I started to use the phrase “age of genocide” in the title for this post. But, on reflection, I decided that the word genocide, horrible as it is, is actually too small.
Do we have a word to describe the organized mass slaughters of millions of people by governments, and in the case of ISIS, wannabe governments?
It is not “just” genocide” because, in the case of some of these mass slaughterers, such as Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot and Chairman Mao, it was not a slaughter aimed at a discreet group of people so much as it was aimed at anyone they could kill. Then we have the slaughtering dictators such as Idi Amin, who certainly aimed much of his killing at Christians, but also killed quite a few others, as well.
In fact, finding a “pure” genocide anywhere is way past difficult. The Armenian genocide, which wiped out most of the Christian population of Turkey (did anyone every wonder why that country is 99% Muslim?) and the holocaust the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews, are the closest.
But the Nazis, even though they clearly stated, intended and nearly accomplished the total annihilation of the Jewish people in their conquered territories, also murdered whole seminaries of Catholic priests, gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, liberals and the disabled. The murder of Muslims in Bosnia (which United Nations troops, including a lot of Americans, brought to a halt) is another example of what might be at least an attempt at pure genocide.
What we are seeing in the Middle East today is, once again, a lot bigger than “just” genocide. Like most genocidal murderers, ISIS is, at base, just a bunch of murdering thugs. What that means in terms of what they do is that they don’t stop at “just” murdering every Christian and Yazidi they can kill. They also kill Muslims who don’t fit their idea of what a “true” Muslim is, and they kill journalists in attempts to extort ransom money, and they kill a lot of other people, as well.
They kill because they are cold-blooded murderers who have created a religious excuse for being what they are.
That’s why the term genocide is too small for the organized slaughter of innocents that has been taking place all over our globe since the turn of the 20th Century. If we limit it to the organized attempts to wipe out specific and discreet groups of people within a given population, we will ignore the murderous destruction of millions of other lives.
That’s how Stalin gets through the genocide sieve. He killed everybody.
Genocide as a word has a meaning that is too small for the organized murdering that we are dealing with in today’s world. If that doesn’t scare you, you probably don’t understand it.
Alongside this murdering fury that is the true hallmark by which our times will be remembered in history, are the emotional reactions to this savagery from its bystanders.
Members of the groups which are being slaughtered are often themselves under attack or at least somewhat marginalized in the less murderous societies in which they live. That was the case with Jews around the world when the Nazis were gearing up their killing machine. Even American Jews suffered social discrimination in terms of club memberships and the names they were called.
That leads to a frozen-in-place non-response by those who should be most equipped to help. Instead of rallying support for their persecuted brethren, members of the same group often turn away and ignore their plight. That certainly happened with the Jews.
Then, we have the subtle collaboration of news media and groups who do not like their own neighbors who are members of groups being persecuted in other lands. That fits the situation with Christian persecution. I’ve experienced myself the aggressive bullying whose motive is to silence anyone who talks about Christian persecution. I’ve also witnessed the relative silence about it in the mainstream media.
This is coupled with a group emphasis on anyone who does something that can be used to either weaken concern for persecuted Christians or to increase public dislike of them.
Witness the extraordinary emphasis given to the Westboro Baptist Church, which is in fact, just about a dozen (or less) individuals with signs. You would think, based on what has been written and said in certain Christian-bashing circles, that they were the pope speaking ex cathedra.
The same goes for one lone blog post which was written by a grievously wrong Christian calling for the classic run-up to genocide against Muslims. I’m going to write a full post on that alone as soon as I finish writing this one. But before I do that, I want to discuss the lack of proportion and reality with which it is being dealt.
First, in some Christian-bashing circles, their outraged coverage of this one blog post from an obscure blog site is the only commentary they’ve made about the mass slaughter of Christians in the Middle East. These are often the same people who attack anyone who tries to talk about Christian persecution.
I don’t take their outrage seriously because I see it as a targeted outrage, designed to create prejudice against Christians and provide tacit support for worldwide discrimination against and persecution of Christians. I see these bloggers as enablers of violent persecution of innocent people.
Second, we have the reaction of Muslim people who feel beleaguered because of the hideous behavior of their co-religionists. See? They seem to say. It’s not just us.
No. It’s not just them. Psychopathic murderers with government or quasi government backing are a widespread phenomena that cross all ethnic, religious (or non religious) groups. In light of this reality, I think it’s time for us to lay down the “It’s them!” “It’s not just us!” nonsense and simply acknowledge that murderers walk among us and they will use any excuse to ply their trade.
And that this the point of this post. Genocide as a word is too small for the mass murders we have seen for the past 100 years of human history. There is no group of people innocent of these murdering rampages.
If we are going to deal with these mass murders effectively and end them, we must begin by looking at them with a sense of proportion and in the light of reality. ISIS is nothing more than a gang of extortionists and mass murderers. They can dress up in Halloween costumes and claim that god is on their side all day long, and it will not change the fact that they are cold-blooded, murdering savages who have damned themselves before the real God.
Ditto for every other gang of murdering savages we’ve seen. Ted Bundy we can execute. But when the Ted Bundys of this world get their hands on philosophies and government, it takes a bit more than a flip of the switch to end them.
Proportion, applied to ISIS and all their murdering type, requires that we stop playing games with mass murder. There are some crimes that have to be stopped, and the organized mass murder of innocents is one of those crimes. We must not equate everything with this one thing. Blog posts can be argued and their ideas scuttled. But blog posts, however upsetting, are not the same thing as the actual organized murder of innocents on a mass scale.
Reality requires that we acknowledge that there is no group of people who can point their fingers at someone else and claim moral superiority in this. Organized mass murder of innocents has become part of the human story. If the history of this bloodshed has shown us anything, it is that any group of people is capable of it.
I’ve referenced the wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous before when I was discussing the self-lies we tell. I will probably do it many times. AA has a wisdom in dealing with self-lies that kill.
You must accept reality on reality’s terms.
That’s AA advice for recovering alcoholics and co-dependents. It is wisdom for our time.