An interesting perspective. The boys and I were talking about Biden's decision to label the massacre of the Armenian Christians a genocide. As I said, I think he was right to do this. But the point was brought up - was it right for that one word to be that important?
That is, notice how everything hung on whether or not a single word was applied to this or not. Not that hanging things on a single word isn't important. That's why we have the right to happiness and not property in the Declaration of Independence. Because haggling over words matters.
But what is it that says calling it genocide makes it somehow more important, or worse, than simply a massacre of over a million human beings? Is that good that we are told being a genocide, meaning there was a particular reason a million humans were killed, is the important thing?
From there, the boys mused about hate crimes and racist crimes and cop killings. They noted that mentality is there in those phrases, in smaller form. In fact, hate crime is merely for individuals what genocide is for larger groups. It's an alarm bell to say 'this killing is in fact worse than that killing', while 'this massacre is worse than that one over there because it was a genocide' is, apparently, proper thinking.
Words do matter. It might also matter why words matter, and that some words matter may not be a good thing. If we're by some stealth manner beginning to sanction the idea, once again, that the killing of certain people is worse than the killing of others, perhaps we're going in the wrong direction.
How did BLM become a thing? Because we decided it's worse if some Americans are killed by police than other Americans killed by police. How? Because we needed the word - racist- attached to make it worse. From there, we now know that to say All Lives Matter can only be a racist tactic, and most certainly wrong. This goes a long way toward suggesting, however subtly, that it isn't as bad when those others are killed by the police. Or that millions of Ukrainians killed isn't as bad because it isn't a real genocide like the Holocaust. Which might be why everyone in the world knows of the Holocaust, and so few know of the Holodomor (which, unlike Holocaust, trips a spelling error here on Blogger).
To play pedantic, that's always been the case. Our laws have long had different degrees of murder, which are all worse than manslaughter. Just because some people want to abuse the gradation of evil (in things such as hate crimes) doesn't mean we throw the whole thing out.ReplyDelete
I quite agree with you on the holodomor too. I think I've heard before some people trying to classify it as a genocide but I'd have to go digging around for it. But like you said, even if it wasn't - so what? I too am troubled by the fact that people nowadays don't seem to acknowledge something unless it's the most evil thing ever. As if murder were ok as long as you weren't racist about it.
Oh, I realize that. As I said, it isn't as if words don't matter. They do. But sometimes it matters why words matter, or certain ones. What is it about the word genocide that is so crucial to deciding 'now it's really bad.' And that's the point. Somehow it's as if we can now say it was a really bad thing, as opposed to before when it was only a mass killing of over a million people. Something about that seems to be the same mentality that we have with hate crimes and hate crime terminology. And we see where that is getting us.Delete
Indeed words matter; they're not just "a thing of the air". Words are linked to our thoughts and our thoughts are linked to our actions.ReplyDelete
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Jn 1:14
I agree. I just think it's also worth asking why certain words matter, or why certain words seem to make things that should matter suddenly matter more.Delete
I don't even use the term "Genocide," anymore. It's too open for interpretation. Murder is murder, I don't care what the motive was.ReplyDelete
Some have argued that, in the most technical sense of the word, we're now witnessing a genocide against the European West. That is, we've concluded anything and everything to do with a particular people needs eliminated. That, in at least one sense, would qualify. Though I won't hold my breath for people to pick it up and run with it any time soon. And who knows? Maybe that's a good thing, as you say.Delete