American Pravda: The Rwandan Genocide

n sharp contrast, the grim events of the last four weeks have been widely watched around the world on electronic and social media. In just one month some 10,000 civilians have been killed in Gaza, a total larger than the combined losses on both sides in the past twenty months of the Ukraine war.

American Pravda: The Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide

by Ron Unz :

Although I sometimes fall short, I always try to be very accurate and careful in my writing, doing my best to avoid the mistakes that might be eagerly pounced upon by my legion of harsh critics. This is especially necessary when discussing the ultra-controversial topics that are so often the focus of my essays.

For example, a few weeks after Israel began its brutal military assault on Gaza in retaliation for the October 7th Hamas raid, one of my articles included the following passage: Last Thursday, most of the world was still reeling from the televised devastation in Gaza, as a densely-populated portion of one of its largest refugee camps was demolished by multiple 2,000-pound Israeli bombs, apparently killing hundreds of helpless Palestinian civilians, most of them women and children.

Soon afterward on CNN, pro-Israel former AIPAC staffer Wolf Blitzer questioned an Israeli military spokesman about the horrific loss of human life and was told that the massive attack had been completely justified because the Israelis believed that a Hamas commander was in the vicinity.

These are blatant war crimes, probably the worst ever televised in the history of the world, or at least I can’t recall anything comparable. Admittedly there have been far larger modern massacres, such as in 1994 Rwanda where according to Wikipedia the Hutus butchered many hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi neighbors with machetes; but both the Hutu killers and their Tutsi victims were mostly primitive African villagers, so none of those dark deeds were ever broadcast live on global television.

In sharp contrast, the grim events of the last four weeks have been widely watched around the world on electronic and social media. In just one month some 10,000 civilians have been killed in Gaza, a total larger than the combined losses on both sides in the past twenty months of the Ukraine war. Despite the fulminations of Western media outlets, since early 2022 only about 550 children have been killed in Ukraine, while after just a few weeks the total in Gaza has passed 4,000. Moreover, while the Ukraine war was fought between powerful, well-equipped modern armies on both sides, the defenseless civilians of Gaza are being relentlessly pounded by one of the world’s most lavishly-armed military forces.

My point was that although the 1994 genocide of Rwanda’s Tutsis was obviously vastly larger in scale than anything the Israelis were doing in Gaza, the former had occurred out of sight, while the latter was currently being televised worldwide.

Since then, I’ve repeatedly described the ongoing attacks on Gaza as constituting “the greatest televised massacre of helpless civilians in the history of the world,” making sure that I always include the word “televised” to maintain the accuracy of my statement. When we read a few sentences in a history book explaining that Tamerlane built mountains of skulls during his 1387 conquest of Persia, the psychological impact is far less than when we see a photo-laden magazine story of the the few hundred Vietnamese villagers killed in the 1969 My Lai massacre, let alone the ongoing annihilation of Gaza’s Palestinians live-streamed on social media.

For similar reasons, I’d been extremely reluctant to describe these ongoing events as a “genocide” even though that word is so widely used by other critics of Israel’s actions. I had preferred to reserve that momentous term for events such as those in Rwanda, during which militant Hutus spent 100 days slaughtering the bulk of their Tutsi compatriots, seeking to completely exterminate that ethnic group with bullets and machete-blows.

But in my quoted passage I was also careful to include one additional disclaimer. I stated that my description of the notorious Rwanda genocide, one of the largest in all human history, was “according to Wikipedia,” indicating that I was drawing my information from the 21,000 word article on that subject.

Until several years ago, I wouldn’t have bothered to include that clarification given that the general facts of that horrific 1994 slaughter seemed so well known and universally accepted. I’d read the stories in my newspapers at the time, and subsequently seen them cited and discussed in countless articles since then. Leading journalists had published numerous books on the subject, whose favorable reviews I’d read, while I’d also seen the Oscar-nominated 2004 film Hotel Rwanda dramatizing part of that story. I’d never had the slightest doubts about the reality and circumstances of those terrible events, nor had I realized that anyone else did. And if everyone agrees that a historical incident happened in a particular way, there’s no need for even the most careful writer to hedge himself when he cites it.

But back in 2021 I’d republished a lengthy article that claimed the entire story I’d always accepted was almost totally false and largely inverted, and it seemed sufficiently detailed and sober that I afterwards felt I needed to be much more circumspect whenever I mentioned it.

