Using The Term 'Genocide' For Civil War

Annie

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This made me think, many of us have naturally slipped into the use of this word to describe the slaughter of civilians, by armed tribes of their neighbors. But it's not the same thing, as killing a group for religious beliefs or ideological beliefs. It may well be mass murder, but not genocide.

The idea that it may have to do with prejudice on the West's part? Could be, though I'm not so certain that it isn't just a misuse of a word?

http://www.brendanoneill.net/PimpMyGenocide.htm

...

The opportunistic transformation of 'genocide' into a weapon on the international stage can be seen most clearly in recent debates about Turkey. The Turkish state's genocide against the Armenians in the First World War is surely debated more today than at any other time in history. That is because the Armenian genocide has been latched on to by certain governments that want to lecture and harangue the current Turkish regime.

Last year France passed its bizarre law outlawing denial of the Armenian genocide. This was a deeply cynical move motivated by EU protectionism on the part of the French. France is keen to keep Turkey at arm's length from joining the EU, viewing the American ally in the East as a threat to its authoritative position within Europe. And what better way to cast doubts on Turkey's fitness to join the apparently modern EU than to turn its refusal to accept that the massacre of Armenians 90 years ago was a genocide into a big political issue? At the same time, Democrat members of US Congress are attempting to dent the Bush administration's prestige and standing in the Middle East by lending their support to a resolution that will label the Turkish killings of Armenians a genocide. This has forced Bush to defend the 'deniers' of Turkey, and given rise to the bizarre spectacle of a six-person Turkish parliamentary delegation arriving in Washington to try to convince members of Congress that the Armenian massacres were not a genocide (7). Again, movers and shakers play politics with genocide, using the G-word to try to hit their opponents where it hurts.

At a time when the West making claims to global moral authority on the basis of enlightenment or democracy has become distinctly unfashionable, the new fashion for genocide-mongering seems to have turned 'genocide' into the one remaining moral absolute, which has allowed today's pretty visionless West to assert at least some authority over the Third World.
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Annie

Annie

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More on the same topic, but reviewing a film:

http://www.brendanloy.com/wp/2007/03/on-genocide-and-hypocrisy.html

On genocide and hypocrisy
Posted by Brendan Loy on Friday, March 2, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Becky and I just got back from the DeBartolo, where we watched a screening of the documentary Screamers, part of Notre Dame’s spring film series of movies about genocide. And I must say, as movies about genocide go, Screamers is an odd one. It’s about 50 percent historical documentary about the Armenian genocide, 30 percent concert tour DVD for System of a Down, and 20 percent a mish-mash of other elements, including endless interviews with Harvard professor Samantha Power, who is apparently academia’s one and only expert on genocide.

[UPDATE: Here’s Becky’s review of the film. It’s kind of funny how we make a lot of the same points, though we didn’t talk about our respective reviews until both were finished — although we were sitting on the couch next to each other, writing them simultaneously. Heh. We’re such freaking nerds.]

The movie’s oddest moment occurred during one of the “concert tour DVD” segments. System of a Down (”SOAD” to the cool kids) is a metal band comprised of four grandchildren of Armenian genocide survivors, and they make it a point to educate their legions of fans about the oft-denied atrocity that killed off most of their ancestors. So, in the movie, we see them at one of their concerts, standing silently on stage while a mini-documentary about the genocide is played for concertgoers on a giant screen. In the background, we hear the typical sort of noises that you’d expect at a rock concert, including quite a bit of hooting and cheering, which is strange enough when it happens while a narrator is talking about the mass extermination of millions of people. But then came the strangest moment of all, when the face of one of the Turkish leaders who orchestrated the genocide appears on the screen. The crowd starts vigorously booing him, as if he’s some sports idol they don’t like. More than anything else, it reminded me of how the crowds at ESPN GameDay react when someone from the opposing team is shown on the screen. Yet here, the crowd was reacting not to a hated coach or quarterback, but to the architect of a crime against humanity. I suppose booing is better than cheering, but the reaction still seemed grossly inappropriate somehow. A negative reaction is of course appropriate, but they’re reacting to something so much weightier and more profound than a simple “boo” can possibly hope to express. It was just weird.

