UNESCO once again dutifully commemorated “Holocaust Remembrance Day” on January 27th. The Nazi crimes of 1933-1945 were horrific enough to invent the term “genocide” and bring it into worldwide consciousness. We recall it as a heinous crime that was the worst of its genre.
I say the worst because it was neither the first nor the last time a government would set its sights on exterminating a segment of its population. Throughout history, attempted genocides have not been uncommon.
Within memory of the living are:
the Armenian genocide (of 1920-1925),
the Cambodian genocide (1975-1979),
the Kurdish genocide (1986-1989),
the genocide in Rwanda (1994),
Bosnia (1992-1995), and
intentional mass killings in both Iraq and Syria, which are still in progress as these words are written.
It is no exaggeration to say that sagacious people have written tomes of literature about why such depravity occurs. Whatever your favorite theory, I maintain that there is one common denominator of for all genocidal acts. What characterizes all of them is the perception of defenselessness. Instigators of genocide, whether they are States, hostile religions or hostile races, act only when they perceive their intended victims to be all but helpless. In the annals of history, the only way to guarantee your intended victims are helpless is to deprive them of arms.