5 LESSONS WE SHOULD LEARN FROM THE HISTORY OF GENOCIDE
Genocide wasn’t left in the history books, it’s alive and kicking in the twentieth century.
The question is: why HAVE we not learnt from our mistakes?
LESSON 2 DO NOT BE PASSIVE There is always the debate about whether if by doing nothing when you see injustice you are as guilty as the person who is perpetrating evil. It’s a hard one, perhaps you feel like you couldn’t do anything? Maybe, you are scared about how you appear to your peers? Perhaps, you feel like you would put yourself in danger by stopping something? These are all valid reasons why humans tend not to speak out. But, in the context of genocide, how is this in anyway relevant?
When faced by situations you feel uncomfortable in it is always the easiest option to say that what is happening is wrong and walk away. It’s much harder to actually try and STAND up (pardon the pun) and say enough is enough. Passiveness can often be complicity; if you hold the power to stop something then you should.
If we hark back to the Holocaust, one of the worst examples of genocide ever in human history, the truth is that it was highly probable that if the population, in the face of anti-Semitism, collectively came together in protest, then a genocide may not have occurred. As I discussed in my previous article, there are warning signs for every genocide: classification and segregation. When we see a race, religion or minority being discriminated against, as a society it is important to tackle it head on. Collective action, is therefore perhaps the most effective tool against discrimination; a large mass of voices all collectively saying, we will NOT support your agenda of hate.
The lack of support shown to the Jewish community from the rest of the world during the Holocaust is surprising. When we look back at the period of time in which Jews were persecuted, there was still not much anguish and descent towards anti-Semitism. For example: Rothermere I, owner of the Daily Mail in the 1930’s, was openly anti Semitic and his paper shaped the views of our general populous.
Below is a collage of Daily Mail articles: one calling for Britain to support Facism, the other vilifying refugee German Jews and a picture of the Rothermere I and Hitler meeting. One thing this indicates is that whilst in hindsight we like to think we stand up to genocide and human right’s abuses, the truth is that all too often we only care when it threatens us, in fact the worldwide community seem to have openly been okay with what was happening to Jews, and showed no sign of protesting against their awful treatment in the 1930’s.
We need to learn from our silence in the 1930’s, we need to challenge articles about refugees from right wing papers, we need to challenge our politicians to address human rights abuses in Syria, Burma, Yemen and countless other places. We need to show support for refugees and absolutely zero tolerance towards those who seek to divide a nation and persecute a race, religion or minority. If we do this when we see the earlier signs of human rights abuses genocide could be avoided. It is easy to voice your concerns to your local MP, support charities such as STAND UK or raise awareness in your universities. I urge you to carefully consider whether you want to remain passive when observing injustice or whether you want to be on the right side of history; it is your choice.
It is time to stand against, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Surely, we need to look back at history and understand how crises appear, only then can we look at modern issues and prevent them. It is time we learnt from history.
This blog post was written by one of STAND UK's Communications Task Force members, Finlay Turner-Berry, who studies Politics and Social Policy at the University of Bristol.