Here are the common ways of to deny a genocide:
- “Don’t rock the boat” – Or the peace talks might break down. Or contracts for oil or arms might be cancelled. Or you will look weak if you call it genocide and do nothing. Just go with flow.
- “We are helping these people!” – and show outsiders model camps. Like how the Nazis showed the Red Cross Theresienstadt but not Auschwitz or Dachau. See how nice we are!
- Make it about the numbers – if they say 50,000 were killed, you say it was 5,000. Get into that dispute.
- Make it about words – Oh, it is just “ethnic cleansing”. Oh, it is not about race but land rights and that is not genocide. And so on. Overlooking the fact that if people only of a particular race are dying then it is about race no matter what anyone says or wants to believe. Because that kind of thing is not an “accident”.
- Make it about the accusers – question their motives. Overlooking the fact that they are telling the truth.
- Blame history – say this kind of stuff goes on all the time. Overlooking the fact that genocide is rare, despite what racists like to believe.
- Blame bad luck – blame it on disease, lack of food, lack of Western aid, etc. Overlooking the fact, say, that these people were driven off their land or moved to a place that cannot support their numbers. A trick favoured by Sudan and America.
- Blame out-of-control forces – after all genocides are often started by paramilitary forces that seem to be acting on their own. Overlooking the fact that many of these same forces are secretly supported by the government. If the government is not seriously fighting the force in question, it is receiving its blessing.
- Blame the victim – say the victims started a civil war. Overlooking the fact that there is no military reason for the mass killing of women and children.
- Dehumanize the victim – “They’re Africans. They do these sorts of things to each other.” They are not like us. Their lives do not matter. Why do you care? Overlooking the fact that everyone’s life matters, not just those who are like us or live nearby.
- Peace matters more than justice – Let us forget the past and just move on to give peace a chance. Overlooking the fact that a lasting peace can only be built on justice, otherwise there could be another round of genocide.
Genocide is rare. It is not “natural” - except to a racist. Tens of thousands of women and children of a particular race, religion or ethnicity do not just up and die by “accident”, not even in war. It is done on purpose, thought out in advance by sick minds. Who tell themselves these lies.
- Genocide Watch: 12 Ways to Deny a Genocide – with examples from Darfur. I based my post on their list but I changed up things a bit for pedagogical purposes.
- The eight stages of genocide - see what the other seven stages are
- How to argue like a white racist – I see genocide as an extreme form of racism. Genocide denial reminds me of the sort of things racists say – like blame-shifting, dehumanizing and blaming the victim and drawing attention away from their own actions.
- racism is not natural