The Twentieth Century has been described
as the "century of genocides."
However, "there are considerable disagreements
among experts concerning whether a specific complex
of behaviours merits the designation genocide[.]"
(Genocide: Definitions and Controversies http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/gendef.htm).
For example, in Rwanda and Genocide In The Twentieth
Century, by Alain Destexhe with a foreword by William
Shawcross (reproduced at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/rwanda/reports/dsetexhe.html)
it is argued that "there have really only been
three genuine examples of genocide during the course
of the twentieth century: that of the Armenians by
the Young Turks in 1915, that of the Jews and Gypsies
by the Nazis and, in 1994, that of the Tutsis by the
Hutu racists." In contrast, in a submission to
the United Nations, others have argued that the Rwanda
killings were not genocide. See "WHY THE RWANDAN
WAR WAS NOT GENOCIDE" http://www.africa2000.com/indx/rwanda2.htm
One source of this disagreement might be a certain
intellectual sloppiness in regard to the use of the
term, "genocide." For example, William Shawcross
argues at length:
|"[T]he word genocide [has
fallen] victim to a sort of verbal inflation,
in much the same as happened with the word fascist.
It has been applied freely and indiscriminately
to groups as diverse as the blacks of South Africa,
Palestinians and women, as well as in reference
to animals, abortion, famines and widespread malnutrition,
and to many other situations. The term genocide
has progressively lost its initial meaning and
is becoming dangerously commonplace. In order
to shock people and gain their attention to contemporary
situations of violence or injustice by making
comparisons with murder on the greatest scale
known in this century, 'genocide' has been used
as synonymous with massacre, oppression and repression,
overlooking that what lies behind the image it
evokes is the attempted annihilation of the entire
Jewish race. . . .
The inevitable consequences of such misuse of language
are a loss of meaning and a distortion of values"
From RWANDA AND GENOCIDE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
by Alain Destexhe with a foreword by William Shawcross
(reproduced at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/rwanda/reports/dsetexhe.html).
Indeed, even those who expressly define "genocide"
do not agree on a definition. For example, Encyclopedia
Britannica defines "genocide" as "the
deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial,
religious, political, or ethnic group." (www.britannica.com),
while others have defined it as "the organized
killing of a people for the express purpose of putting
an end to their collective existence." Armenian
and the Convention On The Prevention And Punishment
Of The Crime Of Genocide defines "genocide"
as: "any of the following acts committed with
intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such
:(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members
of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions
of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction
in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births
within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group
to another group."