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genocide

rwandaGenocide (1943) is like homocide, but where homocide is the murder of one man (Latin, homo), genocide is the murder of a people (Latin, gens). Like what Hitler did to the Jews, what Americans did to the American Indians or what the Hutus did to the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

When Hitler killed the Jews it was not against international law. In fact the word “genocide” was not even in the dictionary! The crime is ancient but our idea of it is a creation of the 1940s.

The word “genocide” was coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin. He had gone to the League of Nations ten years before to try to get it outlawed, but they turned him down – even though they knew that the Turks had killed over a million Armenians in the First World War.

It did not become a part of international law, the law between nations, till 1950, five years after the fall of Hitler, and America did not agree to it as a part of international law till 1988!

As a part of international law the word has a very particular meaning:

Genocide means any of the following acts committed to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

genociderwanda11Killing soldiers is not genocide – that is just war. But killing women and children and old men – unarmed people – just to wipe them out because of their race, religion, country or culture – like Jews, Armenians and Tutsis – that is genocide.

Killing people in huge numbers to carry out a revolution or to put down a revolution does not count. So the 20 million killed under Stalin, the 20 million under Mao and the half million under Suharto do not count as genocide.

That is no accident: the word was invented by the winners of the Second World War, so Stalin had a hand in it.

Selected genocides from 1492 to 1945:

  • 1492-1518: Spain: Tainos: 3 million in the Caribbean.
  • 1607-1890: Britain/US: American Indians: ?
  • 1645-1754: Russia: Siberians: ?
  • 1755-1758: China: Zunghars: 600,000.
  • 1788-1901: Britain: Australian Aboriginals: 20,000?
  • 1817-1867: Russia: Circassians: 1.5 million.
  • 1826-1829: Britain: Tasmanians: 6,000.
  • 1870s: Argentina: Patagonians: > 1,300.
  • 1885-1908: Belgium: Congolese: 22 million.
  • 1904-1908: Germany:  Hereros and Nama in Namibia: 70,000.
  • 1915-1918: Ottoman Empire: Greeks, Assyrians, Armenians: 3.15 million.
  • 1919-1920: Russia: Cossacks: 500,000.
  • 1933-1945: Germany and Eastern Europe: Jews, Gypsies and Slavs: 11 million.
  • 1937-1938: Japan: Chinese: 300,000 at Nanjing.
  • 1941-1945: Yugoslavia: Serbs: 650,000.
  • 1943-1944: Ukraine: Poles: 200,000.

All the genocides since 1945 that have killed at least 100,000 people:

  • 1945-1974: Ethiopia: Oromo, Eritreans, Somali: 150,000.
  • 1947: India: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs: 100,000s.
  • 1961-2003: Iraq: Kurds, Shiites, Kuwaitis: 190,000.
  • 1962-1986: Guatemala: Mayans, 200,000.
  • 1962-2007: Burma: Shan, Karen: 100,000.
  • 1967-1970: Nigeria: Igbos: 3 million.
  • 1972: Burundi: Hutus, 100,000.
  • 1974-1999: Indonesia: East Timorese: 200,000.
  • 1983-2005: Sudan: Nuer, Dinka, Christians, Nuba, etc: 1.9 million.
  • 1992-1995: Bosnia: Muslims: 200,000 – Srebrenica.
  • 1994: Rwanda: Tutsis: 800,000.
  • 1994-2000: Ethiopia: Oromo, etc: 100,000.
  • 2003-2010: Sudan: Darfuris: 400,000.

The eight stages of genocide:

  1. Classification: the division into “us and them”;
  2. Symbolization: applying symbols to the them to mark them out as pariahs, objects of hate;
  3. Dehumanization: seeing the pariahs as not truly human.
  4. Organization: training and arming;
  5. Polarization: silencing the voices in the middle that still stand up for the pariahs;
  6. Preparation: separating the pariahs from everyone else;
  7. Extermination: killing them;
  8. Denial: lying about it.

Source: Genocide Watch (2009), Wikipedia (2014). 

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coalblackapple.jpg

“Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” (1943) is an American cartoon, Warner Brothers’ answer to Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937). It is seven-minute long comedy set to jazz music and has an all-black cast.

Some say it is one of the best cartoons ever made, yet Cartoon Network, which owns the rights, never shows it. It was pulled from American television in 1968 and became one of the “Censored 11” – cartoons that are so thoroughly racist that editing out a racist joke here or a blackface character there could not save them.

While it is clear that it is well made and that you are supposed to be laughing your head off, it keeps hitting you over the head with image after image of blacks as being little better than monkey men, as creatures with huge lips and big eyes.

The only character who looks like a black person in a cartoon and not some creature is So White, the main character (called Coal Black in the title to avoid trouble with Disney). But even she is a stereotype: she shows way more flesh than Snow White, a sort of early video vixen.

The evil queen is a big, ugly black woman who sounds like a man.

Prince Chawmin wears a zoot suit, drives a big car and has gold teeth.

The cartoon was directed by Bob Clampett, who gave the world Porky Pig, Tweety Bird and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent. He was white. He loved jazz and got the idea for doing a black cartoon set to jazz from talking to Duke Ellington two years before.

Clampett took great pains to make the cartoon as true to black life as possible:

  • He went with his men to Club Alabam in Los Angeles to get a feel for black music and dance.
  • Clampett hired as many black musicians as the company would allow.
  • He used only black voice actors, like Dorothy Dandridge’s sister, Vivian (she plays So White).

Herb Jeffries, one of the black musicians, was proud of the cartoon. In fact, for its time it was one of the better cartoons featuring blacks!

Yet except for So White, all the black characters are drawn in blackface. Since when do black people have big white lips? But for over a hundred years whites had been watching blackface entertainers – white men with black faces who “acted black” to get laughs. It became how whites saw blacks. So much so that Clampett could not see the difference between black and blackface (neither could Mark Twain).

Even in the 1970s and 1980s Clampett still defended the cartoon:

 There was nothing racist or disrespectful toward blacks intended in that film at all… Everybody, including blacks had a good time when these cartoons first came out. All the controversy … has developed in later years merely because of changing attitudes toward black civil rights that have happened since then.

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