Thursday, September 23, 2004

call it what you will

marisa katz in the new republic with an outstanding piece about Sudan and the empty rhetoric surrounding the ‘genocide’ label. The book by samantha power which she cites is incredible, mainly for its illustration of the notion that genocide is significantly more commonplace in recent history than one might assume, but also for the subtext – that the definition and use of the actual word has dominated the public debate on the subject. As katz notes, arguing interminably about the meaning and applications of the label is laughable if that label has no implications or consequences.

And so it comes to this: Unless the United States, the European Union, and the rest of the United Nations start to see past their legal responsibilities and accept their moral ones, Khartoum could be just the first government to take such a blasé attitude about accusations of genocide. And saying the word will be just as cowardly as not saying anything at all.

- LH


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