We don’t have to wonder how fascism and mass murder take root and become justified. It seems that humans will worship anyone who is (or was) perceived to have extreme power, even if that power was used to murder millions of people. Superstition and ‘spiritual’ beliefs kick this phenomenon into high gear.
ANLONG VENG, Cambodia (AP) — Ten years after the death of brutal Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, his grave has become a symbol of spiritual comfort to some in the village where he is buried.
Villagers pray at the site, asking for blessings of luck, happiness and even protection from malaria — despite the mayhem he wrought upon their country. He died on April 15, 1998, apparently of heart failure.
“I know it is odd, but I just do as many people here do, asking for happiness from his spirit,” said Orn Pheap, a 37-year-old woman who lost a grandfather and two uncles during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.
For most, Pol Pot is remembered as a murderous tyrant with fanatical communist beliefs. Under his leadership, the Khmer Rouge turned the country into a vast slave labor camp, causing the deaths of some 1.7 million people from starvation, forced labor and execution.
But Cambodians believe in the influence of spirits and superstitious forces on their daily lives and fortunes, which may be why some worship at Pol Pot’s grave.
Last week, the grave — a pile of dirt covered by a knee-high corrugated zinc roof — was cluttered with clay jars filled with half-burned incense sticks, a sign of prayer and worship.
Many may still view their former tormentor as a powerful figure, said Philip Short, author of “Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare,” a biography of the former despot.
“Evil or good is not the issue,” Short said. “He has imposed himself on Cambodians’ imaginations, and in that sense he lives on” in the spirit world.
Just wow. Is there anything a ‘religious’ figure can’t do and still be worshipped? If killing and starving millions of people doesn’t prevent veneration, what possibly could? How lost and desperate can people be? I’m speechless.