Leaders often give the world new terms. From Lincoln we got "Lincolnesque." "Victorian" comes from Queen Victoria. And Slobodan Milosevic the despot who bathed his nation in its own blood gave humanity the term "ethnic cleansing."
It's a term that can never be fully washed from the minds of Eastern Europeans or the world.
It's a term that defines his reign. Milosevic has died. His vocabulary lives on.
With "ethic cleansing," Milosevic created the ultimate in government double-speak. What he meant was genocide the wholesale slaughter of men, women and children of the "wrong" race. He built a regime that believed butchering others was akin to spring cleaning, the same as "airing out the attic."
If "ethnic cleansing" is not chiseled into his epitaph, someone should carve it there.
His bloodcurdling display of barbarity stands beside Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. The people who suffered under his rule must help the world remember.
Sadly, however, similar crimes against humanity are happening at this moment that may match the evil of Milosevic. But because these nations are oil-poor African countries and "non-strategic," the ethnic cleansing there is slowly fading from collective memory.
It may sound harsh, but the people of the civilized world who tend to always serve self-interest over common good must bear part of the sin for "ethnic cleansing" those crimes from their awareness. Those in Sudan, Somalia, Chad and other states are the victims of an "ethnic cleansing" built from indifference. Their sacrifices have gone unheralded, their suffering unattended and the ruthless leaders who murdered them remain unchallenged.
Perhaps years from now, the hand-wringing will begin. Perhaps people will wonder why the world stood by and did nothing.
That will be a grave moment. But it wouldn't be the worst possible outcome.
The worst would be if over time the cutthroats of Africa who carved up thousands of their own are allowed to slip off into the black night without comment. Such an "ethnic cleansing" of history texts would be the most heinous crime of all.