Thursday, January 27, 2005

A genocide by any other name would still stink up the street.

The Daou Report pointed me to "Defining Genocide" at The Fourth Rail.

The article's beef seems to be with Ted Turner's remarks comparing [the popularity of] FOX News to [the popularity of] Hitler, but all I have to say about that is:
  1. I guess Godwin's Law holds.
  2. FOX's official response ("Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind") sounds a lot like "Oh yeah? Well, Ted's a loser! So there! Ha!"
The excerpt at the Daou Report was this:
It is precisely upon this point that we need agreement in the international community: at what point does mass execution rise to the level of genocide? How many bodies must be disposed of in mass graves to rise to the level of international intervention?
There is an international definition of "genocide" which does not require mass graves at all to be satisfied. As with torture, I'm dumbfounded that this question comes up. To me it sounds as if these people intend to say that there is no definition for these atrocities, so there's no grounds for describing anything that way (least of all, America's actions). It's ludicrous.

The article goes on to minimize what happened at Abu Ghraib:
Abu Ghraib has some public humiliation and Gitmo has some possible stress interogations. But let's see... No showers. No open pits and close range executions.
Actually, according to this, at least one prisoner was taken to the showers and beaten to death. According to this, one of the tortures was, "sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick." This is not merely "some public humiliation." We're not talking about a fraternity hazing ritual here.

The article talks a lot about France and Germany also, in the context of World War II. It reminds me of "The Red and Blue Book narratives" which discusses the different "narratives" that shape Americans' views of events. It's highly worth reading the whole post, but this is the summary:
The Blue Book worries about America becoming Germany. The Red Book worries about America becoming France.
The question on my mind is whether there's yet another answer. I think the Bush administration framed the Iraq situation as "bomb or be bombed," and that frame persists to this day in both narratives. I can't imagine why anyone would want to defend torture or genocide, but I think it's meaningful that the arguments I hear from them most often are, "what we did wasn't really torture" and "our torture wasn't nearly as bad as..."
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