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Two stories at CNN this morning make it clear that we have a real problem defining genocide in our world today, and that the word itself has become little more than a political tool -- a shameful legacy that demeans the millions of victims that died at the hands of true genocidal maniacs.
First off, Mexico wants to prosecute its former president for genocide stemming from a single incident, where troops shot and killed eleven student protestors:
A special prosecutor has requested the arrest of former President Luis Echeverria and other senior officials accused of genocide for allegedly ordering the killing of student demonstrators in 1971, Echeverria's attorney said Friday. ...
In the June 10, 1971, attack a government-organized group attacked student protesters and 11 people died.
I am not minimizing the mass murder of eleven students, but unless the eleven were a significant percentage of an ethnic enclave or religious sect, then it's not genocide. Genocide is the mass murder of a significant amount of people of an ethnicity or religious affiliation in the cause of annihilation. By the Mexico standard, John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy were genocidal. It's a laughable assertion and amounts to wild overreaching. And it's worth noting that the Mexican government opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein, who was busy trying to oppress the Shi'ites, murder all the Kurds he could find -- 5,000 gassed in Halabja alone -- and draining the central marshes to dislocate and disband the Marsh Arab society.
On the other hand, some people tend to be too slow to use the term genocide, especially when its use would require them to take action in defense of thousands of human lives:
Sudan's foreign minister has rejected a U.S. Congressional declaration that bloodletting in the country's western region of Darfur amounts to genocide. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail insisted his government was doing all it can to end the conflict in Darfur which so far has killed 30,000 people and forced a million to flee. ...
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said last month he was not ready to describe the situation in Darfur "as genocide or ethnic cleansing" but he did call it "a tragic humanitarian situation" and raised the possibility of international intervention.
Arab militias have killed up to 30,000 people in Darfur, most of them black Africans, and driven over one million from their homes since the conflict began last year.
By any standard of the word, what is happening in Darfur is most certainly a genocide, and we should insist that the UN start applying that term. However, again, the Congressional Black Caucus seemed highly antagonistic in applying the term to the situation in Iraq, when Kurds and Arabs were the victims. Where were their protests in front of Iraqi delegations to the UN (Iraq had no embassy in the US)? I only recall their protests on behalf of a genocidal tyrant, insisting that we had no business removing Saddam, as he was no danger to the US. Well, neither are the Sudanese, and using the same criteria, even less so. They aren't gathering billions of dollars by a UN-approved and administered kickback scheme, and they weren't actively pursuing chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. And Saddam killed a lot more people in his genocidal ambitions.
I suppose it's too much to ask for consistency, but it makes me awfully cynical about the CBC and their concern for humanity.Sphere It View blog reactions
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