Rick Ginsburg looked down at his notepad. There were a few scribbles there to test his pen, and the beginning of a poem, but to him, the page was as good as new. "Let the debate begin," Mr. Cawdor said, and Rick barely had the time to write down the topic: Ethnic Cleansing. Steven Weismuller went first. Steven was a guy Rick could admire; he was an eloquent speaker and an intelligent researcher, and he was able to argue at the drop of the hat. Sure, it was called debating, but arguing with rules was what it all came down to.
"Now, everyone is already conditioned to believe that ethnic cleansing is evil and bad. But for a moment, let us think about things. Firstly, there can be many different ways this can be taken.
"Ethnic cleansing does not have to mean killing. Quite often this is done without the brutality associated with the act; the stronger force moves in and simply removes the undesired element. When faced with such overwhelming odds, it is likely that the ethnic group will simply move on."
Steven paused to shuffle his notes about. "Secondly, sometimes ethnic cleansing is a good, desirable thing. There are times when another ethnic group will cause too much chaos and disruption in the social system. It is often easier to relocate the group to a place unoccupied.
"Think on it a moment. How would you feel if someone who was from a completely culture than yours conquered you, and then forced you to adapt to their foreign ways? How would you feel? Wouldn't you rather just go to a new place with your beliefs and identity intact? We did just that with the Indians, and they still live on the reservations."
He smiled at Mr. Cawdor. "That is all."
The old debate coach nodded and as Rick wrote down the last few bits of Steven's speech, Dana Sloan started up with the con side of the argument.
"Listen to these words... undesired element. Removal. Relocate. This sounds very nice on paper, doesn't it? But that's not how things really are. Just take a look at a newspaper, and you can see the effects of ethinc cleansing going on right now in Kosovo. Think back on what is considered the greatest tragedy of World War Two, the Holocaust."
Dana opened her history book to a picture of a man who was emaciated beyond what should have been humanly possible. The picture next to it showed a pile of bodies in a mass grave, piled up high like cordwood.
"These are just a few of the gruesome pictures of that dark time. If you want to see the effects of ethnic cleansing, this is what it is, and it is horrible."
She turned to Mr. Cawdor. Her pert blond ponytail bobbed as she said, "I rest my case."
Rick's heart clenched the tiniest bit. He had fallen for Dana long ago, and she was the whole reason he was even on the debate team. That, and the fact that they always took awesome field trips.
"Mr. Weismuller, any reply?"
Steven looked up from his book. "Just a moment, sir."
Rick glanced over at the rest of the students in the debate class. Most were busy writing on their pads.
"Mr. Weismuller, we need your argument now."
Steven closed his book. "Sir, I'm afraid I can't give another. I am finished."
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