The word “genocide” carries with it powerful emotional and political implications. As such, there are always those who will attempt to deny or belittle an actual genocide, or claim as a genocide something that is not.
In the former category, there are those like Ann Coulter, herself a joke, who here makes a poor attempt at one:
Saddam’s barbaric rape rooms, chemical attacks and torture – those, liberals could live with. But now they want us to send troops to Darfur, a country from which no one anticipates terrorism anytime in the next millennium. If you’re looking for a good definition of “no imminent threat,” Darfur is it. The climate change “emergency,” set to start taking effect sometime during the next century, is a more imminent threat to the United States than Darfur.These people can’t even wrap up genocide. We’ve been hearing about this slaughter in Darfur forever – and they still haven’t finished. The aggressors are moving like termites across that country. It’s like genocide by committee. Who’s running this holocaust in Darfur, FEMA?
We would, if it weren’t so ignorant, ignore the fact that Darfur is not a country– it’s a part of Sudan, which, under the rule of the National Islamic Front (which is still in power) harbored Osama bin Laden for five years. Having noted the sheer ignorance of this statement, however, we should point out that though it may not be proceeding as quickly as Coulter would like, the conflict in Darfur has claimed up to 450,000 lives. Is it a genocide?
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:
[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
- (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.
By the definition of the term– absolutely, yes, what is happening in Darfur is genocide.
In the latter category, that of those who wish to make genocide out of other situations that, while tragic, do not qualify, we have examples like the following, from a Washington Post article about violence in Rio:
“For young people, this is a genocide,” said Raquel Willadino, a director of violence-related issues and human rights for the Observatory of Favelas. “And I don’t mean that as a metaphor. It really is a genocide.”
The violence in Rio is certainly devastating– extrapolating the numbers in the article, 9 people are dying every day from violence– over 3,200 a year. It is not, however, the number dead that makes a genocide what it is. It is that the acts are “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”. This doesn’t appear to be the case in Rio, and so claiming it as genocide doesn’t do anything more than cheapen the word.