Friday, May 29, 2015

is genocide human nature?

yourdosage |  To some extent, a bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences (3).

So, is the human’s inclination to form irrational biases an unavoidable biological characteristic of the human race? We are born with an innate ability to discriminate, and genocide is, it can logically be argued, a consequence of such biological predispositions. We identify a difference, say the varying width of a nose, and cling to those similar to ourselves while alienating the other group. In Rwanda, when Europeans introduced differing Rwandan “ethnicities” based on barely differing physical characteristics, the Rwandans were receptive. Why would a nation of people allow outsiders to introduce ideas that divide their society? It seems strange and a bit too simplistic to blame it solely on conformist values. Rwandans’ conformity played a large role in causing the genocide, but I also believe that it is human nature to discriminate. It is undeniable because as time goes on, genocide has not disappeared from society’s landscape. If there were not some biological cause, all types of discrimination would have disappeared years ago, as we would learn from our mistakes. Genocide’s continual occurrence in history can be attributed to the human desire to distinguish between “us and them” and an innate need to punish the different.

In Zistel’s “Remembering to Forget” she identifies “chosen amnesia” as a result of the Rwandan genocide. Chosen amnesia is the conscious decision of Rwandans, both Hutu and Tutsi, to forget the causes of the genocide. All too recent memories of war and genocide ware on the minds of all Rwandans, many of whom were soldiers and victims themselves; therefore, chosen amnesia seems to be the only “strategy to cope with living in proximity to ‘killers’ or ‘traitors’”(132). They must rely on each other regardless of Hutu of Tutsi affiliation because their home has been destroyed by war. In the wake of mass destruction and widespread death, it has become extremely difficult for any Rwandan to access necessary resources, such as food and water. Rwandans have indicated through their ability to conveniently “forget” the many crimes committed against humanity that their will to survive is stronger than the hatred contained in their hearts. The lingering problems plaguing Rwanda, such as trauma, depression, and HIV/AIDS, affect all Rwandans, not one specific group. As a result, putting differences aside is a necessary measure for the recovery and survival of Rwanda. Thus, the tensions leading up to the genocide were forgotten in hopes for peaceful coexistence. Although the intentions are ultimately good, chosen amnesia impairs Rwanda’s chances for full recovery and enables similar situations to arise in the future.


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