Humans capacity for horror doesn’t need illustration, just watching the nightly news makes a good case for pessimism. History is littered with monstrous events, we’re all taught about the abhorrence of slavery or the immorality of imperialism. The cliche that history repeats itself remains relevant. As we continue to evolve, the goals of alleviating suffering and the prevention of atrocities must prevail.
Why does history repeat itself? If we look at all the constants, answers will arise. There are many consistencies, one is humanity itself. History may repeat itself because history involves the documentation of people and while the cloths we wear are different, our tendencies and ingrained impulses aren’t: the collective search for meaning, the individual’s desire for survival and our leader’s innate motivations for expansion. Essentially the politics of mankind haven’t changed. Mistakes are repeated due to certain mistakes being politically disadvantageous to recognise. The politics of nations and diplomacy between state keeps dust under the rug while highlighting other crimes for less than righteous reasons. We can’t cherry pick evil, only expose it no matter the costs.
You could have an endless stream of sadness perpetrated on a daily basis, a myriad examples. Of rape, murder, thieving, the list doesn’t end.Causes of such crimes differ from moments of passion to premeditated violence for the acquisition of money. All indefensible although somewhat understandable. We can’t imitate some behaviours but we can familiarise ourselves with the reasons behind them. If one crime stands out above the rest for its immeasurable maliciousness, and the enormous psychological indoctrination it takes to get to the point of its animalistic execution, it’s Genocide. Something that should be left in the traumatic memory of the past, next to slavery and torture.
The UN does have an official mandate against Genocide, but here we are in 2017 sitting in silence while Middle Eastern and Northern African Christians, along with the Kurds, are being systematically eradicated. Western media stays silent while trying to convince us Donald Trump’s tweets are the real threat. How did we get this point? It can be traced back to the 20th century’s first real application of ideological genocide and the total failure of the civilized world to make a concrete stand against it.
Ideological genocide can be defined as the systematic eradication of a certain subset of the population within a national or tribal community. This subset of the targeted population can be identified by their differing ethnicity or belief system, whether religious or secular. Unlike revenge crimes, where one group who feels they’ve been oppressed by another part of society, comes together to violently and collectively attack the perceived oppressors, as seen in Rwanda during the Hutus mass murder of the smaller but Belgian supported Tutsi population. The villainous nature of ideological genocide stems from it’s ability to completely dehumanise a group of people based on nothing but the idea that they don’t fit into a certain future, a future that was concocted in someone’s head and holds no other legitimacy, no motive, no reasoning other than not fitting into the ideological framework of a certain civilization.
One of the largest crimes ever committed in modern history was the attempted destruction of the oldest Christian population in the world, The Armenians, who had been living under Ottoman rule for centuries by the time World War 1 broke out in 1914. Approximately 1.5 million Armenians weren’t accounted for by the time the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist in 1919. A Muslim group called The Young Turks promoted the idea of Turkey for the Turks, they felt this territory belonged to them and wanted a homogeneous ethno-centric state purely for Muslims. What makes such a prodigious crime possible? Firstly you need confusion or a distracted international community. War provided the perfect blanket to hide Turkey’s insidious intentions. Allied powers were at war with Turkey, rendering their objections useless, and Germany was too afraid to oppose the policy due to their wartime alliance and unwillingness to offend its partner. Politics and survival took precedence. You need resistance nullified, achieved by having all the able bodied Armenian men conscripted to World War 1 and sent to the hellish front lines of the Western Front in doomed missions that were sure to fail, ending in the deaths of 98 percent of Armenian soldiers. While the men had been neutralised, The Young Turks gathered a small group of zealous Muslims, who forced over a million Armenian woman and children to march through the desert with little food and water, under the guise of being relocated. They marched them all the way to the outskirts of Turkey, where the survivors were cruelly rounded up, shot and buried in mass graves.
