POIGNANCY AND PREJUDICE: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher sat with the Hazara family in today's story about war crime tribunals (page 8) for close to two hours. She heard about the son who was rounded up and killed, an uncle who was beaten, and about persecution under the Taliban, in part because they are a minority. "Each story was so poignant and compelling, that I didn't feel like leaving. I could see how painful their losses were. It's hard to just thank them and leave as though your business is done. I lingered and mumbled some words of hope about finding justice."
But as Ilene and the interpreter she was working with got into the car, she realized how deep the resentment between Afghans can be. "The interpreter - a Tajik - started ranting on about how much he hated 'those people,' the Hazaras. 'As much as I hate the Taliban, I prefer them to the Hazaras,' he said." He told Ilene about atrocities committed by Hazara warlords, and pointed to sections of Kabul razed by Hazaras.
"Still, his lack of compassion floored me, considering he'd just heard the same stories I had for the last two hours. It made me question how much one person's tragedy penetrates the consciousness of another. He couldn't grasp the idea that even among your enemy's people there are innocent victims."
- David Clark Scott
SHOPPING BEATS TALKING: More than 50 percent of Russians regard the main benefit of a decade of post-Soviet reform to be the introduction of a Western-style shopping culture, Interfax reports. But only 28 percent of those polled by the Russian Academy of Sciences felt that free speech was the most important outcome of the end of Communism in 1991. On the down side, 54 percent of Russians said the decline of living standards was the worst development, and 35 percent cited a "moral decline."