Genocide: The Ultimate Form of Discrimination
Hitler sought to carry out the “final solution to what he called the “Jewish question” through the complete extermination of all the Jews in Europe. [Charney, 1982; Kuper, 1982], Jews were herded into cattle cars, transported to concentration camps, and systematically gassed. By the end of World War II in 1945,
most of the Jews in Europe had been killed in this cold-blooded manner [Reitlinger, 1968, p. 546). This is known as the “Holocaust”
(literally, a burnt sacrificial offering), since so many people had been slaughtered on the altar of group hatred. The term genocide (gellos . is the Greek word for race) means the deliberate attempt to exterminate a group, even as homicide refers to the killing of an individual. In 1951 the United Nations adopted an agreement to outlaw genocide which, at the time of tlns writing, still had not been ratified by the . United States. The United States shares in the moral condemnation of genocide but may fear that ratifying the agreement would authorize the United Nations to intervene in American ethnic controversies. Genocide has been attempted many times in world history [Horowitz, 1980). The ancient Hebrews sought to exterminate the Canaanites, American colonists massacred the Indians, and perhaps half the Armenians died at the ends of the Turks in 1915 [Dadrian, 1971,’ 1975]. Hindus and Muslims slaughtered each other in India after World War II [Cousins, 1954), and tribal groups in Paraguay and Burundi have been slaughtered within the past two decades [Melady, 1974;Arens, 1976). Uganda eliminated its Indian population by expelling them from the country [Kuepper et aI., 1975].
Sometimes the approximate equivalent of genocide results from ruthlessly following policies which have the effect of destroying
a people. Invading armies have often seized a country’s food supply, leaving the civilian population to starve; mass deportations are usually accompanied by wholesale deaths from hunger, exposure, illness, and despair; one-sixth of the Cambodian population died in 1975 when the Cambodian Communists drove the entire urban population into the countryside with no provision for their care. [Cherrne, 1975]; the “development” of forest lands in Brazil dooms most of the forest tribes to extinction [Hawrylyshyn, 1976]. Believers in automatic progress should be reminded that deaths from genocide in the twentieth century probably exceed those in all earlier centuries in the world’s history.