Genocide is a word that I find myself having to use far too often when discussing current events. Now, I’m a genocide studies scholar who has published a book and is currently working on another on how genocide is represented in popular media, so I write about genocide for a living. Usually I’m writing about fictional worlds or about history. Too often these days I have to write about things that are currently happening in the US. So in the interest of transparency and simplicity, I’m going to list everything that is currently happening that is genocide or genocidal in the US (that I can find or think of). Each incident will be supported with news sources detailing the events or words that are being referenced.
The first thing we have to do is to discuss the Convention for the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Genocide is any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in part or in whole, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
1. Destroying members of the group.
2. Causing severe mental or bodily harm to members of the group.
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Genocide is also not the only crime which the CPPCG. There’s also: conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, complicity in genocide.
We’re almost ready to get to our list, but before that we have one last bit of foundation to lay. The Pyramid of Hate was created by the Anti-Defamation League in 2005. It’s a phenomenally useful tool for genocide awareness and prevention. It contains five levels.
1. Bias – Stereotyping, jokes based around a particular -ism, microagressions, non-inclusive language
2. Acts of Bias – Ridicule, Slurs, Dehumanization
3. Discrimination – Economic, educational, political, employment, segregation
4. Bias Motivated Violence – Murder, rape, assault, arson, terrorism, vandalism, threats
Now that we’ve laid our foundation, we can build a list on it.
The first thing we’re going to touch on is the separation of undocumented immigrants from their children. As most of you are likely aware, back in April Trump enacted a new policy which would separate all families crossing the border illegally. This meant that children would be separated from their family and that both would be detained separately from each other. Technically this policy was reversed in June except when the child might be in danger from not being separated. What constitutes a danger is at the discretion of the government, so many families are still separated, often under the guise of the children “being given a bath”. At one point in September nearly 13,000 migrant children were moved, during the middle of the night, to a tent city in the middle of the Texas desert. Photos of those camps can be found in the article linked above. It looks a lot like a concentration camp. Within those facilities and tents, migrant children are kept in cages.
Children are being separated from their parents and kept in cages. CHILDREN ARE BEING KEPT IN CAGES. Any and all actions that segregate people in this way falls on the third level of the Pyramid of Hate, the fact that these facilities so closely resemble concentration camps, and were compared to internment camps by former First Lady Laura Bush should be enough to cause riots in the street. This doesn’t even account for the migrant children who were just lost back in April and again in September. 1, 475 children back in April and 1,500 more in September. Nearly 3,000 children just fucking gone. Torn from their parents, locked in cages, and then just disappeared. This smells more and more like genocide with every word I type.
It gets worse though, the government has to find something to do with the children that they haven’t vanished like a shitty murderous magician. So after stealing children from their parents, they are illegally removing custody of the children from their parents and adopting them out to other families. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group, is literally one of the definitions of genocide. The US government is committing genocide against undocumented migrants from Mexico by stealing their children, and just fucking giving them away to another family, without ever telling the parents what they did. If this was the only thing on the list it would be bad enough, but we’re not through yet.
The Trump Administration has never had a good policy with regards to LGBT rights. Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate. Mike Pence has a long history of being virulently anti-LGBT, within hours of the two of them being sworn in all mention of LGBT issues were removed from the White House website. In addition to this many of the people in Trumps Administration have a long history of being anti-LGBT. This litany of individuals who have been trying, for years, to prevent or rollback legal protections of LGBT individuals paints a picture of prejudice and discrimination that cannot be ignored. Most recently we have to discuss the attempt by the Trump administration to define transgender people out of existence. The Trump Administration is seeking to narrowly define gender as being exclusively male or female and being unchangeable from birth. This policy, if enacted, would, legally, wipe transgender people out of existence, forcing them to exist within this world as a gender they simply aren’t. Gender is not a binary and the erasure of trans identities is a massive problem within our society. This policy would erase every single transgender person from existence. It would be a single complete cultural genocide in one go. According to the Movement Advancement Project, 36 of 50 US states still allow conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific, and absolutely genocidal idea that you can ‘convert’ people away from being gay. Often with the use of electric shocks. Conversion therapy is genocide. It is an attempt to destroy the LGBT community as a distinct entity. The fact that there are so many states that don’t outright ban it indicates the utter lack of respect and consideration that our country has for LGBT people.
We’ve gotten two genocides deep into this list and we’re not done with it yet. This country was founded on the oppression of those people who were not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Our first genocide was of the indigenous Americans who we displaced in order to create our own “bastion of freedom and equality”. This genocide has not ceased even unto this day. From First Contact, through the Trail of Tears and the Indian Wars, through Residential Schools and the sterilization of Native American women. These attempts to wipe out either the physical or cultural body of the First Nation have never stopped. Even the Reservations are a form of slow genocide reminiscent of internment camps or other concentration camps. Native Americans have the highest suicide rate across all demographic groups in the US, they also have one of the highest rates of alcoholism of all demographic groups. Both of these statistics can be directly linked to the conditions in reservations, which are likened to those of a third world nation. Many of the conditions on reservations, and many of the ways in which they are managed, are designed to keep Native Americans in a state of poverty. Within the field of genocide studies there is an idea called general intent. General intent is what we call it when, policies might not be specifically be designed to commit genocide, but are resulting in mass deaths of a specific group regardless. Once we can successfully prove that, and those policies continue, genocide is shown. Reservations are a genocidal institution.