It’s probably worth briefly sketching out the background and history of what had happened in 1994 Rwanda, which I’d absorbed at the time from all my newspapers and magazines, later reinforced by the popular film and numerous subsequent references throughout the mainstream media.

Both Rwanda and neighboring Burundi were small African states, landlocked, impoverished, and densely-populated, each containing two distinct ethnic groups, the tall, slender Tutsis, who had traditionally been cattle herdsmen, and the shorter, stockier Hutu cultivators. For centuries prior to the appearance of the Europeans, both those countries had been feudal kingdoms, ruled by their 15% Tutsi minorities, and after the Germans assumed suzerainty in the late nineteenth century, the latter continued to exercise control through the Tutsis, as did the Belgians, who received the territory as spoils from the First World War. Although independence came in the wake of World War II, Tutsi rule continued, but in 1959 Rwanda’s 85% Hutu majority overthrew its Tutsi monarchy, and the waves of resulting ethnic bloodshed and massacres during the 1960s led large numbers of its Tutsis to flee elsewhere, mostly into neighboring Uganda. Meanwhile, Burundi was also wracked by similar ethnic conflict and massacres, mostly inflicted by the ruling Tutsis against its large and restive Hutu majority.

The Tutsi exiles in Uganda eventually became a very substantial component of the leading rebel army, which successfully overthrew the Ugandan government in 1986, and in 1990 they launched a military campaign to overthrow Rwanda’s Hutu government as well, gradually gaining ground over the next several years. Combined with international pressure in the aftermath of the Cold War, their efforts finally forced Rwanda’s Hutu president to sign a peace agreement, allowing the return of the Tutsi exiles, establishing power-sharing between the two groups, and arranging to hold democratic elections. A prominent local Tutsi was named prime minister and a couple of thousand UN peacekeepers were brought in to oversee the reconciliation process. However, on April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the returning Rwandan president together with his Burundian counterpart was shot down as it approached for landing, triggering a gigantic wave of ethnic bloodshed and massacres across that sharply divided society.

According to the conventional narrative, an extremist Hutu leadership unwilling to share power had been responsible for the assassination of the more accomodating Hutu president, and they quickly seized control, immediately unleashing a long-planned campaign of genocide against their hated Tutsi minority while also slaughtering any moderate Hutus. All prominent Tutsis were marked for death, with most of them killed, while the genocidal broadcasts of Hutu radio propaganda persuaded a large fraction of that population to join in those grisly massacres, even as the rest of the world stood by and did nothing, including nearly all of the hugely outnumbered UN peacekeepers.

This massive killing rampage against Tutsis went on for several months, with a large majority of that population being annihilated, along with any Hutus deemed sympathetic to them. The bloodshed was only finally halted by the military victory of the Tutsi rebel army, which defeated the government forces and their genocidal militia allies and gained control of most of Rwanda. At that point, the Hutu leadership and many participants in the slaughter fled the country, along with ordinary Hutus fearful of Tutsi vengeance, so some 1.5 million Hutus became refugees in neighboring Congo. These Hutus and the larger number who remained behind now greatly suffered as well, with the victorious Tutsis committing some massacres of their own, but the Tutsi leader Paul Kagame did his best to restrain his men and try to restore ethnic coexistence between the two groups, while welcoming back many hundreds of thousands of Tutsi exiles who had been living for decades in Uganda and elsewhere.

An enormously influential account of that story was provided by journalist Philip Gourevitch, a staff writer for the New Yorker who spent much of his time in Rwanda during the years 1995 to 1998, writing a series of articles on the aftermath of the massacre, while also producing important pieces for the New York Times Magazine and the New York Review of Books. This original reporting then furnished the basis for his 1998 New York Times bestseller, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, which won numerous critical awards and attracted tremendously positive reviews all across the elite and mainstream media. I recently finally read it to refresh my memory of those events of nearly thirty years ago.

His subtitle “Stories from Rwanda” was very descriptive, and the author interviewed hundreds of Rwandans during his extensive visits, seeming to do a very good job of reporting their individual experiences during that horrifying period and weaving them together into a comprehensive narrative of what had transpired. Indeed, the first half of his book dealt with the period of the genocide itself and his narrative seemed so detailed that I’d initially assumed that the author himself must have been present around the time the events unfolded, but I then noticed that he had only arrived the following year and was therefore relying upon his later interviews to describe the earlier sequence of events.

