The ultimate crime

(Canscene) — Genocide seems to be the hot button word of the moment. Most of us agree it refers to an unspeakable, organized crime against humanity.

Recently, I was asked to provide input into the proposed Toronto School Board course for grade ll students “Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications” I was told that there were three main subjects; The Holocaust, the Massacre of Armenians in 1915 and the Rwandan Massacres.

I declined to endorse the line of study, because it chose but three subjects.

What about the deliberate famine created by Stalin in Ukraine in the 20s? And Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia.? And back into history, countless genocides like events like the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestant Huguenots in France and the Romans’ sack of Carthage.

Surely, I thought there must be some common denominator behind all these horrific acts. Why pick on just three, when genocide is as old as history?

Is humankind cursed with an inherent trend toward evildoing? Are there some among us “born to carry this curse? What is the mental state that prompts masses to follow a genocidal leader?

We need to start with the belief that genocide, for whatever reason, ethnic, religious or political, is a crime against humanity. Yet men persist in justifying these crimes and genocide often has relatively small beginnings: a little touch of intolerance , a little bit of blame, a little bit of ridicule.
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