How Genocide Portrayal is Still Racist
Maybe it’s because of my lack of activity on this blog, or perhaps my sick fascination with Magneto, but I have been trying to find any books, dvds, documentaries, films, etc. about genocide. Startling, there is very little beyond the scope of The Holocaust, and even fewer about the targets outside of the Jewish peoples. I had old resources about the deaf population being targeted by SS Gestapo, and for experimentation, specifically two books. They are Crying Hands, and Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe. So I tried peeking at their footnotes, end notes, and other references for more. Amusingly enough, it was all direct resources from Hitler and Gestapo officials records. When trying to find a book just of compiled copies of Hitler’s and SS official correspondences, there were little to none, and again, vast majority were Jewish-specific.
There were some books about Romani, LGBQ, and mentally ill killings during the Holocaust, but they still were few and only found from some digging and Google expertise. Also, very little is discussed about the American internment camps for the Japanese-Americans. The documentaries are also quite puzzling, with their grand statements. What stuck out most was a PBS documentary on Aushwitz saying it was the largest mass murder site in the world. This made me do a double take, mostly in part that I knew mass murder is defined as a one event that kills many. Such as the case of Jones’ cult, and the mass poisoning and murder of many of its’ members. Holocaust was a slow, and most likely excruciating, process of elimination. Secondly, if one compared numbers of Indigenous populations killed (and subsequently effected from disease) solely from De Soto’s journey in America, the numbers outweigh just the Jewish population’s death tolls. Which, I might add, are often lumped with the total killings done by camps, and not to mention intersectionality (i.e: a gay Jewish individual).
Many of the books are also published by the Holocaust Remembrance groups, museums, and other centers. I find it peculiar that there are really no museums dedicated to Washington’s burning of Iroquois Nation lands, no centers for Wounded Knee I and II that have scholarships for Indigenous youth. There isn’t a pair of hands statue in any city for the Darfur genocide, nor any plaques for the Bosnian and Armenian genocides. I don’t see pink triangle arm bands on display at Holocaust museums, nor do I see pictures of Romani camp raids. Spielberg isn’t making movies about little Indian kids watching their families be killed.
Genocide is still very white-centric, or religious focused. I also think the Holocaust is the most pushed example of genocide because America and European powers can be like “Look! See, something we didn’t really do [but encouraged/sparked the idea for], and we did something good, right? We gave them Israel in the end! Yaaaaay us!”. In all other examples of genocide, America or other first world countries are the main causes of said genocide, or are dragging their feet in response to it. Genocide is also proposed to be a “far away”, “barbaric” idea; something that doesn’t exist in our modern, 21st century world. Genocide is also not a concept that can be contextualized to fit a standardized test, and is often thrown out of textbooks (even though Thanksgiving is still taught in American K-12 texts). Many complained via facebook and twitter about some elderly individuals being charged with nazi war crimes, as if genocide has a statute of limitations. Complaints of “it’s been over 100 years now!”, “when will Jews stop?” and other genocide-apologist and anti-Semitic remarks continued to flood my own windows.
How is one to combat this mass amnesia regarding genocide? I’d argue that us peoples effected (and still effected by) genocide should start at home, teaching our next generations. Others write, blog, or speak at secondary schools to small hubs of students seeking extra credit from their professors. I’d like to open the floor up for commenters/readers to share their ideas on how can one fight this.
This is so important.
Do you know how many schools teach the genocide the American government practiced on Natives? How many schools detail the Indian Boarding Schools, the Wounded Knee Massacre, the burning of Native lands? You tell me, because I know my school sure didn’t. The most we got was a glance at the Trail of Tears (I think we spent one day, maybe two, on it, and my teacher said that just because Jackson was behind it, it didn’t mean he was a Bad Man—after all, hadn’t he adopted a Native boy?). I am honestly not even sure if I would know about these if I wasn’t Native; my non-Native friends sure as hell don’t know anything beyond the fact that they happened and that they were Bad.
This is something that needs to be fixed.