriages of airplanes.
The phoniest argument of those who try to rationalize their refusal to send even a pittance of military help is the slogan: “Let’s cut off American aid in order to stop the killing.” Anyone who reads history knows that the killings start on a systematic basis after the Communists take over a country and impose their Red Peace.
The British authority Robert Conquest estimates that the Soviets · deliberately killed 21 to 30 million of their own people. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn estimates the total at 66 million. These were not deaths from war or famine, but deliberate killings to liquidate the leadership class and to impose discipline on the survivors. A U.S. Senate study estimated the killings in Communist China at 34 to 64 million.
The killings in North Vietnam were in similar proportion to the population. It can be predicted with certainty that there will be more killings in South Vietnam after the Communists take over than there were during the years of war. Just this month, Solzhenitsyn said that, if the Communists take over, “the whole of Vietnam can turn into a concentration camp.”
How our treatment of South Vietnam is affecting our allies was indicated by the statement of Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres that the collapse of American guarantees to South Vietnam prove,$ Israel made the right decision in refusing to make any further con cessions to Egypt during Kissinger’s recent peace mission.
All those who want to play the same role as the silent specta tors of Kitty Genovese’s stabbing are welcome to do so, if they can live with their own conscience. But please don’t hide behind the hypocrisy of saying that cutting off U.S. aid will ”stop the killings.”