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Why Are They Killing Innocent Civilians?

Susan Estrich on

The photos coming out of Ukraine, coupled with eyewitness accounts, leave no room for doubt. Terrible things are being done. The bodies are not just those of soldiers. Civilian casualties are skyrocketing. This is not inevitable. This is murder.

Why?

Who is giving the orders?

Of course Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals are to blame for the acts of the Russian army. But did they order this? Have they tried to stop it?

And if they do try, will it stop?

Reports of random shootings of civilians for no reason at all raise terrible questions about the human condition. Is this how human beings treat each other when they know they will get away with it? The banality of evil, brought to you by social media.

 

Ukraine is far away. We should be grateful every day that our children can play outside instead of hiding in basements, that the electricity works, that our husbands and sons, brothers and fathers, have not left home to take up arms to defend our country. I cannot imagine the lives of the mothers, trying to protect their children from things that no child should face.

Babi Yar, the famous mass grave site, lies in Ukraine. Ukrainians are no strangers to senseless violence. But that was then -- so long ago, we like to think; never again, we say to ourselves.

Yes, again, we must admit. "More killing in Ukraine," "Mass graves found," the headlines say, before reporting on weather and sports and the like. Not so different from the newspapers of the 1930s, reporting on Hitler's persecution of the Jews. We didn't know, we tell ourselves now, although that is not entirely true, not at all. We knew enough and did too little and the very existence of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a pledge that next time will be different.

Is it?

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