Sifting through decades of testimony of people caught up in the horrors of violent zealotry, a writer grapples with what hasn’t changed in our new world of terror

Roger Rosenblatt in The Atlantic:

ScreenHunter_2222 Sep. 17 12.43Here, lying in a stained carton, are notes on a refugee camp in Tanzania, where surviving Tutsis and their Hutu enemies lived side by side in blue tarp tents. It is 1994. The notes record that there are people everywhere, milling and moving in short parades on the main path in the camp, hastily constructed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Women wear colorful cloths, khangas, and carry yellow plastic containers of water on their heads. Children and old men push up against one another, as if at a bargain sale. They hold portable radios to their ears. A man in a brown rain hat drags a reluctant goat by a rope. White smoke mixes with the smells of fresh earth and excrement. At an outdoor butcher shop, a cow’s bloodied horn lies beside the animal’s astonished head. I greet a group of young Hutus in French. “Did you participate in the killings?,” I ask. “We did nothing,” one says. “Did you see others do the killing?” He says, “We saw nothing.” I ask, “How many Tutsis are left in Rwanda, do you think?” A teenage boy wearing a green baseball cap grins, and slowly draws the side of his index finger across his throat.

Here are several photos of and notes on Divis Flats, a Catholic neighborhood, or stronghold, in Belfast. It is 1981. Coiled barbed wire runs atop a long gray wall on which is written smash h-block, a reference to the British prison in which members of the Irish Republican Army are held. Windows are pockmarked with bullet holes and display black flags of mourning for hunger strikers. Rats skitter in huge sewage pits, soggy with rain. Glass chips cover streets that are interrupted by “dragon’s teeth,” huge blocks of stone set out by the British army in uneven rows to prevent fast getaways.

More here. [Thanks to Wolf Böwig.]

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