I backpacked through Hama, Syria, in 1982 after the massacres there. The old city in front was just rubble, but a tourist office remained.
“What happened?” I asked, pointing to the 50 acres of rubble. “I don’t see anything,” the man said. “Nothing happened.”
(Hama, north of Damascus, was the site of a government massacre of Islamist opponents to the Ba’ath regime. Since all information was suppressed, there are only estimates of the numbers of dead, ranging from 10,000 to nearly 40,000. Either way, it was one of the largest assaults by an Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East. Chemical weapons were reportedly used, and the city center then razed. For more on the Hama massacre, see Robert Fisk’s Pity the Nation.)