Why should we care about genocide here in the US? I’m often asked this question. Besides the obvious, that we should care about people being killed, there are a couple of reasons we should care at the local level.
One reason is that we are all part of the global community, for better or for worse. Like it or not, the success of our country depends upon the stability of the global community. When we allow genocide to happen, we endanger the global community, and ultimately perhaps even our own security.
Perhaps a more visceral reason that is easier to relate to has to do with Gregory Stanton’s ten stages of genocide. This includes putting people into “us” and “them” categories, discrimination against certain groups, and dehumanization of those groups. Dehumanization can be as simple as calling members of a group “vermin” or talking about “infestations.” Tutsi were called “cockroaches” by the Hutu for example. Here in the US, there are plenty of examples of terms such as these being used to refer to immigrants and religious minorities. Whatever your political leanings, nobody deserves to be dehumanized.
Polarization is another feature of Stanton’s stages of genocide. There can be no doubt that the US is becoming increasingly polarized. This checks off five of the ten stages of genocide. Other scholars have looked at risk factors that are similar. James Waller, a Holocaust and genocide scholar has written that in the current climate in the US, the risk of genocide is elevated. That does not mean that it is guaranteed to happen, but it means that we need to be vigilant and take action to prevent a further slide down the road to genocide.
Prevention of genocide is complex, but it starts at the local level. Get to know people you might not otherwise talk to. It is much harder to demonize a group when you have a face, name, and a story to go with members of that group.
Why am I telling you this? Because the Center has an amazing opportunity to learn and to grow our network, but we can’t do it without your help. Binghamton University in New York is hosting the second annual genocide conference called Frontiers in Prevention II. Professionals from across the globe will be there to discuss how best to prevent genocide. Three of our staff are submitting proposals to present papers at the conference. This will give the prevention community a chance to get to know us and for us to get to know members of the prevention community. This can only make our work more effective in the long run. However, we need $3,000 for all of us to attend the conference. Your donation will pay for travel and conference expenses. Every little bit makes a difference. Even $10 can go a long way to helping. Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and Facebook will match all donations. You can find our Facebook fundraiser here. If you prefer not to donate through Facebook, you can donate directly on our website’s donation page through Paypal.