Originally created 05/17/03

Beneath their feet



Tifton, proudly notes native Judy Calheiros, has been ranked "The Cleanest City in the USA," one of the Top 100 Best Small Towns in America by author Norman Crampton - and home of the planet's most voracious young readers, whose accumulated "Accelerated Reader" points made it the "Reading Capital of the World."

The thought of this thriving, exemplary Georgia community of 15,000 helps put in perspective the horror of what is being unearthed now in Iraq.

Under the dirt and sand scooped up by tractors and fingernails in cities south of Baghdad lies what once was a potential Tifton - a community of up to 15,000 souls who will never have the opportunity to create one of the Top 100 Best Small Towns in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein stripped them of that chance when his evil regime slaughtered them and tried to conceal the crimes in mass graves.

Up to 200,000 such souls disappeared from Earth under the evil eye of Saddam Hussein, according to Human Rights Watch.

That would be the equivalent of 13 Tiftons.

President Bush told the world and told the world and told the world what an evil man it was who was ruling Iraq. But after awhile the pronouncements seemed like piling on, hyperbole, the delusions of war's fever.

The wailing, crying, mourning Shiites - loved ones of those killed by the butcher of Baghdad after their 1991 uprising - know better. They know the evil that's been lifted from their shoulders.

The tragic evidence lies beneath their feet.

Human rights advocates so often get it wrong. Libya is in charge of human rights at the United Nations, for instance. And while Saddam was shoveling the last bit of dirt on his mass graves in Iraq - and Lord knows what atrocities were going on in North Korea and elsewhere - some in the human rights movement were wringing their hands over U.S. treatment of illegal combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

We've been reminded that those atrocities which occur under the noses of human rights watchers ultimately show up under the feet of victims' families.