this started out as a comment on erika's blog, but kind of got out of control. check out the link on the right to go to erika's page and then come back here...
i agree, let's call a spade a spade. the question is, how do we get started?
medical and science journals, i would have thought, are part of that arena that is ostensibly apolitical, reporting on the facts of a thing rather than the politics of a thing. so how do we get these reports into the circles of influence of the people who can effect change in these areas?
i wonder if making these issues personal to people here might not be the only way to get people... unnerved enough to act on them? i remember the AIDS awareness ad campaigns that did more to scare than to educate but i know very little about how effective they were and not so much how effective in their intend results but what actual results they produced. so how do we make genocide, how do we make "ethnic cleansing" and "forced mass explusions" a tangible concept to comfortable westernised australians?
we live in a country where our head of government refuses to make an apology (and he could make clear his apology does not open the door for reparations, if that is what he's worried about) to the aborigines of australia for the impact of european settlement on the lives they had before the arrival to our shores of europeans. the extent of that impact was felt in various ways in various places but seems now to be widely regarded as mass slaughter and forced assimilation. i wonder if the reason there seems to be no forward progress on this issue is the (very human) tendency to focus on the misdeeds of the past and assign blame rather than focus on the opportunities presented by the future?
it is not as if australia is unique in this backwards stumble into the twenty-first century. consider: israel, the sudan, china, north korea, the balkans, iraq, iran, basque and flemish unrest, the "troubles" in ireland; countless tribal conflicts across africa; gang warfare and organised crime in the u.s., russia, japan, italy, the u.k., south-east asia; the unilateral actions of thousands of corporations paying lip-service to nations' sovereignty whilst investing no more in local economies than is necessary to provide a springboard to move to the next low-cost flag-of-convenience country.
to begin to take responsibility now does not need to mean a carte-blanche acceptance of responsibility for what has happened in the past. no foster parent accepts the responsibility for the abuse the child now in their care may have suffered in the past at the hands of their biological parents or previous guardians! neither do i think, however, that they would be able to ignore such abuse and pretend it never occurred.
there must be a middle road, a balance of accepted responsibility and deliberate forgiveness, for those involved to move on. could nazi germany have evolved under a weimar republic that was more liberal or more draconian? was it partly the punitive terms of the treaties that came out of WWI that allowed for the fostering of resentment of other nations without and scapegoat groups within germany, a resentment that became intitutionalised and executed in the death machine that the third reich became? a death machine that was so horrible that those who survived it and those who brought it down believed that such a thing should never be allowed to happen again?
the idea of genocide might have been brought horribly into the public eye by the holocaust but how much of an impact did such widespread knowledge of it in the west have on all those jews slaughtered under the stalinist regime in the u.s.s.r? it's not as if concentration camps were new (i'm pretty sure they were used in the boer war). jews and kurds alike have been living under the threat of extinction for centuries. where one tribe has sought to exterminate another tribe, isn't that genocide?
so do we need to decide how to define genocide or to decide what we actually intend to do about it when we see it?
water's wet, the sky is blue, and there seem to be a lot of good men standing by doing nothing. as i write this, i feel like i'm one of them. so what do i do?