Sunday, June 19, 2005


Post lifted from Hube's Cube

A loyal reader of the Cube sends word of a police "sensitivity training" program down in the Big Easy (that's New Orleans) -- led by the one and only -- get ready -- Louis Farrakhan. Oh, but wait -- it was cancelled! Why? Some officers and religious leaders complained! Who'da thunk it?

Tuesday's announcement came after a barrage of criticism from local religious leaders concerned by comments from Farrakhan, who once called Judaism a "dirty religion" and has preached racial separatism.

"You can't get a happy and successful result from a foundation of bigotry and rot. He has absolutely no credibility to stand in front of our community and do sensitivity training, because he is, by definition, insensitive," Rabbi Ed Cohn of Temple Sinai said before learning the contract would be rescinded.

Lt. David Benelli, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, said officers of all ranks, races and religions immediately began voicing "outrage and disgust" about the decision to hire Muhammad after getting word of the plan Friday.

I thought this madness had reached its pinnacle when I heard about the inanity that is the Crossroads Ministries. But I gotta admit that having anyone from the Nation of Islam teaching "sensitivity" is about as big a head-shaker as they come.

Hey, isn't David Duke from Louisiana? Why not hire him for this "training"?


I have lifted this post from Pirate Ballerina -- the nemesis of the disgusting Prof. Ward Churchill. The post was originally titled "The Genocide of Indian burns". Unless I am gravely mistaken, "Indian burns" are what children call "Chinese burns" in Australia -- suggesting that the ethnic description serves only to indicate that it is a different sort of burn. I have included an interesting comment on the original post

How do you define the word "genocide"?

Chances are, you define it to mean the extermination of an ethnic or national group. You'll be happy to know that the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged) agrees with you. Genocide, it says, is "[t]he deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group." (italics mine)

Most of us, then, understand that when someone makes a charge of "genocide," they mean the extermination of an ethnic or national group is taking place, and naturally, we are greatly concerned, if not outraged. The accuser certainly has our attention.

That's how you understand it, and that's how you apply it. You hear "genocide" and you think of Nazi death camps. You hear "genocide" and you think of Pol Pot's killing fields. You hear "genocide" and you think of gassed Kurds.

Would it surprise you to know that "genocide" can be applied to the act of telling a Pollack joke? That the "tomahawk chop" of Atlanta Braves fans is, in fact, genocide? That the very name of the Braves baseball team is itself, genocide?

Unlike the accusations "fascist!" and "Nazi!" which have in their over-application become virtually meaningless, almost without sting, the word "genocide" has retained its original meaning while maintaining maximum impact—entirely due to the fact that it does not mean what you think it means.

The word was first coined by Raphael Lemkin in his Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress, (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), In coining the word, Lemkin offered this initial definition:
"By 'genocide' we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group."
Had Lemkin left it at that, generations of (primarily leftist) activists would have been deprived of a favorite accusation (rivaled only, of course, by "fascist!" and "Nazi!"). Fortunately, Lemkin went on to more fully define his new word (emphasis mine):
"[W]e must see to it that the Hague Regulations are so amended as expressly to prohibit genocide in any war which may occur in the future. De lege ferenda, the definition of genocide in the Hague Regulations thus amended should consist of two essential parts, in the first should be included every action infringing upon the life, liberty, health, corporal integrity, economic existence, and the honor of the inhabitants when committed because they belong to a national, religious, or racial group; and in the second, every policy aiming at the destruction or the aggrandizement of one of such groups to the prejudice or detriment of another."
From this, it is easy to see that Ward Churchill's many accusations of genocide are well within the meaning of the word as Lemkin himself defined it. With Lemkin's definition in hand, it can easily be argued that the assimilation of one ethnic group by another is genocide (which Churchill has, in fact, used as an example of genocide), since "every action" that infringes upon the "corporal integrity" of a group is genocide. It can easily be argued that telling a Polack joke "infringes on... the honor" of Poland, and is therefore—by Lemkin's own definition—genocide. It can easily be argued that giving an "Indian burn" is particularly genocidal because both its name and its application infringes upon the honor of Native Americans. The use of that childhood staple's other name, "Dutch rub" would, of course, be equally genocidal in its infringement of the honor of the Dutch.

Obviously (to you and me, not to the intellectual Left), these are ludicrous examples. Even though they fit Lemkin's criteria, Polack jokes, or tomahawk chops, or "Indian burns"—crude or unkind or puerile they may be—are not acts of genocide. But "genocide" can be, and very often is—applied to actions in a way that is just as absurd—and still cleave to Lemkin's definition. Intellectuals like Churchill can properly and quite correctly attribute's genocide to the the Atlanta Braves, to a Big Chief writing tablet, to the Land o Lakes butter logo, to the tomahawk chop. (Excepting Polack jokes, Ward Churchill argues this).

And therein lies the problem, this dichotomy between what we plebeians (along with the Oxford English Dictionary) understand "genocide" to mean, and what the cognoscenti know it to mean (and yes, they know what Lemkin said; check the number of citations to his definition in (primarily leftist) screeds—including Churchill's).

It can easily be argued that the (primarily leftist) ideologues who use "genocide" in Lemkin's expanded definition are guilty of exploiting our erroneous belief that it means the "extermination of an ethnic or national group" in order to arouse our passions against some act we might otherwise consider (rightly or wrongly) innocuous and ignore.

If you think I'm exaggerating, google the phrases "zionist genocide" (369 listings), "religious genocide" (3,620), "gay genocide" (610), "animal genocide" (279) or "[pick any noun] genocide" sometime. I recommend you do it when you have a great deal of free time, and absolutely nothing more important to do.

To use a quote by Russell Thornton slightly out of context, "The history is bad enough— there's no need to embellish it." Using the charge of "genocide" to describe any act of which you disapprove simply because you know it will get everyone's attention is not clever. It's dishonest—even when you know you're using the word in a way Lemkin would have approved.

My thanks to PirateBallerina's own troll, Kern, without whose goading this essay might not have been conceived.

Update: It occurs to me that I misspoke; as any recipient of both can tell you, the Indian burn and the Dutch rub—though equally unpleasant (and, yes,  genocidal)—are not the same thing.

Two comments, already:

Hey, I do my best. Only two major problems with your essay.

1. As you pointed out in your own earlier post, Churchill doesn't generally stand by Lemkin's definition. Neither does anyone else I can think of. It's a nice straw man argument you've set up, but doesn't have any bearing on Churchill's work, or anybody else’s I can think of.

2. There's a functional definition that we can and probably should all understand: the UN Genocide Convention. It's a matter of law, after all. And the law still it still doesn't mean what you seem to think it does.

One of my favorite stories of the Churchill debacle was listening to local village idiots Caplis, Silverman and Vincent Carroll guffaw at Churchill’s book Kill the Indian, Spare the Man. They seemed particularly amused that he contends the Indian Boarding School system was genocidal.

Which, of course, it was. Not by Lemkin’s definition, but by international law. According to Article 2, (e) of the Genocide Convention “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” constitutes genocide when the intent is to destroy “in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” If you reeducate children to disassociate from their own ethnical group, you can effectively destroy it without killing a single person. As that was the stated goal of the Indian Boarding Schools, it’s hard to see the matter otherwise.

I was a little impressed that three Denver public figures would hold forth on something they seemed crushingly ignorant about. Of course, upon listening to the rest of the show I came to understand this was par for course. This example seemed particularly egregious, though, given they were lawyers and the Genocide Convention is neither hard to find nor hard to decipher – it’s about two pages long, and what I just quoted is on the first page.

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