• President Obama Quote

    And just as we identify with the victims, it's also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves. -President Obama after his speech Buchenwald concentration camp

Third section of the essay

This section is not in order of the other two and is going to be inserted in another area to be determined.

One aspect of genocidal acts is connecting the victims of the Holocaust and the victims of Rwanda. One part of that is the historical context for which the victims can be placed. William Miles discusses the idea that both the Jews and Tutsis were viewed by themselves and others as the chosen people (Miles p. 107-109). This idea comes from the stories of Genesis and the terms of labeling in this region came from Noah’s sons. While all may not accept this, the idea brings about a valid point that historically these two groups of people were seen as similar and having a chosen ancestry. Miles goes further to say “in the 19th century Jewish attributes were ascribed to Tutsis, thanks to a purported historical linkage dating back to ancient migrations” (Miles p. 110). These two groups were supposed to be the intelligent among lesser people and that continued difference supported the hatred that festered within the others who were not such intelligent civilized people. The Jews and the Tutsis were almost like a ruling class. That is not to say, however that the two acts of genocide were completely alike. In reality, the fact that the ideologies and way the acts were committed shed light on the idea that genocide can happen with completely different circumstances.

One major idea to dissect is that all genocides are the same. Actually, most genocidal acts have completely different contexts with relatively similar ends. Rene Lemarchand concluded that “to treat Rwanda as the carbon copy of the Holocaust is likely to obscure its historical specificity and regional context” (Lemarchand p. 499). This idea can also be associated with Native America and the genocide that happened in the nineteenth century. Each act of genocide committed by very different “extremely violent societies”, needs to be viewed by those contexts. What that can do is prove that there are in fact multiple definitions for what happens under the term genocide. While the Holocaust is seen as the definition of the word, it is merely a reference point to show that there are in fact multiple examples. Yehuda Bauer portrays the factors that drove the Holocaust as “Nazi racial anti-Semitic ideology” and Lemarchand views the genocide in Rwanda stemming from “fear and hatred—both contributing” (Lemarchand p. 507). While both examples had ideology, fear and hatred involved, each had a more dominant tone working towards the goal. What these differences can provide are “important clues to an understanding of the element of rationality underlying the motivation to kill” (Lemarchand p. 509). Once an understanding of the specific instance is found, the correlations can be generated and the understanding of the term can be enhanced. When looking at Native America, the specific understanding is needed in order to understand the term genocide as an evolving term. The idea that genocides have explicit differences proves that there cannot be one definition. There must be many.

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2 Responses

  1. This is really interesting. Understanding that genocide is not a definite term but one that needs further definition based on the type of event really helps me to understand how you will be linking/comparing these very different events (though they have a similar theme). I am looking forward to your presentation.

  2. That’s so crazy that the Tutsis are also “chosen” people. What religion do they practice? Or is their relation to the jews due to their ancestry? Your draft is very well written, Chris. Keep it up!

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