America’s Secret Role in the Rwandan Genocide by Helen Epstein

First impression of this article after reading it: nothing new or interesting that has total life-changing implications for my perspective of the genocide. As I was reading this article, I kept waiting and waiting for that earthshaking, life-changing, head-exploding moment when my view on the Rwandan Genocide was forever changed, but alas, that moment never came. I feel as though Epstein was arguing this topic of the sake of arguing. As if no one knew that the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) had invaded Rwandan in the 1990’s and was being funded by the Ugandan government, which was propped up by the United States? The United States does this all the time. None of this secret intervention on the part of the U.S. was as major to the genocide as the Hamitic myth propagated by Speke which indoctrinated Hutu inferiority and stoked the flames of violence against the Tutsi.

Continuing on that point, even if the RPF and its sponsors made the water simmer through its actions, including the most likely RPF led shoot-down of Habyarimana’s plane, the actions of Habyarimana and later Hutu extremists brought it to a boil. The shoot down could have led to an increase in the fighting between the RPF and the FAR, but because of homicidal anti-Tutsi propaganda allowed to roam free in Habyarima’s regime in the form of Kangura, Radio Rwanda, and the Hutu ten commandments and the aforementioned Hamitic myth which based out the Hutu Manifesto, hatred and vitriol trickled down into the mass Hutu population and fermented it to a point where any large earth-shaking action, such as the assassination of a president and his cabinet would have caused ugly evil to explode into senseless killing.

Epstein also tries to paint the RPF’s inaction as the genocide was occurring as unique to the RPF and indicative of the its indifference to the internal Rwandan conflict because they were Ugandan raised Rwandan Tutsi instead of native born Rwandan Tutsi and thus mostly concerned with establishing a Ugandan puppet state. I would counter Epstein’s point by stating that the Allies—which includes the U.S.—were concerned with defeating the Axis and wider fascism before liberating the Nazi death camps and they had shitloads of information demonstrating that Germany was gassing, shooting and working to death Jews all over Eastern Europe and still chose to do nothing, it was barely a priority to them.

My professor told me to post my questions so that’s what I’m going to do from now on, don’t judge me:

Who is more reliable in their account of the Rwandan Genocide, Gourevitch or Epstein? Explain.

Compare/Contrast the international community’s response to Rwanda and the Holocaust? Has anything changed? Explain.

Do Gourevitch’s and Epstein’s different purposes for writing affect the biases presented in their respective pieces? Explain how.

To read the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/sep/12/americas-secret-role-in-the-rwandan-genocide

here’s the Hutu Manifesto, it’s in French, so put it into to Google Translate or something

http://jkanya.free.fr/manifestebahutu240357.pdf

Leave a Reply