Genocide isn’t random or haphazardly planned. It’s achieved with surgical like tactics, relying on deceitful, surreptitious motives and ideologically superiority. That’s what makes it inexcusable. You can’t justify the premeditating annihilation of an ethnic group without revealing the nefarious nature of your beliefs. After the fall of the Axis powers, the Ottoman Empire was broken up and the modern day Middle East was born. International awareness of the Ottoman’s crimes were given little pockets of attention in the media and you can cite a few diplomats who took a stand against what happened, but overall it was largely ignored. European allied powers were too fatigued and mentally drained from the horrors their population had experienced. America wanted to work with the new state of Turkey, turning a cheek to the genocide in favour of diplomacy, and the citizens of the world had their own problems to contend with. The world had seen too much horror to bring justice for the Armenians, they slipped between the cracks of politics.
Now, the murder of over 1.5 million people seems unfathomable, but the idea of history repeating itself holds the most legitimacy in the case of the Armenians. The blind eye turned here created the idea that this can be achieved without serious repercussions. The systematic killing of Armenians played a major role in the extermination of German Jews under the Third Reich. As Hitler and his cabinet discussed the possibilities of Jewish destruction, when questioned about the international response, he famously said “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” Silent condemnation gives way to tacit approval. Hitler was emboldened by the silence surrounding the Armenians, employing the same tactics to goad Jews into concentration camps. Lying about relocation and rounding up the males first under the guise of improving industry so the female population would be left without defence. Records show up to 6 million Jews were viciously murdered, starved or overworked in concentration camps. Prioritising political semantics gave Hitler the impression that justice only mattered if it served a nation’s political purpose.
To this day America still hasn’t officially recognised the Armenian Genocide for fear of diplomatic repercussions. As Turkey gains greater significance as a regional power in the Middle East, the fates of Syria, Israel and the Kurdish-held territory in Northern Syria lay heavily in Turkey’s hands. Both Russia and the west tread lightly as Turkey’s support is a crucial element in the future of the region. The silence of the supposed civilized world in the face of Christian extermination in the west is deafening. Religious Christians living in the Middle East are being single handedly wiped out of existence, with one Christian being murdered every 15 minutes at the hands of Islamic extremists, the same Islamic extremists that have been given Western weaponry for political reasons. If any other type of minority was being targeted to that extent, the uproar would be thunderous, all over the news and Facebook. Every uppity blogger would be screaming from the rooftops, and rightfully so. It does force the comparison between Turkey and Germany, and poses the immoral question of is it better to deny your past crimes for the purpose of national integrity?.
Unless you come from a long line of Buddhist monks who spend their time meditating and raking leaves in a garden, chances are whatever ethnic, national or religious group your ancestors hail from are responsible for atrocities at one point in their existence. American apologised for Jim crow, Britain reproached its past colonial crimes and Germany is in perpetual sorrow over its role in WW2. All these countries today face major internal divisions and have failed to unify their citizens. German schools today educate German youth to believe that their National image is based on hatred and xenophobia, leading them to believe there’s no positives from their rich Prussian past and the very land their ancestors fought for doesn’t belong to them. Their birthrates are dwindling and their culture faces an unsure future with the mass migration of migrants threatening to change the cultural face of Germany forever. Juxtapose that with Turkey and you get the complete opposite, thriving demographics, booming birthrates, an intense patriotic zeal towards their homeland and the reemergence of Turkey as a vital growing political entity on the world stage. Ethical Politics and peaceful diplomacy are imperative to sustainable peace between nations, but history keeps repeating itself for a reason. Maybe what’s politically beneficial to one party isn’t exactly helpful to future generations. Once Bashar Al Assad allegedly used chemical weapons against his own population. America and UN took a moral stand, acting on the idea that under no circumstances is the use of chemical weapons tolerated. That stand needs to be made for Genocide too, no matter what the ramifications are, for humanity as a collective cannot stand or brush over the inhumane and primitive crime of genocide.