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  • The Rape of Dinah: Human Rights, Civil War in Liberia, and Evil Triumphant
  • Kenneth L. Cain (bio)

Now Dinah, daughter to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the land, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force. Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah. Hamor came to Jacob and his sons, saying, “my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage” and offered Jacob landrights in return. Shechem also spoke to Jacob and the sons, “Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me . . . only give me this maiden for a wife.” Jacob’s sons were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter by force—a thing not to be done. The men thus answered with guile, instructing Hamor and Shechem that the sons of Hivites must be circumcised, only on this condition would they agree. The words pleased Hamor and Shechem who convinced the men of their town that in order to usher in an era of profitable relations with their neighbor Jacob, all men of the town must be circumcised.

On the third day, when the Hivites were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two brothers of Dinah,

took each his sword, came upon the city unmolested, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered town, because their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and asses, all that was inside the town and outside, all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all that was in houses, they took as captives and booty. Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “you have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed.” But they answered, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?” 1

The Rape of Dinah
Genesis, Chapter 34 [End Page 265]

The looters, the plunderers, the obsessively ambitious must not be allowed to block the cravings of the vast majority. What wickedness. 2

William Twaddell
US Ambassador to Liberia

They are writing “Angels of Death.” Look, I am no Angel of Death and I am going to prove it in this town. I am very serious, me, Charles Ghankay Taylor, I will prove that I am no Lord of War and I am no Angel of Death. If you don’t respect this presidency, you’ll respect it or I am going to lock horns with some people here one on one. They think ECOMOG here to support their nonsense and their talks. ECOMOG will not stop me. It’s almost reaching now that we will make sure that different processes; due processes of law maybe, and in some cases, the laws of the jungle to bring things under control in this town. You know Charles Taylor, we will straighten things out. 3

Charles Taylor
5 November 1995

What the journalists have failed to point out is that this time, unlike previous fighting in Monrovia, the civilians have not really suffered. . . . In the past, fighters would rip out people’s intestines and use them to string up roadblocks, or cut off people’s heads. This time there has been none of that. 4

National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)
Spokesman J.T. Richardson amidst carnage in Monrovia
April, 1996

Right temporarily denied is stronger than evil triumphant. 5

Dr. Martin Luther King

I. Introduction

Liberia is important in its own right—human beings live and die there. In the immortal words of Primo Levi, as he struggled to make some moral sense out of Auschwitz, “We are in fact convinced that no human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis, and that fundamental values, even if they are not positive, can be deduced from this particular...

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pp. 265-307
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