Genocide Is Never Permissible

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One of many memorials to genocide – the Armenian Genocide Memorial.

War is horrendous and unspeakably tragic.  Those living in Western society have been fortunate enough, for the most part, to not have lived through any degree of violence akin to what one might see in war.  There was an Opinion piece from The Times of Israel that was removed rather quickly from the newspaper’s site, and with good reason.  The blogger, Yochanan Gordon, asked whether or not genocide would be permissible if it meant a sustainable quiet, to use Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s terminology, could be achieved.

The post was quickly removed, doubtless because of the controversy it continues to stir.  While everyone can appreciate that tensions are incredibly high throughout the area, and no one would ever want to live through a conflict, to suggest that genocide is permissible is as terrible as the conflict itself.  It also points to how deep the seeds of hatred can dig.

Genocide is defined as the mass slaughter of a race of people in order to ensure that race’s extinction.  The Holocaust of World War II, for instance, is discussed in most high school history classes, while activists of today are working towards trying to eliminate the alleged genocide in Sudan.  To suggest that genocide is permissible suddenly seems to make it all right that the millions of people that have died in the name of hatred met a horrific end.

Life is sacred.  Unfortunately, due to the conflicts that are experienced by several regions throughout the Middle East, part of Africa and part of Asia, the value of life may not seem to be as high as it is considered to be in North America.  The difficulty lies in the fact that, once the killing starts, after a while no one knows who is truly right or wrong.  Lost lives come to be known as collateral damage in the name of the cause being fought for.  Instead of being thought of as living individuals with children and rights and beliefs, those who are inadvertent victims of the conflicts throughout the world end up becoming faceless numbers.  Desensitization takes hold, and more lives are lost.

Everyone has a right to life.  Without adopting a philosophy that questions why we all just can’t get along, it is important to recognize that people will disagree about all kinds of issues.  These disagreements start at the lowest level, where one child takes another’s beloved toy away.  Now, the battles are being fought on religious grounds or on differences in political ideology.  Regardless of the reason why the conflict occurs, it needs to be recognized that a national struggle that spills across borders and becomes international should not become a violent one.  Mass members of a race do not need to be destroyed as though they were insects and a nuisance to the national way of life.

There is no circumstance in which genocide would be permissible.  That condones murder, and if politicians are serious about ending the rampant violence that sweeps across nations, the mass killing needs to stop, not suddenly be condoned.  War is a terrible destroyer of many things, but human dignity does not have to be one of the values to be sacrificed.  Mass murder, whether the term genocide is used or not, should never occur.

Opinion by Christina St-Jean