As for the substance of the movie… it had its moments, made some valid points, and of course the basic bottom-line message — that genocide is very bad, and that people who say “never again” but then let it happen again are hypocrites — is pretty much impossible to argue against. That said, I was struck by the naivete and, well, hypocrisy, actually, of many of the true believers. One bloke waiting in line for a SOAD concert in London said he likes the band because they’re “anti-Bush and anti-Blair,” like him. He asserted that this position is obviously correct because (this may not be a direct quote, but it’s close) “I’m anti-war in principle, and that’s something you can’t really argue against.” To which I could only think: “Oh, really? So I guess, since you’re ‘anti-war in principle,’ you would have been opposed to World War II as well? You know, the war that finally — far too late, of course — ended the Holocaust? Yeah, can’t really argue against that!”...

...My point is simply this: there is an awful lot of hypocrisy on both sides, and nothing will improve until both hypocrisies — the hypocrisy of the powers-that-be who use genocide as an argument when it suits their geopolitical interests but ignore it otherwise, and the hypocrisy of the anti-war folks who demand muscular action to prevent genocide until such action actually happens, then condemn it as imperialist warmongering and/or glorified penis-size contests — are relegated to the dustbin of intellectual history.

On the ride home from the movie, Becky made an excellent point: we only know about genocides that actually happened, not ones that might have happened if some pre-emptive action hadn’t been taken to prevent them. So, for example, we’ll never know if Saddam Hussein, had he been allowed to remain in power in 2003 because “sanctions were working,” would have gassed the Kurds (again) or the Shiites in, say, 2009. Likewise, if Bush’s “surge” is successful and Iraq ultimately becomes a stable democracy, we’ll never know whether the Shiites would have massacred the Sunnis if John Murtha & co. had had their way in 2007. In other words, just as law-enforcement and intelligence officials get no credit for actions disrupting terrorist plots that we don’t know about, world leaders get no credit for actions which prevented genocides that would otherwise have occurred. On the contrary, they get endless grief for everything that goes wrong in their policies, and if, heaven forbid, those policies have unintended consequences that lead to genocide or civil war, they get the blame. Which isn’t necessarily wrong, but I think it’s important to remember that we only know the consequences of the actions we’ve taken, not the ones we didn’t take. This is especially important for pacifists and psuedo-pacifists like System of a Down and its adoring legion of follwers to keep in mind. Such people are quick to remind us that “war is hell,” and it surely is. But sometimes, “peace” is worse. Like, for example, when “peace” means ignoring the mantra “never again” and leaving a genocidal regime in power. Just something to keep in mind.

UPDATE: Becky makes the same point, and I think she articulates it better:

If the government intervenes before a human rights tragedy, or even after one, as in the case of Iraq when the US gov’t deposed Saddam, no credit is given for removing a brutal tyrant from power. Rather, fingers are pointed, the band rages about how the US is pissing on the world, screaming my c**k is bigger than your c**k… If past behavior is the most revealing indication of future behavior, then Saddam was likely to commit another hideous genocide against his own people. Therefore, the US military intervention in Iraq may have prevented future genocide. But “may have” isn’t really good enough. It’s a Catch-22. You want to intervene before there’s a genuine humanitarian crisis, but in the absense of such a crisis (or sometimes, even in its presence), intervention is seen as imperialism, or any humanitarian benefits from military action are considered unintentional byproducts of an unnecessary war.​
 

William Joyce

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Armenians didn't suffer a genocide because Jews have the sole and exclusive right to that claim. That's pretty much all anyone needs to know.
 
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Annie

Annie

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Armenians didn't suffer a genocide because Jews have the sole and exclusive right to that claim. That's pretty much all anyone needs to know.
That wasn't the point and I know your reading comprehension is above 10th grade.

BTW, how is the baby girl, you standing on your head for her yet. ;)
 

William Joyce

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Looking less like an alien and more like a person. She's the new background on my computer at work!
 
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Annie

Annie

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Looking less like an alien and more like a person. She's the new background on my computer at work!
Yeah, alien. LOL! I bet her mews bring you running! You must realize you are dead when she says, "Da". :bowdown: :bowdown:
 

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