Tragedy not only in our own house

This week, for the nation and the world, will be one of memorial and regret.

Tuesday marked Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance, a time to remember the more than 6 million Jews and others killed in the German death machine during the 1930s and '40s.

The anniversary of the infamous bombing of the A. P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City will fall later this week.

By the darkest of coincidences, that slaughter came on the second anniversary of the fire that ended the siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco.

But while we remember these catastrophes, let us not avert our eyes from the heinous massacres that have happened and continue to happen elsewhere.

In 1991, the United States led a force to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi rule. Meanwhile, secessionist Kurds in Iraq were being treated even worse than Kuwaitis and were given little protection and much less freedom from the grasp of their malignant ruler.

Whole villages have been wiped out on a regular basis in Central America and Southeast Asia. Typically, the ruling governments simply erase the tiny settlements from official maps after ordering their destruction. International attention is only given to these situations when Westerners are caught in the crossfire.

In the capital of Liberia, a nation created by Americans in the last century, the army, its government and the populace are in a state of total chaos. And that doesn't even remotely begin to compare with the horrific situation across the African continent in Rwanda.

What's more, carnage and genocide taint the new national identities of the states that once made up Yugoslavia.

American response to these mass murders has varied from a token effort at stopping the violence to outright funding the governments carrying out the slaughters.

Isolationists often argue that we need to take care of the violence on our own streets before attempting to police the world.

That argument would deserve more merit if a real effort were being made to ensure domestic peace. Instead, entire sections of major U.S. cities and their inhabitants are abandoned to thugs and the disorganized crime they generate. These ghettoes are treated as foreign countries -- with clearly delineated boundaries and borders -- except when police visit to intimidate and harass residents.

We have the wealth in this country to fix ourselves up and then start work on the rest of the world. We just lack the resolve.

If America needs to clean its own house before going to work on the world, so be it. Let's grab the dust mops, bite the bullet, saddle the horses, gird the loins and get on with it.

Otherwise, we will continue ignoring global tragedies and hundreds of people will die for no good reason. And weeks of mourning and regret will continue on unto infinity, world without end. Amen.

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