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SCOTT DREYER: Lessons From Cambodia (II)

Recently a young couple spoke at church about their call to be Christian missionaries to the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia. (During the mere three years, eight months, and twenty days the communist Khmer Rouge ruled that land, about one-fourth of the population died. You can get a brief overview of that nation’s tragic history in “Lessons from Cambodia (I).”

After the couple spoke and the service ended, a friend came up and we started chatting. “What a tragic history Cambodia has had,” we agreed, when he added: “You know the same things are happening here.”

Granted, events here in the US are–blessedly–not to the same extent as in Cambodia from 1975-1979. We are not seeing people wearing glasses getting hauled off, having a plastic bag put on their head, and summarily getting their brains blown out by machine-gun-toting 14-year-olds. 

However, if you scratch below the surface and are intellectually honest, you will see there are some eerie parallels between the communist Khmer Rouge and the US today. Again, just so no one hyperventilates: I am not claiming circumstances are identical; however, there are parallels

  • Widespread Ignorance: As the Khmer Rouge took over parts of Cambodia, among their first targets were the educated. Intellectuals are bright enough to see problems coming, can think up escape routes or solutions, and can mobilize resistance to tyranny. Therefore, the educated are almost always the first to find their heads on the chopping block when dictators take over.  In communists Cambodia, being a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, professor, journalist, business owner, or even being able to speak a second or third language marked you for immediate execution. Wearing eyeglasses did the same. In the twisted thinking of the Khmer Rouge, if you were rich enough to be able to afford glasses and be able to read and write, that made you “an enemy of the people.”

How about us nowadays? The dumbing down of America is legendary. How about the guy from New Mexico who moved to Virginia and went to the DMV but was told he could not get a Virginia driver’s license without showing his passport or green card? Or the lady who called the talk radio show about reducing deer-auto collisions, and thought the best solution was to always put “Deer Crossing” signs near schools or congested areas because people would be driving slower in those places already? These are not some satire from The Onion or The Babylon Bee.  They really happened. 

In some parts of the US and even Virginia today, we hear rumblings about ending Advanced Placement (AP) and other such Honors courses. Why? In the name of “fairness” and “equity.” It is always easier to pull top-performing students down, than to pull poorly-performing students up. 

During the George W. Bush years, the education mantra was “No Child Left Behind.”  In today’s “woke” America, the mantra for some is “No Child Too Far Ahead.” 

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” No wonder tyrants demand their subjects be ignorant; such folks are easier to control.

  • Public Shaming: The Khmer Rouge, before they would execute people, would often indulge in “re-education” and public shaming. The line of attack would run along the lines of: “Shame on you for (fill-in-the-blank) being a doctor/going to college/owning rental property/speaking French/having friends in other countries,” etc.

Today here? If you do not think we have public shaming here, try posting something “politically incorrect” on social media–or ask if the 2020 election was stolen–and then duck from the firestorm. That is, if big tech does not delete your post or put you in “time out” first.

Do you see any parallels? 

Scott Dreyer in his classroom.

– Scott Dreyer


Night of the Khmer Rouge

Thomas Jefferson quotation


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