Problem From Hell, A: Chapter 5

Notes from Chapter 1-3, 4.

Lemkin needs the 20 UN members that voted for the genocide ban in the general assembly to now take that legislation home and ratify it domestically. Many assumed the U.S. would be among the first to ratify (we were among the first to sign the pact).

U.S. grievances to law:

Nature of violence needed to trigger global response not specific enough (law focuses on the intention to wipe out a group/culture – not just numbers or percentage points).

American Bar Association criticized law:

Certain [this] doesn’t mean that if I want to drive 5 Chinamen out of town… that I must have the intent to destroy all teh 400,000,000 Chinese in the world.

These details would be used later to argue intervening in the Cambodia/Khmer Rouge, Iraqi and Bonsian Serb exterminations.

Convention includes bodily harm, sterilizing, removing children – as part of a larger plan of extermination.

Concerns this would apply retroactively to the genocide of Native American tribes in the 19th century. Or even segregation in the South.

1950 U.S. Senate Subcommittee considered rider saying that:

Genocide does not apply to lynchings, race riots or any form of segregation.

Biggest opposition: American sovereignty (amplified by 1950s ‘Red Scare’).

Even though Eisenhower lauded the liberation of Buchenwald – he didn’t choose to put his support behind the convention ratification.

Post-WWII Holocaust was barely discussed (fears of reigniting Anti-Semiticism, Americans uncomfortable with topic of extermination).

1952 Diary of Anne Frank play, then movie (1959), then 1961 Judgement at Nuremberg.

1959 – New York Times uses the word ‘holocaust’ for the first time.

1945 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights eclipsed Lemkin’s campaigning. Some opponents of the genocide convention would try and kill the ratification since the UDHR might cover the genocide legislation.

1959 – Lemkin collapses and dies of a heart attack. 7 people attended his funeral.

Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire takes up gauntlet and begins speaking every day on genocide in Congress – over 22 years – 10,000 speeches (also originated the Golden Fleece awards for worst pork-barrel spending).

1968 Nigeria rages war on Christian Ibo – attempted to seceded – cut off food supply to population. Is starvation a legitimate weapon of war? 1 million people in Nigeria starved to death.

1971 – Pakistani troops kill 1-2 million Bengalis, raping 200,000+ girls/women. Indian invasion halts genocide.

1972- Burundi – Tutsis hunt down and kill 100,000 – 150,000 Hutus (mostly elites). 1,000 dead/per day. No reaction from U.S. for fear of disrupting U.S. relationship with the Tutsi regime.

Proxmire continue his daily soliloquies.






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