It seems we have a pattern of really terrible conclusions to noteworthy books when it comes to assigned readings in this class. Suny, who was piquing my interest in the last two chapters, Genocide and Orphaned Nation, suddenly pissed me off when he categorized the vicious, intentional murders of native populations in Africa, Australia, and the Americas as an “ethnic cleansing”, and thus an action separate from genocide such as the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide. Moreover, Suny claims that the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide had results, “the Armenians never returned to their historic homeland of Anatolia and the Jews, while hardly erased, never reconstituted the vibrant Yiddish culture that had evolved over many centuries…”
Does Suny know that some of the victims from “ethnic cleansing” are not even around today? The Yuki population, a Native American tribe in Southern California that were killed and victimized (raped, pillaged, kidnapped) by U.S. settlers scavenging for gold, is currently just over 100 people (Naimark). The Tasmanian people of Australia were completely eradicated by venereal diseases resulting from the abduction and rape of women, smallpox, typhus, and massacres all perpetrated by/through the Europeans (Naimark). In Cape Town, South Africa, the nomadic hunter-gatherer San tribe was massacred and deliberately and forcibly removed from their land into the desert, where the majority of them died off. Those who survived worked for the “trekboers”—Dutch hunters and were put into an underclass of “coloreds” which created a system of bondage (Naimark, 64). In these examples, the subjected population was thought of by the perpetrators to be less than superior, which in essence made it easier to kill these populations. Furthermore, none of these cultures are as rich as they once were before the genocides, in the case of the Tasmanian peoples and even the Yukis, their political, physical and cultural identities were wiped out almost entirely. These groups have little to no political power, and their culture has been nearly wiped out because the people who practiced it were murdered to the point where their culture was overshadowed by the oppressive mainstream culture that continued to push them out.
Okay, so now that I have expressed my anger, let me put it in a more stable sounding way. I felt that by categorizing the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and the multitude of genocides of the native peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Austrailia, Suny downgraded the severity of these genocides and in this way he showed bias. He was not willing to challenge the status quo, which usually looks at these genocides and then turns away for reasons I do not understand. I’m not going to say it was because he is Armenian because that’s playing the race card and I do not like that when it is done to me, nor doing that to other people.
All that being said, I thought the book was informative and had lots of good information. I only wish that he had not ruined it with a nitpicking conclusion.