Genocide is a hard concept to comprehend. The definition itself is fairly simple to grasp: the deliberate killing of a large group of people. But as a real-time concept, that’s where it gets messy. How does this happen? Who lets this happen? How does it start?
Based on a chapter “ Background and History,” from the book Key Issues Associated with Genocide, politics is at the center of genocide.
Typically, genocide starts when a particular nation is at war, and ideas start to form from that particular nation’s political leader. During wartime, it is easier for a nation to see the group as a whole rather than as individuals and real people. They find this group responsible for certain social, political, or economic issues.
The political leader constructs this group as the “other,” making them alienated, shunned in society, and creating the destruction of the group’s identity. This grouping also influences the psychological, cultural, and social construction of society. This includes the excommunication individuals from the targeted group, the dehumanization of the group, and killings being targeted to this group.
These leaders use language that dehumanizes and blames a certain group, often in media and propaganda. Dehumanization is a hard concept to wrap your head around. It seems almost impossible anyone can think this way about another human being, but it happens. This group is represented as symbols, not human beings. They are seen as subhuman, vermin, even evil.
Politics is at the center and start of genocide. As a society, we must be always thinking for ourselves, not letting others do it for us. We must be critically thinking about our politicians, our government, and our media.
Nothing can be taken at face value anymore. There are good and bad politicians, and it is our job as citizens to figure out who is who. We cannot trust those who blame others, blame entire races, or blame a specific group. And when we see it, we must rise in opposition.
Opposition is key. Rise up. Stand up for others. Represent what is right.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” –Elie Wiesel