I’m sorry that I missed Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, April 24th. It’s usually very difficult for me to miss it, since I spend a lot of time in Glendale, CA—a city which has a high percentage of citizens who are of Armenian descent. But I was at home most of the day, caught up in my own life and its issues.
A site which I read often posted a photo which was emblematic of what Turkey was trying to achieve when that country, under the agency of the then-nearly dead Ottoman Empire, attempted to wipe out the Armenians. If you’ve never seen any of this particular genocide’s photographic evidence, consider this fair warning.
A granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors tries to detect the pattern of how genocides begin.
Perhaps most important to a genocidal plan is neutralizing any possible support for the victims. The Ottoman government maintained a well-coordinated propaganda campaign that vilified the Armenians in the eyes of their Turkish neighbors. In like manner, the Jews were demonized among their neighbors in Nazi Germany.
This sort of thing happens in all mass killings, including those done for reasons other than ethnicity. For example, in Stalinist Russia, several million peasant farmers in the Ukraine were deliberately starved to death in the winter of 1932-33 in what is known as the Holodomor. Soviet propaganda demonized these people, known as “kulaks,” as enemies of the people because they resisted the forced collectivization of agriculture, i.e., the confiscation of their farms. In Rwanda, Hutu propaganda vilified and scapegoated the Tutsis, often through radio, priming the popular mindset for the mass slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis during a 100-day period in 1994. The list of “final solutions” goes on and on.
Information warfare through a centrally controlled media is key to turning neighbor against neighbor. It plays a huge role in caricaturing perceived enemies and growing an us-versus-them mindset. In short, propaganda that psychologically manipulates a population is key to laying the groundwork for extreme social polarization, and ultimately for genocide.
About information: I’ve long postulated that too many people think that the quantity of information is was makes a person intelligent and knowledgeable. I vehemently disagree. It is the ability to analyze information that determines the existence of these personal qualities.
In short, it’s all about the existence and regular calibration of one’s BS detector.
And pride vs. humility, and tribalism vs. reasoning. And the visions of human fallibility vs. the vision of human perfectibility. And…
Sin. I don’t want to forget that.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on April 2017! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.
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