Friday, January 28, 2011

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day: This Jew asks, "What other genocides and mass atrocities are remembered and acknowledged in this way?"

photograph displaying grotesque anti-Semitic atrocity in a Nazi Death Camp pit is from here.
The gruesome photograph is cropped. I'm using the cropped version only because it allows for a visual reminder of what mass-death looks like, without the ability to focus in on the expressions on the faces or personal details of the bodies of those who perished. Generally, I won't put images of deceased people on this blog. We must note from the start, here, that only some humans will ever be regarded as human enough to support an international mourning of their loss.

At one website where the uncropped image exists, *here*, a commenter makes the following statement, referring to the importance of not forgetting the Nazi Holocaust and specifically addressing the matter of not forgetting who Adolph Hitler was and what he accomplished as a cultural-political leader in Germany in the 1930s and across half of the 1940s:
The man was a monster, supported by other monsters, and worshipped by millions. Sad to think he only gets less than a page in the new history books. Once he is forgotten we are doomed to repeat the horrors again.
A monster with other monsters: no. Monstrosity: yes. On the matter of repeated horrors, see all that follows. At the bottom of this post is copied text about "International Holocaust Remembrance Day", which occurred just yesterday. At the bottom of that piece, are links to related materials. It is the article to which the last link leads that I'll be addressing here, in an open letter to its authors.

I'm never sure what the function of such remembrance days is, other than to acknowledge those killed by and who survive genocidal atrocity with some level of collective respect and reverence. The perishing of approximately a dozen million people (some estimate the number of millions to be higher) across the span of five or so years, accomplished not by disease or famine (neither of which is apolitical), is something that ought not be forgotten and any and all social forces and dynamics that made such a heinous event happen ought be studied and not forgotten, in the service of preventing other similar atrocities. I am fully supportive of making time to remember those lost to political atrocity. The question immediately rises, though: whose political atrocities count, both as politically motivated crimes against humanity, and as genocides? And, why only a day of remembrance? Why not, in addition to that, an every-day accounting of our on-going atrocities?

What follows next is an article from, and you may link back to it by clicking on the title. My commentary to the authors is in brackets and in bold.

Marking liberation from Auschwitz

Supporters of longtime opposition leader Alassane Ouattara take to
 the streets in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. | AP Photo
A political march regarding the state television chief in Ivory Coast coast turned violent in 2010. | AP Photo Close


Today marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The United Nations designated this date International Holocaust Remembrance Day to honor the memory of those killed during the [Nazi] Holocaust and to rededicate ourselves to doing all we can to prevent such horrible crimes from happening again.  

[Michael and Mark, I hope you are aware of the horrible crimes that have happened in North America in the period of time inclusive of and since the anti-Semitic and otherwise anti-human Nazi atrocities during WWII occurred. 

I hope you know, for example, that forced sterilisation of many ethnic groups of women, and the boarding and brutalising, including sexually, of First Nations and American Indian children was common practice through the 1960s. Human rights has yet to be realised in the Great Nation of the United States, which is responsible for millions of deaths globally, since the 1960s. Genocide against Indigenous Peoples cross-continentally, and in North America specifically, is on-going, is never-ending, and isn't so much a matter of what those of us who are white and Jewish ought "never forget" as it is a matter we ought to finally recognise as happening. In order to never forget something it must first be acknowledged, and not denied even as it occurs. This is, most certainly, the case with genocide of Indigenous people on this continent, and to Indigenous people globally perpetrated by our government policies and corporate heads wreaking havoc on the Earth which includes the sacred ground and homelands of so many nations of Native people. 

We still have an annual holiday, a whole day set aside for remembrance, during which we are encouraged to celebrate and honor a man who was a European invader, a serial rapist, a trafficker of girls, and a racist mass murderer. I'm sure you know his name: Christopher Columbus. I have written about this rapist savage, *here*. The piece was originally titled "A broch tzu Columbus: a curse on Columbus." 

As a Jew, I find it beyond comprehension and any claim to national morality that the U.S. has been celebrating this monstrous terrorist's life and horrific "accomplishments" for over one hundred years. We also take four days per year towards the end of November to celebrate the beginning of what remains the feast which symbolises the start of the largest genocide, in terms of gross numbers of those barbarically massacred, that the world has ever known. (Estimates range from 70 to 90 million people destroyed, which includes scores of nations and hundreds of cultures and ethnic groups. Here. Not over there.

What do you make of a popular information website promoting an idea that As many or more Europeans were killed by American Indians were American Indians killed by European men? See *here* for more. What would your own response be to an established Wikipedia page promoting the idea that as many Nazis were killed by Jews as Jews killed by Nazis, across the 1930s and through the mid-1940s? In what sense is such a webpage not outrageously propagandistic and horrendously racist? Where is our outrage?)

