Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.
I watched Hotel Rwanda and a couple of other Netflix Rwanda movies lately and it got me trying to do some heavy thinking about genocide. I did a websearch on 20th Century genocides, and while there’s a middling sufficient list, a lot happened that were just too small to mention because they were overshadowed by the bigger ones. Kurds, for example. And Ebo tribesmen. Various Amazonian tribes. Et al.
Here’s one list I found, and I’m using it because it provides the overall picture without getting too lengthy.
The term ‘Genocide’ was coined by Polish writer and attorney, Raphael Lemkin, in 1941 by combining the Greek word ‘genos’ (race) with the Latin word ‘cide’ (killing). Genocide as defined by the United Nations in 1948 means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including: (a) killing members of the group (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Recent to Past Occurrences
Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 – 200,000 Deaths
Rwanda: 1994 – 800,000 Deaths
Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 – 2,000,000 Deaths
Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 – 6,000,000 Deaths
Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 – 300,000 Deaths
Stalin’s Forced Famine: 1932-1933 – 7,000,000 Deaths
Armenians in Turkey: 1915-1918 – 1,500,000 Deaths
Sooooo. You might be wondering by now what’s funny about genocide. Well, first off, funny might be a poor choice of words. Strange would be better, if the phenomenon were strange, but it isn’t. In fact it’s almost as un-strange as war. Happens so damned frequently it doesn’t even qualify as an anomaly.
A lot of chest-pounding and hand wringing by the outside world tends to happen when genocides occur, a lot of after-the-fact guilt by peoples who didn’t do anything to interfere with it when they could have. Nations sitting by, fully capable of stopping it, and deliberately not doing so.
You’ve got to admit there’s something funny about that.
Question: Who didn’t do anything to stop that Turkish killing, for instance, of Armenians?
Answer: Everyone on the planet.
Question: Who didn’t raise a lot of dickens about Stalin’s famine?
Answer: Surviving Armenians and everyone else.
Question: Who didn’t do anything about the Rape of Nanking?
Answer: Well, lessee. There’s the Armenians, the Russians, and everyone else.
Question: Who didn’t do anything about Hitler’s holocaust [accepting the fact all the disclaimers about not knowing are unadulterated BS]?
Answer: Well, there’s the Armenians, the Russians, the Chinese, and everyone else.
Now it becomes peculiar. Or more peculiar. Inscrutable.
Question: Who didn’t do anything about Cambodia?
Answer: Well, there’s those Armenians, the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis and worldwide Jewish communities. And everyone else. Same as before but now with a Jewish component.
Question: Who didn’t do anything to stop the genocides and atrocities in Rwanda?
Answer: You guessed it. The French supplied them with weaponry so’s they wouldn’t have to use machetes, but otherwise it was the usual suspects. The Armenians, the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis and the international Jewish community, the Cambodians, and, of course, everyone else.
So we’re left with only one conclusion: human beings, despite all their sweetness and light protests, are only mildly opposed to genocide unless it’s happening to some group they, personally belong to. And frequently they’re wildly enthusiastic about it when it happens to someone they see as an enemy of their group.
Not all that different from war, and one hell of a lot more efficient.
Something worth thinking about when you begin hearing the next genocide’s gearing up. Listen to what the Armenians, the Russians, the Cambodians, the Jews and Israelis, and the Rwandans are saying. And watch what they do to intervene.
Afterthought: There’s a bit of indignation these days about ‘Holocaust Deniers’. People who say they believe Hitler didn’t kill as many Jews, Gypsies and whatnot, as other people calculate he did. But nobody much denies what happened in Rwanda, Cambodia, all over the place. Maybe because nobody much feels guilty about it.
There was a serial killer named Henry Lucas housed in the Williamson County Jail in Georgetown, TX, when I worked in the building next door. I used to see them taking him out looking for buried bodies, or returning. Henry had a partner named Otis Toole, who was in prison in Florida. The authorities arranged for a reunion between them so’s they could remind one another where they left bodies, who they’d killed and forgotten to mention.
I watched a Williamson County Sheriff’s Department video of when Otis and Henry met in Florida. Henry had murdered Otis’ sister, or Otis had murdered Henry’s. The one who did it said tearfully to the other, “I’m so sorry about your sister.”
“It’s okay, Henry [or Otis]. Her time had just come.”
Seems to me Henry Lucas and Otis Toole captured something qualifying as a deeper human character truth in that exchange. J