Most of the individual whom he spoke with had been Tutsi survivors, and some of these had seen nearly their entire families butchered by the Hutu death squads, which went house-to-house slaughtering their Tutsi neighbors while also setting up roadblocks, stopping and killing any Tutsis who crossed their path.

Although Hutus and Tutsis had had a long history of episodic bloody conflict and on average looked different enough that they could often be distinguished, they spoke the same language and prayed in the same Catholic churches, while intermarriage was hardly uncommon. Some of the most grisly stories involved the consequences of the latter situation, with a few of the Hutus most energetic in the death squads later claiming that they took that leadership role in order to protect their Tutsi wives from suffering the same fate, sometimes even killing the families of the latter to demonstrate their commitment. The offspring of such mixed marriages were usually considered sufficiently Tutsi to be worthy of death, and the author described how a Hutu mother watched in helpless horror as her half-Tutsi children were butchered by a mob.

I’ve never been to Rwanda and I’m not sure I’ve ever met a single Rwandan, so all I know about that country, its society and its people, has come from the words of Western journalists and researchers such as Gourevitch. But the mentality of the killers he interviewed struck me as rather strange and surprising.

Despite intermittent bloodshed, Hutus and Tutsis had lived together on reasonably friendly terms for decades, but then one day the former picked up their machetes and suddenly began chopping up the families of their next-door neighbors. When the author asked some of those imprisoned killers how they could have done such a monstrous thing, he was given answers such as “everyone else was doing it” or “the radio told us to kill all the Tutsis.” This hardly seemed a very satisfying explanation for the most rapid campaign of mass extermination in modern history, occasionally using guns or grenades, but more often relying upon machetes or simple farm implements. Catholic priests and nuns also sometimes joined in the slaughter, assisting in the massacre of their own parishioners.

The social aftermath of the genocide also seemed quite difficult for Westerners to comprehend. According to Gourevitch, a large majority of all the Tutsis had been killed and a very substantial fraction of all the adult male Hutus had been direct participants, so huge numbers of the brutal killers and the wretched survivors remained in close proximity. Many of those Tutsis were forced to live on the same street—or even share the same house!—with the Hutus whom they knew or suspected had slaughtered their own families a few months earlier. Gourevitch describes the anger and bitterness of some of those victims, but it still seems just a small fraction of what one might expect, and although he mentions some of the vigilante killings that occurred, I’m surprised that the number was not vastly greater.

One of the notable figures in Gourevitch’s book was the brave Hutu manager of the leading foreign-owned luxury hotel in Rwanda, whose Tutsi wife inspired him to offer refuge to many hundreds of her desperate co-ethnics, and by a mixture of bluff, bribery, and pure luck, he managed to keep the mobs of killers at bay, allowing them all to survive. His remarkable story became the basis of the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, which probably provides most of what Americans and others know about that enormous genocide.

But by far the most heroic individual portrayed by the author was Paul Kagame, a child of Tutsi exiles raised in Uganda, who became the military leader of the rebel army that overthrew Rwanda’s murderous Hutu regime and thereby stopped the ongoing slaughter in its tracks, achieving that success while America and every other powerful Western country merely dithered. Without him and his small but determined army of Tutsi exiles, the genocide would surely have been carried to completion, resulting in the deaths of virtually every Rwandan Tutsi, whether man, woman, or child.

Once Kagame established his new government, he installed a Hutu president as a symbol of ethnic reconciliation in a country that was 85% Hutu. But he exercised the real power as vice president and defense minister, and according to the author’s account, he did his best to minimize vengeance and retaliatory massacres in the aftermath of the genocide of his own people. Many of the ringleaders were killed and tens of thousands of their underlings were imprisoned under dreadful conditions, but compared to the hundreds of thousands of innocent Tutsis that they had so recently butchered, such retribution seemed remarkably mild.

Gourevitch’s interviews with Kagame portrayed him as a remarkable individual, not only far more thoughtful and intellectual than anyone would expert in an African military commander, but also someone with a sense of humility and self-deprecating humor, seeking to restore normal life in his blood-drenched country. As a consequence of Kagame’s very positive portrayal and the deep Western shame and guilt over permitting the Rwandan genocide, his regime became an important recipient of American aid. His efforts at ethnic reconciliation were widely portrayed in our media as sincere and surprisingly successful given the immense recent bloodshed, with Kagame presented as one of a new generation of enlightened African rulers, totally different than their corrupt, despotic, and bloodthirsty predecessors. Gourevitch praised Kagame as “the Abraham Lincoln” of Rwanda and most of the Western media took the same view.

