Man's predilection for genocide persists
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-04-07

Documentaries, especially those that are produced by organizations like the BBC, PBS and CNN, are prepared with painstaking research — tapping renowned experts as resource persons. Well-prepared documentaries provide invaluable context, insights and perspectives to various issues and events that affect people’s lives.

Your Chair Wrecker is an avid watcher of documentaries, especially those that delve on historical events. If only Filipinos watched less entertainment, these documentaries could bridge our Information Gap.

The CNN “Amanpour Presents” documentary on GENOCIDE (“Scream Bloody Murder”) was very moving as well as enlightening. CNN Senior Correspondent Christiane Amanpour made a masterful presentation of the various genocides that occurred in the 20th century and how the major powers (and the UN after 1946) did nothing or did too little and too late to stop it.

The Turkish genocide of Armenians, the Nazi genocide of Jews, the Iraqi genocide of Kurds, the Rwandan genocide of Tutsi tribesmen, the Khmer Rouge genocide of Cambodians and the Serb genocide of Bosnians are 20th century crimes against humanity that were all captured on film.

The term GENOCIDE was coined by a Polish Jew named Raphael Lemkin whose family perished in the Nazi Holocaust. By combining the Greek word for race — genos — and the Latin word for killing — cide — Lemkin came up with the term GENOCIDE.

By no means did GENOCIDE exist only after Lemkin coined the term. Genocide was registered all over the Bible’s Old Testament. Many history scholars have found these so-called ‘orders of God’ to wipe out entire races to be fraudulent entries made by the ancient Israelites.

A superb documentary that aired last year in the Australia Network (“Bible Mysteries”) delved a lot on these ‘PR spins’ that we can find in the Old Testament. Indeed, one wonders if the God that Jesus Christ taught us - a loving and forgiving Father - can be that God in the Old Testament that “ordered” genocide.

God can’t be schizophrenic. More likely those Old Testament passages are attempts to justify the abhorrent acts of genocide — no different from Hitler’s use of his ‘Aryan superior race’ thesis as justification for the Holocaust.

Just look at the following passages from the Old Testament:

Joshua 6, 17

“The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout!” For the LORD has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted] to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.”

Samuel 15

“Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Deuteronomy 7

“When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

Deuteronomy 20, 16-17

“However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you.”

What was most damning in Amanpour’s documentary was the fact that many of the 20th century genocides were committed with the major powers looking the other way or with the UN unable to act soon enough.

Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel aptly commented that the major powers plunged into World War I over the assassination of one Austrian Archduke but will not lift a finger to save an entire race from genocide.

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