What do you feel about the fact that there are, presently, race-specific atrocities completely denied by white people who benefit from it in the U.S.: against the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and also against Black and Brown people. What do you make of this act of omission by whites who control or have the most access to our media?]

Given the bloody history of the past five decades — in Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur and other places [I'm wondering why you limit the global scope to part of Southeast Asia, two regions of sub-Saharan Africa, and part of Europe: what is the function of ignoring the genocide happening in North America? I'd argue it is ignored because white men and their media in the U.S. do not believe they are in any way responsible the genocides you do list; this assumption is terribly, horribly false: U.S. and European white men are implicated quite directly in each and every one of them]— a healthy degree of skepticism is warranted about politicians’ commitment to the lofty goal of “never again.” [Especially when current genocides against many Indigenous Nations, against many ethnic groups--each happening in the U.S.--will not even be referenced, discussed, footnoted, or alluded to in a piece like yours. Nor will such atrocities be given a day during which we pledge to remember to stop committing them.] However, we believe that progress is discernible. Efforts by the United Nations and among member states to make genocide prevention a priority, coupled with a new focus by government officials and civil society [Given that the majority of those states are responsible for perpetrating genocide presently, committing other racist atrocity, and maintaining massive systematic crimes against women and girls to this day and well into tomorrow, what is your definition of "civil"?] on keeping political crises from metastasizing into massive violence against civilians, offer hope that a world without genocide is attainable. [Who are "civilians"? Are African Americans "civilians"? Are Mexicans and Mexican-Amricans? Are American Indians? Are women and girls across ethnicity and race? What are "political crises" and what constitutes "massive violence"? Men's rape of women and girls? Men's battery and sexual assault of women and children? Men's trafficking and sexual slavery of women and girls? I would appreciate an answer to this and any other questions posed to you here.]

Nearly 17 years ago, the United Nations looked the other way as genocide unfolded in Rwanda. So it was more than a little noteworthy last week when two senior U.N. officials, charged with monitoring for the threat of such grave crimes, bluntly warned about “the possibility of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing” in the Ivory Coast. [And also between the Atlantic Coast and the Pacific Coast of the United States, no? Again, my charge is that you are focusing on the possibility of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing programs, and other mass atrocities over there so as to avoid discussing those happening right here. What is the social function of rendering completely invisible the numerous and horrifying mass atrocities against women--white and of color? And against Black and Brown men and women living in the U.S.? Is the maintenance of a system of poverty inside and outside the U.S. a crime against humanity and form of ethnic cleansing, as far as you are concerned? Is what is happening to American Indians now cultural, spiritual, and physical genocide or isn't it?]

The Security Council has reinforced the U.N. peacekeeping force in the country, and numerous governments in Africa and elsewhere [in the U.S.?] are pressing Laurent Gbagbo to step down after the internationally recognized victory of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in November’s election.

In Sudan, a referendum likely to result in partition of the country later this year proceeded relatively peacefully, following an intense diplomatic push by the United States and other countries. [This is the first time in this article you mention the actions of the United States. It is when the U.S. promotes ending atrocity, not when the U.S. government and its military and adult white male citizenry perpetrate it. Do you get the political function of these selective offerings of what the U.S. does?] Only six months ago, there were serious questions about whether the referendum would occur on time, and many feared a return to the sweeping violence, even genocide, that has plagued Africa’s largest country since its independence in 1956. [1956. That would be the year the following occurred in the U.S. Civil Rights struggle (source: *here*):
University of Alabama admits Autherine Lucy as its first African-American student, February 3, after prolonged litigation in federal court. White students and Tuscaloosa residents riot on February 6, and Lucy is suspended, allegedly for her own safety; she is later expelled for criticizing the university.

Special session of the Virginia legislature in August adopts program of "massive resistance" to school desegregation that calls for the closing of schools under desegregation orders.

Governor Frank Clement orders the National Guard to restore order in Clinton, Tennessee, on September 2 after white mobs attempt to block the desegregation of the high school.

Eisenhower is reelected on November 6.

Supreme Court affirms ruling of lower federal court in Browder v. Gayle declaring segregation on Alabama intrastate buses to be unconstitutional, November 13.

Montgomery boycott ends on December 21 as municipal buses begin operating on a desegregated basis. (Read Ted Poston in The New York Post, June 19, 1956 reporting on the boycott.)
1956 would also be the year in the U.S. marking state recognition (by North Carolina) of an Indigenous Nation, the Lumbee. Federal recognition has yet to occur. From *here*:
The Lumbee are the present-day descendants of the Cheraw Tribe and have continuously existed in and around Robeson County since the early part of the eighteenth century. (Note: A brief timeline of Lumbee history can be found by clicking here.) In 1885, the tribe was recognized as Indian by the State of North Carolina. The tribe has sought full federal recognition from the United States Government since 1888. In 1956, Congress passed the Lumbee Act, which recognized the tribe as Indian. However, the Act withheld the full benefits of federal recognition from the tribe. Efforts are currently underway to pass federal legislation that grants full recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
It was also a year of U.S. atrocity against Vietnamese people in the "United States War", called "The Vietnam War" by U.S.ers, so as not to so directly implicate and name U.S. Americans as the genocidal mass murders, based on their national/ethnic identity.

