Term Paper: Killed My Father, by Loung

Pages: 7 (2473 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] There does not seem to be any way to rid the world of these people, or keep them from creating such havoc with their nations, and that, perhaps more than anything else, is the most frightening thing reading this book really brings home to the reader.

Another question also remains. How did this regime take and hold power for so long in Cambodia? Clearly, they terrified the people into submission. If you did not submit, you were shot; it was as simple as that. However, there were underlying factors, which caused many of the people to support the Khmer Rouge, and the deep divide between rich and poor was one of those factors. Another way they controlled the people was by literally controlling their thinking. They would not allow the children to be educated, and they eradicated anyone who might be smart enough to lead a rebellion against them. Thus, they used ignorance as a tool. They were smart enough to recognize that education might encourage questions - questions they were not prepared to answer with anything other than violence, and so they forbid the educating of young, inquisitive minds. The most evil regimes tend to be the most constrictive and restrictive of their people, because they realize their control only hangs on by a thread. The Khmer Rouge certainly recognized how vulnerable they were to intellectual thought, which would immediately see through their control and violence, and so they simply removed the problem by forbidding education and intellectual thought.

Only the most uneducated peasants would truly believe in the propaganda the Angkar (government) continually feeds the people, such as: "The Angkar says our new society will produce many thousand kilograms of a rice surplus within two years. Then we'll eat as much rice as we want. And we sill be self-reliant. Only by becoming self-reliant will the country be master of its own fate" (Ung 65).

Before the regime, Cambodia was reasonably technologically advanced, and relied on a wide variety of trade and business options. The Khmer Rouge seemed to want to take the country backward into the dark ages, reliant on no outside corrupting "Western" influences, but also unable to compete in the modern, mechanized world. A country cannot survive when it is held back from advancing along with the rest of the world, and becoming "self-reliant" based totally on rice is not only ridiculous, it is short-sighted. As the author notes, "Though the Angkar says we are all equal in Democratic Kampuchea, we are not. We live and are treated like slaves. In our garden, the Angkar provides us with seeds and we may plant anything we choose, but everything we grow belongs not to us but to the community" (Ung 66). This shortsightedness will be the regime's downfall, as it has with any cruel and violent regime throughout history. You cannot treat people so cruelly without them rising up in revolt, no matter how much you try to control them. The killing and the viciousness turned the author into someone who truly hated Pol Pot and his regime, and it did the same to thousands of others. "His government has created a vengeful, bloodthirsty people. Pol Pot has turned me into someone who wants to kill" (Ung 205). Eventually, the cruel victor will become the vanquished, and the entire cycle will begin again.

Clearly, Ung's experience and that of the other members of her family was a common one, and yet, it was not the only experience in Cambodia. In other areas, the Khmer Rouge leaders were not as violent and the food was more plentiful. For some Cambodians, the Khmer Rouge regime must have, at least at first, appeared a blessing. Food was rationed equally, labor was spread evenly, and the farms and villages had leaders who understood the peasant ways and customs. Ung's Uncle Leung did not experience nearly the violence and hunger that the Ung's faced every day. Therefore, historically, Ung's account of her four years under Khmer Rouge rule is an accurate account for the people in her area, but written by another, in another area of Cambodia, the story could have been entirely different. This is one of the problems with history; everyone experiences it just a bit differently.

Looking back on this time in Cambodia, it is difficult to read about, and even more difficult to think about living through. That this family who came from a sheltered and pampered life in the city could survive the atrocities of the regime says something about their inner strength and character. That any human being could treat another so brutally also says something about the character of those in charge in the regime. While the people were starving in the countryside while they built a "new" Cambodia, people like Pol Pot were getting fatter, and more prosperous. Clearly, Communism was not the core of this regime; capitalism was at the core, as the leaders took the profits - leaving their people to starve. Some of the world's most despicable regimes have had the same selfish motive, and all of them have eventually collapsed. Stalin's regime in Soviet Russia was equally vicious and equally avaricious, and so was Hitler's. Eventually, they all fell due in the most part to the excessive cruelties they inflicted on their chosen enemies. Hitler's were the Jews, Stalin's were the opponents to his new world order, and Pol Pot's were anyone who might rise up against him. Unfortunately, there are others who are always willing to take their place, as the regime of Saddam Hussein clearly shows. Who knows how many others are out there, waiting to follow in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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