Some genocides are more equal than others

Apr 19, 2024 by

By Steven Tucker, Mercator.

Thirty years after the tragic 1994 mass killings in Rwanda, when mobs of ethnic majority Hutus slaughtered between 500,000 and 800,000 ethnic minority Tutsis with machetes, the idea of genocide is once again in the air – but not in the way you might expect.

Contemporary ideas of what constitutes genocide, or incitement to genocide, are becoming increasingly vague and subjective. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are keen to lay this accusation at Israel’s feet for defending itself in the face of Hamas’s pogrom on October 7 last year, whilst denying that Hamas holds any genocidal aspirations of its own – despite its Founding Charter calling for the annihilation of Israel.

Other people, of a Black Lives Matter persuasion, honestly think there is a kind of “genocide by cop” going on across the United States right now, in which innocent black criminals (not a paradox, for BLM) are being gunned down en masse by evil white policemen, an idea in no sense backed up by any actual data. Even mixed-race tennis player Naomi Osaka has given voice to this paranoid theory when she pulled out of a tournament to protest “continued genocide of Black people at the hands of police”.

The genesis of genocide

To be fair, the very word “genocide” is itself a relatively new concept. Go back a hundred years and try using the word, and nobody would know what you were talking about, even though appalling mass murders of entire ethnic or religious sub-groups had obviously taken place many times before. The Armenian Massacre was the first genocide of the 20th century – a million people died.

2024 marks the 80th anniversary of the coining of the term “genocide” by the Polish-born Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, in his 1944 text Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, in the chapter “Genocide – A New Term and New Conception for Destruction of Nations”.

Read here.

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