That’s not everything we can or need to say about the treatment of Native Americans. The foster care system has a disproportionate number of Native children when compared to the number of white children in the foster care system. In a twisted mirror of the Residential School system, many of those children are being placed in white homes, despite there being placed outside of their communities despite there being relatives, willing and able to adopt them. This abuse of the foster system is nothing more than a continuation of the genocide that has been waged against Natives since Columbus first enslaved the Taino people.
With regards to Native Americans we also have to examine the massive amounts of Native women who are murdered or go missing. We don’t have accurate numbers on how many Native women have been murdered or gone missing in the past few decades because so many of them go unreported. The realities of tribal and federal jurisdiction makes it so that there’s no way to really know who to report these things to. Tribal police are often stretched thin across the sometimes massive reservations, they also often undertained and don’t take missing persons reports seriously.
“It boils down to racism,” he (Ivan MacDonald of the Blackfeet Tribe) argues. “You could sort of tie it into poverty or drug use or some of those factors … (but) the federal government doesn’t really give a crap at the end of the day.”
So many cases of violence against Native women have gone unsolved, which is a clear message that the the US government doesn’t care about the fate of Native women. While the fact of this is terrible and action must be taken, this particular indifference and negligence by the US government does not constitute genocide. Genocide is a daily fact of Native life as their lives and culture are systematically destroyed, but not all racist acts are genocidal.
There was no way that I would write an essay on genocides in the US without discussing the murder of unarmed PoC by police. According to Mapping Police Violence police killed 1,147 people in 2017. 25% of those were Black, despite Black people being only 13% of the population. This statistic shows us a prejudice against Black people that cannot be denied. We need only look at the massive list of unarmed Black men and boys killed by police to see how far the rot has spread through our police force. Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Botham Shem Jean, Tyre King. The list goes on in 2018. So many times those police officers get acquitted of any wrong doing. Some have even had GoFundMe pages started in their honor when they were suspended from duty for their murderous actions. Police violence disproportionately affects Black men, who often have the police called on them for walking down the street, doing their jobs, or entering their own homes, simply because people assume them to be a criminal. And it is so, so likely that a police officer will shoot that Black man without cause or any order to freeze. They will do this because there is no accountability for their actions. The police are supposed to uphold the laws of our land. They are supposed to be the guardians of our legal codes (and hopefully our morality, but those two systems don’t often overlap). They should be more morally upstanding than the average person. The police are supposed to be help to a higher standard than the average person. They took on that burden when they took the job. Yet they are allowed to kill Black men with impunity. These actions, taken by the police, who are government employees, is an attempt to destroy, in part or in whole, the Black community. It must also be pointed out that police violence of this type does not only affect Black men, but crosses the boundaries of all PoC, I have merely focused on Black men for this section due to the overwhelming number of case studies available. This is our fourth genocide.
Many Latinx people living near the US-Mexico border are not being allowed to renew their passports. They are being sent letters by the State Department which indicate that the State Department does not think they are real citizens. This is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in 1938. This action is not genocide itself, but it is a precursor to genocide that should terrify all of you.
The normalization of the alt-Right and Nazis is also a fucking terrible thing. Like when the President called Nazis ‘some very fine people‘. There are no very fine people who are Nazis. Nazis are scum who want to kill anyone who isn’t white. If you, even for a second, defend them, you are also scum. Nazis should get punched. The normalization of them and their ideas is fucking terrifying. It paints genocidal rhetoric as legitimate political positions. I should not have to remind you that Nazis killed 12 million people during the Holocaust. Painting them as a legitimate part of the political spectrum is only going to kill people.
Going along with that, the increasing fetishization of centrism is also going to kill people by calling for compromise between the Left and actual goddamn Nazis.
And we absolutely cannot ignore the increasing attacks by the President on the left wing, wherein he likens the Democrats to arsonists, calls them an angry mob, says they are too extreme and too dangerous to govern. This demonization of his political opponents and calls to keep them from governing reminds me so much of Nazi rhetoric against the communists during the 30s. Trump is laying the stage to eventually make himself President for Life. Which should surprise no one considering the world leaders he’s buddied up to. Political parties are not a protected class in genocides because they are not a stable or permanent group, but this type of language and violent, divisive rhetoric being launched at opponents of the President is something that easily leads to fascist dictatorships and genocides in the future.
Along these lines we cannot ignore the attacks that the President is launching against the media. One day after a bomb was sent to CNN (along with several other liberal people or organizations) Trump called the media “the enemy of the people“. This is not a tact that Trump has taken solely with the news media. He has continued his attacks on prominent Democrats as well, many of whom were also sent bombs. One of the largest acts of domestic terrorism on American soil since 9/11 and the President continues to childishly attack his political opponents, increasing the aura of hate that he is casting upon this country ad his supporters. By doing this Trump has made it more likely that other attacks like this may occur in the future.
There will likely be some events that I missed, and doubtless there will be other events that will happen in the future that will need to be added. This article will be kept updated to the best of my ability, in an effort to reflect the truly dangerous political climate we find ourselves in. We are not in the beginning stages of fascism and genocide. We are up to our eyeballs in the never ending shitstorm of history. These days will be remembered as some of our darkest. Please vote. Do everything that you can to protect your marginalized friends. Use your privilege to defend them. And get ready for a revolution. Sure as shit this doesn’t end without one.