As the author explained, many of the worst Hutu killers and their henchmen had fled across the border into neighboring Congo, accompanied by some 1.5 million ordinary Hutus, terrified of the vengeance that they expected to face in Rwanda at the hands of the newly victorious Tutsis. The Congo was a vast but very poorly governed country under the longtime misrule of its corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who made little effort to enforce local order in the lands he controlled, a territory 90 times larger than Rwanda and having many times the population. As a consequence, the Hutu exiles established enclaves from which they regularly raided Rwanda, killing all the Tutsis they encountered, as well as massacring many of the Congo’s own ethnic Tutsi population.

Repeated warnings and threats by Kagame and small counter-raids failed to halt these Hutu attacks, so after a couple of years, Kagame formed a military alliance with several other African nations including Uganda, and launched an invasion of his huge Congo neighbor. His forces easily defeated that country’s ineffective army and he overthrew Mobutu’s regime, installing a different Congolese leader whom he had recruited for the post. Although it received very little attention in the American media, this First Congo War was sometimes nicknamed Africa’s First World War because it drew in more than a half-dozen different nations in confused and shifting alliances and replaced the government of a country as large as all of Western Europe. Although the death toll was considerable, with hundreds of thousands of civilians dead or “missing,” these events came near the very end of Gourevitch’s narrative and he marked it a triumph for Kagame, who destroyed the extremist Hutu forces while forcing the majority of the Hutu refugees to return to Rwanda, although many others died in massacres.

According to our standard narrative, the 1994 events in Rwanda were almost a textbook-perfect example of genocide, with a ruthless government seeking to totally exterminate the local Tutsi population and successfully killing a large majority of them. All this took place at the absolute peak of America’s international power and prestige—our nation’s “unipolar moment”—yet in obvious violation of all our anti-genocide conventions, neither Washington nor any other major powers took any forceful steps to stop it.

Rwanda had an extremely feeble military and most of the killings were carried out by local Hutu militias, often armed with nothing more formidable than machetes. The military commander of the UN peace-keeping force stationed in that country declared that if he were merely given 5,000 well-equipped troops, he could have immediately ended the slaughter, but instead he was prohibited from taking any action and the best troops under his command were withdrawn. The Clinton Administration was terrified of suffering political damage if it got bogged down in an obscure African conflict so it looked the other way, hoping that the ongoing Rwanda massacre would be limited to a few tens of thousands of victims as had been the case in the past. The killings only stopped when Kagame’s rag-tag force of Tutsi exiles defeated the Rwandan army and seized control of the entire country.

Once the grim facts about the massive scale of the genocide became widely known, elite Western political and media circles felt tremendous shame that their governments had done nothing.

Samantha Power was then in her mid-20s, a naturalized Irish immigrant who had graduated from Yale and was working as an overseas war correspondent. She and many others were outraged that no American officials had resigned in protest over their government’s lack of action over Rwanda, a personal sacrifice that might have provoked enough media attention to pressure the West into taking action, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Returning to America to attend Harvard law school, that simmering righteous anger—heightened as realized that lack of timely government action had also occurred in other such situations—inspired her to write a paper on the subject.

That paper eventually grew into her first book, “A Problem from Hell” running 600 pages and carrying the subtitle “America and the Age of Genocide.” Published in 2002 when Power was just 31, it quickly became an international sensation, glowingly reviewed almost everywhere, a huge bestseller that won her a Pulitzer Prize and launched her career as a leading figure in human rights doctrine, someone who had seemingly shifted American national policy on an important global issue.

Although I’d certainly been aware of her book when it first appeared, I only just recently read it as part of my Rwanda investigation and discovered that it had attracted even more accolades than I’d ever realized. My 2013 paperback edition devotes a full page to listing the awards it won and another page to the many major newspapers and other publications that had named it one of the best books of the year. Seven additional pages contained excerpts from 63 glowing reviews and endorsements by a very long list of prominent intellectual and political figures, a list so extremely long that I noticed the careless editor had accidentally duplicated at least one of those entries. I can’t recall the last time I’d seen a book that had attracted such seemingly near-universal praise.

