Social Justice: At a hearing to overturn his crimes of humanity conviction, Khmer Rouge henchman Khieu Samphan defended his crimes as done in the name of “social justice.” Funny. We hear that from Bernie Sanders, too.
Much has been made of the signature economic failures of the Democratic candidate’s professed socialism. The ongoing economic collapse in Venezuela is Exhibit A. But going hand in hand with socialism is “social justice” a concept that sounds noble for its presumption to level “the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society,” in the name of equality. “My run for office was a manifestation of commitment to social justice,” Sanders said as he began his presidential run.
And “social justice” made another appearance, this time, in the form of what they did in Cambodia after the last helicopter lifted off from the U.S. embassy roof in Saigon in 1975, an act explicitly sought by Sanders’ anti-war left.
Three million Cambodians were slaughtered as a result by the Khmer Rouge communists, who were seeking to build an “equal” society of social justice from the ground up. They accomplished it through what they called “self-reliance,” another fine-sounding buzzword meaning autarky, the isolation of the country from all outside influence and scrutiny, an explicitly anti-free trade, anti-globalization romanticist philosophy that drove millions of city dwellers to the isolated countryside. There, they were systematically enslaved, shot, starved, tortured, brainwashed and indoctrinated, turning the country into a vast boneyard. With a quarter of the country dead, the Khmer Rouge achieved their sought-after social justice of equality all right: the equality of the grave.
These were not savages. Khieu Samphan and his fellow Khmer Rouge elites were mostly Sorbonne-educated and were much feted in the radical-chic circles of Sanders’ anti-war left. Sanders remains a friend of one of the Khmer Rouge’s staunchest apologists, Noam Chomsky.
“As an intellectual, I never wanted anything other than social justice for my country,” Khieu Samphan testified last week. Note that use of the word “intellectual.”
Until these trials began, the Khmer Rouge were heroes to the Sanders left. They fiercely defended the Khmer Rouge no matter what the reports of their atrocities, because of their commitment to “social justice.” The ends justified the means. When folk singer and anti-war protestor Joan Baez began to question the crimes, she was blasted by the left.
We have yet to hear Sanders condemn the horrific “social justice” of the Khmer Rouge. Nor do we know whether “the ends justifies the means” is his own reading of social justice. From the last Democratic debate, we know he continues to blame Henry Kissinger and the war itself for crimes — but still doesn’t seem to believe the pullout from Southeast Asia led to the atrocities. Maybe that’s why he still gives the Khmer Rouge a pass.