It was also a year in which there was a massive campaign to domesticate women in middle class and suburban homes. Poorer women, usually Black, were already being exploited for labor in other ways, including by being economically forced to clean whites' homes and care for whites' children, leaving their own children at home.]

Severe dangers remain in both the Ivory Coast and Sudan [and in the U.S.?]— particularly in the long-troubled Darfur region, [what about the long-troubled regions where the Navajo and Dakota live?] where violence has surged in recent months. However, there is reason to hope that governments around the world are finally getting the message that investing to prevent mass atrocities is not only sound humanitarian policy but also far more cost effective — avoiding huge costs of handling refugees, reconstruction and other requirements that inevitably follow genocide. Genocidal states also are invariably failed states, which incubate terrorism, pandemic diseases and other scourges. [This appears to me to be about as morally bankrupt an argument for stopping genocide as I can imagine: because of what it might cost the perpetrators? Because it might incite violence or spread disease which will impact and infect the killers and their accomplices? Is that the moral/ethical point you are wanting to promote?]

Just last year, the United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to a “Responsibility to Protect,” making clear that its members are willing to step in to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities [such as trafficking and rape?] when countries are unwilling or unable to do so. New U.N. offices on RtoP and Genocide Prevention are working to shine a light on situations where these crimes are occurring or likely to occur. [Will any light be shone on the genocide in the U.S.? Will any ray reach the plight of women and girls surviving--or not--men's abuses them as women and as girls? Are female people across age capable of being recognized as a politically harmed group of citizens, in your opinion?]

The Obama administration has appointed, for the first time, a White House director of war crimes and atrocities at the National Security Council and established an interagency prevention committee to address potential threats of genocide and mass atrocities. [What does it mean, to you, that this is occurring "for the first time"? Is it because the U.S. has not understood the Maafa and slavery and segregation of African and African-descended people as a crime and atrocity--specifically: a genocidal one? Were not the lives of millions of West Africans lost in the trans-Atlantic journey into hell-on-Earth, and on sea? Were human beings not laid down in shackles due to their race? What definitional dimension of "genocide" is missing? 

Do we not mention what happened and continues to happen to Black people in the U.S. "genocide" because the U.S. government and the military and police forces collectively imprison Black and Brown people as a means of ethnic cleansing? Do we avoid discussing anything we do as "terrorism" and "an atrocity" because the U.S. not-so-covertly requires and presently maintains mass atrocities including terroristic assaults against women and girls, nationally and internationally; mass atrocities and terroristic assaults against poor people and people of color, regionally and globally? Do we avoid "the g word" for what the U.S. has always done because the actual, current crimes against American Indians and other Indigenous people are not at all a "potential threat" but are, rather, a present and very active form of genocide? Is it because we don't do "reparations" for people we are still genocidally killing? Do we wait to see whose left, hoping there will be few to no people to pay? How do you compare the stunning silence by white U.S. citizens, civil people, who rather defiantly refuse to acknowledge or regard an on-going genocide, as compared to the silence and inaction of "the good Germans"? Are all of these reasons why we cannot categorise over 500 years of white men's brutality against Black people as genocidal, if for 200 to 300 of those years white men who settled in what became the U.S. were among the slavers?]

Congress also has taken some tentative steps toward endorsing genocide prevention as a matter of policy. [What is your opinion on why these steps are tentative? And isn't it shameful that the U.S. is only considering doing any of this now (tentatively)?] On the last day of its recent session, the Senate passed a resolution that recognizes the U.S. national interest in “helping to prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and other mass atrocities against civilians and supporting and encouraging efforts to develop a whole government approach to prevent and mitigate such acts.” [Can you link me to the U.S. government's plans to prevent and mitigate rape, battery, pimping, trafficking, racist abuses by police forces, the blatantly illegal and forced imprisonment of Black, Brown, and Muslim people of any ethnicity, genocidal activities maintained by the U.S. government and U.S.-based corporations corruptly feigning residency abroad?]

As important as these steps taken by Washington is the continued growth of a vibrant and vocal constituency of citizens and nongovernmental organizations committed to the abolition of genocide and other mass atrocities. Governments everywhere are on notice that they risk public opprobrium and embarrassment if they fail to respond effectively to the kind of killing that took place in Rwanda or Darfur. [This capacity to feel such embarrassment--or regret, remorse, or shame, to move out of denial, to release this country's citizens from governmental and media-imposed delusions of grandeur--appears to me to exist beyond or outside the clinically sociopathic consciousness of those who rule in the U.S. Do you agree?]