Just as might be expected, the chapter on Rwanda was one of the longest, and the story it told seemed fully congruent with that of Gourevitch, though with a different focus. Power emphasized the top-level policy decision-making of the Clinton Administration and other international bodies rather than the grisly eyewitness accounts of the killers and their victims.

One important point that Power made was that just the previous year, Tutsi military officers in neighboring Burundi had assassinated that country’s first freely-elected Hutu president, leading to widespread communal violence that cost some 50,000 lives. As a consequence, Western leaders including those in the Clinton Administration had vaguely assumed that 1994 Rwanda was undergoing “another flare-up” that would result in a similar level of “acceptable” total casualties. But she explains that instead:

The Rwandan genocide would prove to be the fastest, most efficient killing spree of the twentieth century. In 100 days, some 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were murdered. The United States did almost nothing to try to stop it.

Power also emphasized some of the political background behind the total unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to become involved in Rwanda. In 1992, the preceding Bush Administration had deployed American military forces to Somalia as part of a UN humanitarian operation to manage and protect the delivery of food supplies amid a famine and an anarchic civil war. Then in 1993 Clinton had authorized American forces to capture one of the local warlords deemed responsible for attacking UN troops, resulting in the disastrous “Battle of Mogadishu” in which determined Somali militiamen shot down three Black Hawk helicopters. Hundreds of Somali fighters and civilians died in the fighting along with eighteen members of our elite special forces, while many dozens more American troops were wounded, and the body of one of the our fallen soldiers was dragged through the streets of the city before cheering crowds. The images of that last embarrassing incident were broadcast worldwide, giving America a huge political black-eye and persuading Clinton to completely withdraw our military from Somalia. Therefore, no one in his administration was very eager to risk repeating the same sort of debacle the following year in a different African country, especially with midterm elections just a few months away.

Meanwhile, the DC elected officials and lobbyists most strongly supportive of black and African issues were entirely focused upon the political disorders in Haiti, furious that Clinton had denied refugee status to all migrants from that country and ordered them repatriated. Busy staging hunger strikes and denouncing our government for its anti-Haitian racism, none of those individuals paid any attention to the distant events in East Africa even as the massacres began, with more than 10,000 killed each week. Firebrand Rep. Maxine Waters later admitted she had no knowledge of the Tutsis and Hutus, whom she “didn’t know from crap.” TransAfrica and other activist organizations were equally disengaged so media pressure for American intervention in Rwanda was minimal.

During this entire period, numerous warnings and red-flags went completely ignored. For example, Power claimed that just a couple of months before the massacres began, an anonymous Hutu informant, supposedly high in the ranks of the Rwandan government, had explicitly warned the local UN commander that the Hutu militias were being armed and trained, compiling lists of all the Tutsis in the capital city, leading him to suspect that an extermination campaign was being prepared. This powerful warning was passed along to the UN leadership in New York City, but no action was taken.

Power’s bibliographic section on Rwanda contained some two dozen books, including the one by Gourevitch, and although her account differed in emphasis and a few details, both were fully consistent with the 21,000 word Wikipedia article on the subject. Both provided the standard narrative of those events, entirely similar to what I’d absorbed from all my newspaper and magazine articles at the time and afterwards, as well as the plot of the major Hollywood film. Given such total agreement, I’d never seen fit to question that history from three decades ago, regarding the massacre of Rwanda’s Tutsis as about as clear-cut a case of genocide as I’d ever encountered in modern times.

But this settled picture was suddenly disturbed in 2021 when I was contacted by an independent Canadian journalist named Antony Black, who suggested that I consider republishing several of his long essays on controversial historical events, mostly in the form of book reviews, and after reading through them, I was very impressed and did so. One of these, originally published in 2014, shocked me by arguing that everything I had been sure I’d known about those 1994 events in Rwanda was entirely wrong and completely inverted. It seemed very solidly put together and when I featured it, most of the comments were strongly supportive.

According to the standard story, the massive killings had been organized by Rwanda’s Hutu Power extremists, who had spent months planning their genocidal project. Regarding their own Hutu president as overly moderate and compromising, they were livid when he had signed the 1993 peace agreement with the rebel army of Tutsi exiles from Uganda, agreeing to democratic elections and an ethnic power-sharing arrangement. Therefore, they shot down his plane and then immediately used the excuse of his death to unleash their campaign to completely exterminate the country’s Tutsis.

