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View Diary: Christopher Columbus & His Crimes Against Humanity (85 comments)

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  •  Then you can (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mollyd, shaharazade

    go through the 8 Stages of Genocide to prove your point, starting with intent.

    She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

    by Winter Rabbit on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 02:03:46 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sure you imagine (0+ / 0-)

      your comment makes sense. Is that like a 12-step program?

      •  No (4+ / 0-)

        1. CLASSIFICATION:  All cultures have categories to distinguish people into "us and them" by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.
        1. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people "Jews" or "Gypsies", or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980’s, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews.
        1. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their foreign finances frozen. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.
        1. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings. To combat this stage, membership in these militias should be outlawed. Their leaders should be denied visas for foreign travel. The U.N. should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate violations, as was done in post-genocide Rwanda.
        1. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide, so are the first to be arrested and killed. Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas for international travel denied to them. Coups d’état by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions.
        1. PREPARATION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. If the political will of the great powers, regional alliances, or the U.N. Security Council can be mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy assistance provided to the victim group to prepare for its self-defense. Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N. and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees to come.
        1. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called "genocide." It is "extermination" to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established with heavily armed international protection. (An unsafe "safe" area is worse than none at all.) The U.N. Standing High Readiness Brigade, EU Rapid Response Force, or regional forces -- should be authorized to act by the U.N. Security Council if the genocide is small. For larger interventions, a multilateral force authorized by the U.N. should intervene. If the U.N. is paralyzed, regional alliances must act. It is time to recognize that the international responsibility to protect transcends the narrow interests of individual nation states. If strong nations will not provide troops to intervene directly, they should provide the airlift, equipment, and financial means necessary for regional states to intervene.
        1. DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them. The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts. There the evidence can be heard, and the perpetrators punished. Tribunals like the Yugoslav or Rwanda Tribunals, or an international tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or an International Criminal Court may not deter the worst genocidal killers. But with the political will to arrest and prosecute them, some may be brought to justice.

        The 12 Steps   PDF   Print   E-mail

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           * Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
           * Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
           * Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
           * Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
           * Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
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           * Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

        So, you can use the former with good sources to say when an Indigenous People committed genocide? For you, I suggest step 10.

        She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

        by Winter Rabbit on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:40:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Marvelous (0+ / 0-)

          please forward a copy to the Aztecs of, say 1300, and ask them to cease their program of genocidal conquests. I feel certain they would have been receptive to your pleas. You might also ask for a spiritual awakening in re human sacrifices. Me, I'll just stand by my original post and opt for a uniform standard of judgment for both civilizations.

          •  This is a rather bold accusation: (0+ / 0-)

            ask them to cease their program of genocidal conquests

            Genocide is not a word to be tossed around as a hyperbolic adjective.  Not every military conquest is "genocidal" - in fact, very few are.  Genocide involves a lot more than a brutal conquest and/or occupation.

            If you claim genocide, you must supply justification for such a claim.  Here we've supplied you with the two most accepted definitions of genocide.  

            Please explain how the Aztecs engaged in genocide.

            The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

            by KroneckerD on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 05:07:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why quibble? (0+ / 0-)

              My recollection is that the Aztecs, along with other Imperialist entities of the Americas, wiped out enemy tribes. But if you object to the term genocide, is it OK if we simply refer to them as murderous, mass murderers, slaughterers of myriad captives, etc? Of course, on these grounds, I wonder if the characterization of Columbus as "genocidal" will also become problematic. After all, he would have happily brought those heathens to Christ, no? Is it his fault that things went awry?

              •  I do object to the term genocide. (1+ / 0-)
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                If you use this a definition of genocide:

                OK if we simply refer to them as murderous, mass murderers, slaughterers of myriad captives, etc?

                then probably 50% of human warfare would be considered genocide.

                Genocide is used to describe much more than a simple war of conquest - it is a concerted effort to eradicate an entire people from existence.  Your "recollection" that the Aztecs wiped out neighboring tribes is no grounds for a charge of genocide.  If you can provide proof that the Aztecs knowingly killed every man, woman, and child in a neighboring tribe, then you'll have the beginnings of an argument.

                As for this,

                After all, he would have happily brought those heathens to Christ, no? Is it his fault that things went awry?

