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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 15. July 26, 1939



"Massacre" is a good word, which may be defined as large-scale killing of the defenceless perpetrated in a cause of which one disapproves. Technically it can be used of one's own side but somehow that doesn't happen. Both in Spain and in Russia "massacres" took place on both sides. Since by the accident of history we are civilised people with a democratic tradition, not troubled much by passions of fear, bitter frustration hatred and revenge, we don't under stand murder except as a kind of madness. Besides in our part of the world we see little of the daily massacre and torture inflicted by Poverty, more deadly than war and a hundred times more deadly than all the revolutions the world has ever seen. We are not complacent about any massacres. In Russia and Spain the working people faced armed insurrection supported soon by foreign troops, foreign munitions, and foreign money. Even in Russia it was not democracy they expected if they were beaten. The excesses of the Nazis cannot be extenuated by danger from abroad (—for anyone would admit that armed aggression by Russia against Germany or Italy would have found nearly all the rest of Europe supporting the nations attacked).

Atrocities are too often red herrings dragged across the trail of truth by those who do not want the real trail followed. It is occasionally possible but usually impossible to compare one great movement's record with another. Christians in religious wars and peacetime persecutions have committed "atrocities" certainly as bad and probably worse than those of the Communists. How many of us would like the stories of the Albigenses, the Thirty Years' War Cromwell in Ire land, the Spaniards in Holland, and other gruesome tales to dominate men's ideas of Christianity, as much as the true and false stories of Red terror dominate the usual Christian attitude to Communism?