Despite these gains, considerable work remains. [Let's start by recognising the genocide against Indigenous North Americans and against all women and girls. And by removing from our national calendar the shameful, disgraceful holidays of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.] Much of this agenda was laid out in the December 2008 report by the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen. The report recommends an array of measures aimed at strengthening government capacity to prevent mass atrocities. [Might it be prudent to start with a "Genocide Acknowledgment and Recognition Task Force"?]

Some of the recommendations have been adopted, but many have not — including a strong presidential statement of policy on preventing genocide, the creation of an international atrocities prevention network and greater funding for crisis prevention in countries at risk. [Such as for white men's terrorist activities uniquely targeting women and girls across ethnicity, and for terrorist activities against Black, Brown, Muslim, and Indigenous people across the U.S., and across the rest of the Americas? If what the U.S. military is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq and in other parts of Asia isn't terrorism, pray tell, what is it? Shall we consider our support of a white supremacist Israeli Apartheid state, displacing, relocating, policing, militarily brutalising, and mass murdering Palestinians, while also discriminating against people of color within Israel--Jews and non-Jews--to be "civil" and humane?]

This must be accompanied by continued efforts to build a permanent anti-genocide constituency around the world that will hold all governments [including the U.S.'s? Are human rights activists, including feminists, right to assume that "all" would include the U.S. government?] accountable for turning “never again” into a reality. This task requires organization and massive public education about the moral, financial and national security costs of genocide. [How about the cost in human life, in grief, in suffering, in will to resist, to those groups the U.S. government, its corporations, and militarily protected institutions systematically violate, exploit, dominate, and destroy? Would you agree that considering them in any assessment of cost would be moral, appropriate, and responsible?]

Achieving this goal would be a worthy accomplishment to celebrate on another International Holocaust Remembrance Day. [When kosher pigs fly.]

Michael Abramowitz is director of the Committee on Conscience, the genocide prevention initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mark Hanis is co-founder and president of the newly merged Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition. 

And finally, this. Please click on the title to link back.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. The U.N. resolution that created IHRD rejects denial of the Holocaust, and condemns discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity.

To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2011, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will host a candle-lighting ceremony attended by the Washington, D.C. diplomatic community, Holocaust survivors, and the general public. The ceremony will take place in the Museum's Hall of Remembrance.

Read or watch President Barack Obama’s remarks commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2010, which acknowledges the work of Sara Bloomfield and the Museum in preserving the memory of the Holocaust.

In addition, each April or May the United States officially commemorates the Holocaust during the national Days of Remembrance. The Museum is mandated by the U.S. Congress to lead the nation in commemorating this day.

Visit for more information and resources.

Watch a CBS public service announcement about International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featuring Katie Couric and the Museum.

Read an International Holocaust Remembrance Day Op-ed on preventing genocide today.



I'm not sure either what function days such as Holocaust and Rembrance Day serves unless of course it is to provide men with an excuse to claim 'look at what we did to purge our world of so-called monsters.' This of course ignores the fact gynocide and femicides continue daily and nothing is ever reported concerning men's centuries old war against women and girls.

If we were to remember the numbers of mass gynocides this would be impossible because we would have to go way back in men's history to start at the beginning.

But that would mean many men would feel uncomfortable and we don't want that do we. Far better to believe only certain genocides (sic) are worth remembering whereas gynocides continue to remain invisible. Such is the value men put on women's and girls' lives that the violence men commit against them is never acknowledged or even remembered.

Julian Real said...

Yes, Jennifer.

If the population of those killed is only female, there will be no accounting of it, for one thing. And far more focus will always be spend on the killer, turning him not into a monster, but rather some sort of perverse hero or cult figure.

On Facebook, in fact, they had a "game" wherein you (men) could answer a few questions--I don't even want to think about what they might have been--and then get the answer to "Which serial killer are you most like?"

I know this was protested by me and a few others on FB, but have no idea if the white boys in charge ever removed it.

So, as you well note, not only will gynocides and femicides not be regarded as heinous group-specific atrocities, but the more notable mass murderers (men, all of them) will be glorified in some disgusting way or another.

Julian Real said...

And, "conveniently" for the patriarchs and male supremacists, the violations and murders of women and girls are organised to happen intimately, often and usually one by one, so that everyone can believe that "one evil man" did something horrid. That there keep appearing into the news "one evil man" after another ought to be recognised as a sure sign that "evil" isn't the issue as much as the social construction and maintenance of an utterly misogynistic, murderous form of manhood.