Some years ago, a Russian woman friend of mine described what it was like in her classroom – she was eight at the time – when Stalin died. She sat there apprehensive something would happen to her while her classmates and teachers wept and sobbed over the death of the man who was probably history’s greatest mass murderer.
I was reminded of this story when I read (via Normblog and several emails from readers) this strange tale of weeping over the departure of Arafat by West Bank BBC Correspondent Barbara Plett. Apparently the Palestinians knew something that Ms. Plett didn’t know. They didn’t turn out for the caudillo’s departure, but the BBC’s woman-in-place was somehow moved. Her reason:
Despite his obvious failings – his use of corruption, his ambivalence towards violence, his autocratic way of ruling – no one could accuse him of cowardice.
I guess you could say the same thing of Stalin, Hitler and Attila the Hun. Kinda brings tears to your eyes, don’t it? (I wonder what her defnition of “ambivalence” is)