                This betrays an ignorance about the subject that's common.  It's what we were taught in school.  The "upright Christian" Columbus, come to convert the savages to Christianity.  It's true that Columbus cited this as a reason for his initial journey to Queen Isabella of Spain.  That was not his true motivation for the journey though - the true goal was profit:

                   Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

                   But too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

                   The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

                   [Zinn, People's History of the US.  Chapter 1 ]

                In the less than 60 years from Columbus landing on Hispaniola in 1492, the native Arawak Indian population had been reduced from an initial population of 250,000 Indians to 500.  That's 99.8% of the native population killed in 60 years by the combination of enslavement, rape, mutilations, forced labor, disease, suicides, and armed massacres.  I guess things just "went awry".  Oops.  They were only savages anyway, right?

                It is rather telling that you are willing to accuse the Aztecs of genocide based on generic "recollections" of Aztec history, yet are uncomfortable with the accusation of genocide against Columbus and his men despite the surplus of specific evidence found in this diary.

                The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

                by KroneckerD on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 06:18:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not uncomfortable at all (0+ / 0-)

                  Columbus was not, by our standards, a good guy. My original interest in the discussion was to point out that those whom he made miserable would have thought nothing of doing the same to their own underlings. Slavery, and all its attendant horrors, was a commonplace for both Europeans and natives of the Americas.

                  Howard Zinn is about the last person I'd cite for anything like objective information, and this is a case in point. Because you (and Zinn) can't possibly reconcile Christianity and slavery, therefore religion can't possibly be Columbus' "true motivation," not even when confronted with his own words.

                  Let me introduce a shocking notion—many "good" Christians have done and still do horrific things in the name of their faith. As do many religionists. Their very sincere motivation in doing these things is often, precisely, their faith (cf. Spanish Inquisition).

                  •  Zinn wrote that passage, but he wasn't (0+ / 0-)

                    the source of that information.  The sources of that information are Columbus' own writings and those of Bartolomé de las Casas.

                    As for his religion, I ultimately don't care what his stated motivations were or those he carried deep in his heart - his actions and the consequences of those actions resulted in the wholesale destruction of an entire people, and he profited from it.

                    I don't care how sincere his faith may have been.  His faith meant nothing to the Arawak people that he systematically enslaved, exploited, and exterminated.

                    The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

                    by KroneckerD on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 06:59:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And my faith (0+ / 0-)

                      in the 1st Amendment meant nothing to my girlfriend's father, a survivor of a Nazi prison camp, when the American Nazis marched through Skokie, IL, protected by that amendment. That still doesn't make my motivations simply irrelevant because he didn't like the result. And I daresay that the faith in gods of the Aztecs meant little to the priests' victims on the altars. It's simply not necessary that for Columbus to be bad, his victims have to be innocents.

                      •  And there's your fully unveiled strawman. (0+ / 0-)

                        It's simply not necessary that for Columbus to be bad, his victims have to be innocents.

                        You're engaging in false equivalence here.  No one is claiming that the Indians were "innocents".  The Aztecs were warlike and practiced human sacrifice, but that's a far cry from depopulating half of a hemisphere of its native people.

                        Also, congratulations for proving Godwin's law.

                        The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

                        by KroneckerD on Tue Oct 12, 2010 at 05:26:06 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

      •  Legal Definition of Genocide: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Winter Rabbit

        Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:

           1) the mental element, meaning the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such", and

           2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called "genocide."

        (a) Killing members of the group;

        (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

        (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

        (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

        (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

        Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity.
        [1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide]

        The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

        by KroneckerD on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:45:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the "8 Stages" referred to by Winter Rabbit: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mollyd, Winter Rabbit

          8 Stages of Genocide.  The link gives you the details, but I'll list the steps:

          1.  Classification
          1.  Symbolization
          1.  Dehumanization
          1.  Organization
          1.  Polarization
          1.  Preparation
          1.  Extermination
          1.  Denial

          This methodology was determined by Gregory Stanton and presented to the US State Department in 1996.

          It's a more streamlined classification than the legal definition.

          The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

          by KroneckerD on Mon Oct 11, 2010 at 03:51:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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