Lecture Week 15

Lecture Week 15 - Why to Bother? On Tuesday you have seen...

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Why to Bother? On Tuesday you have seen the film about the genocide in Rwanda. Genocide is extermination, or attempt to exterminate an ethnic group or a people as a whole: man, women, elders, children – everybody who belongs to a given group. It is a negative by-product of some processes connected with modernity, namely with nationalism and nation-state building. Genocide is one of the main causes of death and suffering in the last hundred years and, unfortunately, in this regard there is no light at the end of the tunnel in the beginning of this century. Those who perpetrate genocides are inspired by extreme racist and nationalist ideologies and practices. But genocides are possible only because of the indifference of the world at large and of corresponding governments and international bodies. It is indifference to incitement and inaction by the outside world that make genocide possible. Denial of previous genocides is another factor contributing to future genocides. The first genocide of the modern era took place in Turkey in the years 1915-1921. About 1,5 million of Armenians there were exterminated just because they spoke a different language, had different historical memory, and professed a different religion. It was the first but not the last genocide of the 20 th century. During that tragedy the American ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgentau supported by six American consuls located in different parts of the country sent numerous telegrams to Washington literally begging the government of Woodrow Wilson to intervene, or at least to condemn the Turkish government. But his plea was ignored, and the ambassador was considered as a pain in the neck by the State Department. The Turkish government still denies that the genocide ever took place in their country, and those
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courageous and noble Turks who want to admit the truth are facing criminal charges. By the way, Turkey remains our close ally. As is often the case, political expedience takes an upper hand over justice. No wonder, that Hitler had learned the historical lesson very well. When he was warned against initiating the Holocaust he replied: “Don’t worry. Who remembers and cares for what happened to Armenians. The same will be with the Jews”. After the Second World War, the horrified world declared “never again”. All kinds of good declarations were adopted to condemn and to prevent the possibility of future genocides. However, sympathy unsupported by action is the worst kind of hypocrisy. And there is still a great deficit of action. The genocide in Bosnia was stopped only because the country is located in Europe, and the European governments were afraid of the flood of refugees to their countries. They did not do much themselves, but, at least, they insisted that the Americans should intervene. The Europeans are always our good allies when they need the Americans. The things, however, were different in Rwanda where in less than two weeks 800
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course ANTHRO 104 taught by Professor Bowie during the Fall '08 term at Wisconsin.

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Lecture Week 15 - Why to Bother? On Tuesday you have seen...

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