The overdue recognition by President Biden of the Armenian Genocide of over a century ago serves as a reminder of the fact that such atrocities are all too common on our planet. It is almost impossible to name all the wars and mass murders in the name of whatever ideology have happened here. But let’s try a short list, not in any particular order:
- The Native American Genocide (yes, that is what Europeans did)
- The Civil War
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Khmer Rouge
- The Holocaust
- Stalin’s Purges
- Mao Zedong’s Regime
- WW I
- WW II
- The Vietnam War (not just ours)
- The Korean War
You will note that this article lumps war and genocide together. This is intentional because both are simply mass murder. Many people view war as some sort of justified act and so classify it differently. But that is just a sales tactic. This sounds brutal and it should.
The number of dead from the Iraq war is a much-debated subject. But the number was over 109,000 with another nearly 300,000 deaths from violence in the years following. This war was “sold” to the American public and the rest of the world with relentless PR campaigns. The campaign for the first Iraq war was managed by an international PR firm with atrocity stories about the ill treatment of Kuwaitis at the hands of the Iraqi invaders. The campaign was designed to appeal to our sense of justice and get us ready to watch the video-game like footage of enemy installations being blown up in such a way as to distance us from the carnage.
Iraq 2 was sold with the outright lies of Saddam Hussien’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction. He did not help his cause by gassing and murdering his own citizens.
The massive Vietnam escalation under Lyndon Johnson was sold to us with the Gulf of Tonkin “incident.”
And let’s not forget the American travesty of the coast-to-coast near extermination of the native cultures, cultures that Rick Santorum just denied the existence of. And also remember that the tactics used here were incorporated into South Africa’s apartheid laws.
In 1879 Wilhelm Wundt classified man as an animal to give a justification to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany that he could use to make soldiers—who were human after all— okay with the wholesale slaughter of other men. The Battle of the Somme in the first world war, lasting for four months, killed over 1 million men.
The Kaiser used the pretext of “us and them” to justify the wholesale extermination of men.
Hitler and the Nazis used “us and them” to justify the slaughter that became his attempt to conquer Europe and murder masses in the Holocaust.
To the Khmer Rouge the “others” were anyone educated or who wore glasses.
In Rwanda, it was the “other” tribe. In Bosnia it was another version of “others.”
There is more to this than the cold-blooded fact that war is the world’s greatest and fastest profit driver. Just factor in the $2.4 trillion that was spent in Iraq and you can see one side of the equation.
This just tells us that there are people who will sell not only their souls for that kind of profit, but the lives of untold others.
What’s the other side of the equation?
We are. We have allowed these things to occur by failing to recognize when we’re being conned. By buying the sales pitch that “these others” are our enemies, that we are in danger from “them.” And thus we allow war and genocide to happen. Over and over.
When we as a people tolerate inept politicians who think war is a solution and propaganda-laced “news” which creates false impressions like a group of refugees are an “invading force,” when we allow the disparagement of literally anyone because of some perceived difference, we are feeding this beast.
The real solution is inclusion. All—and this is not figurative—all messages of real or imagined differences between people, cultures, languages, ethnicities, economic conditions, religions, etc., are exclusionary. All exclusionary treatments of “others” will lead to insanity, conflict and strife.
Want to end the insanity? Let’s start with inclusion. Never let anyone tell you someone else or another group is less than human or just something less. The vast majority of people are good and decent. The tiny few that tell you otherwise are suspect.