Black presented a very different history. He noted that in an 85% Hutu country with sharp ethnic divisions, the Tutsi rebels had no chance of gaining power via a democratic vote, so they were the ones with the strongest motive to overturn the agreement by assassinating the Hutu president and seizing power militarily. Indeed, a lengthy later investigation by a French judge found the Paul Kagame and his Tutsi army had been responsible for that killing, with former members of his rebel forces also making those accusations, and suppressed reports by official international investigators coming to that same conclusion. Black further claimed that Kagame’s army had abandoned the ceasefire and begun its march to the capital hours before the president had been killed, indicating the latter event was part of their plan, which amounted to a military assault and coup d’etat intended to seize the entire country. As part of this operation, they had infiltrated many thousands of rebel Tutsi fighters into the capital city, who quickly launched huge waves of attacks on the Rwandan military.

The central element of the Rwanda genocide had been the near-total extermination of Rwanda’s Tutsis, but according to Black this was a complete falsehood. He claimed that American academics who carefully studied the evidence concluded that although many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths occurred in Rwanda during those months, a large majority of these—at least two-thirds or more—were actually Hutus, killed by Kagame’s rebel Tutsi army, with the number of Hutu victims possibly reaching a million or even approaching two million. Everyone agrees that a huge wave of Hutu refugees fled into the Congo, but he argued that massacre had caused their flight rather than any fears of some hypothetical retaliation.

Black certainly admitted that large numbers of Tutsi civilians also died during those months, most of them at the hands of outraged and terrified Hutus who were retaliating in disorganized fashion for the huge slaughter they were suffering across much of the country. A million Hutu refugees fled into the capital to avoid the massacres of Kagame’s advancing Tutsi army, and they participated in these attacks, but Black argued that the notion of any centrally-planned campaign of extermination was utterly false. The single strongest piece of evidence behind such a plan was the fax report forwarded in early 1994 to the UN, reporting the secrets provided by a high-ranking Hutu informant, and this was heavily emphasized in both the books by Gourevitch and Power, but Black argues that it was an obvious forgery, a conclusion grudgingly admitted by the international tribunal organized to investigate and prosecute the Rwandan genocide.

So in the mainstream accounts, we had Hutu extremists killing the country’s president, plotting to seize power, and exterminating huge numbers of Tutsi civilians, while Black’s account was the mirror-image, with the Tutsi rebels responsible for the assassination, leading to their successful seizure of power in a military offensive, combined with their slaughter of Hutu civilians as part of that campaign. As an outsider with little knowledge of those events, I found it very difficult to judge between these polar-opposite accounts of what had really transpired during 1994 in that small African country. But I did see at least a point or two in favor of Black’s alternative version.

Wikipedia heavily supported the mainstream narrative, but it did mention some of the evidence that Kagame had actually been behind the presidential assassination that touched off the crisis, which hardly supports the theory of an extermination campaign long planned by Hutu extremists, and indeed it noted that the supposed mastermind of that project was later acquitted by an international tribunal in 2008.

My impression is that much of the standard media narrative of the genocide was formed by Gourevitch’s early reporting, which also became the basis of his huge bestseller, and if he had been on the scene at the time, I would certainly credit his account, but he only arrived in Rwanda the following year. He then interviewed many eyewitnesses who told him the details of the horrific massacres of Tutsi civilians and I’m sure that all of those incidents had occurred. But the country by that point was under the total control of Kagame and his victorious Tutsis, while a substantial fraction of all the terrified, defeated Hutus had fled into the Congo. So it seems very possible that equally true accounts of huge 1994 massacres of civilian Hutus simply never reached his ears.

As mentioned above, one of the leading individuals portrayed in Gourevitch’s story was Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu hotel manager, who saved so many Tutsi lives and was glorified as the central hero in the subsequent big budget film. But as Black pointed out, he later became a leading opponent of Kagame and his Tutsi regime, blaming them for the bulk of the 1994 killings, and eventually was imprisoned for years before finally being freed. This hardly proves Black’s case, but it does suggest that the facts might be much more complex than those provided in a simple black-and-white morality play concocted by a Hollywood screenwriter.

Black’s long article unfortunately contained few links or citations for his underlying source material, but he sent me a personal addendum in which he explained that his brother Christopher had spent a decade in Africa serving on the international tribunal that investigated and adjudicated the genocide charges and had been the source of much of his information. I can only suggest that those interested should read his analysis with an open mind and decide for themselves.