1. Hydraphantom
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    Hydraphantom Member

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    When does genocide become unacceptable?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Hydraphantom, Jun 6, 2016.

    I was thinking to add a ethnic-purge plot into my story, and have realized that. In old days, genocide, religious purge, mass-murder etc are't really an "unacceptable" thing to do as long as it is beneficial (the great inberia barbecue party).

    So what I'm wondering is since when does "cleansing" of a specific type of people becomes the most despicable thing to do in our view?
     
  2. Diane Elgin
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    Diane Elgin Member

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    Violence carries more negative practical and conscience consequences for the average person so as a collective, we prefer to live and let live. For the great tragedies of war to be perpetrated we need propaganda machinery, great swathes of untruths to portray our opponent as less than human before we accept their eradication as socially acceptable. They have to be a threat to our homeland, our culture and our very lives in the same way we are to them. If there's any doubt that the group you're targeting are inhuman monsters bent on your eradication (which there always is, even if it's in dissent), then your war crimes are going to be seen as despicable by at least someone. There is no situation where the eradication of an entire group of people is seen universally as a good thing.
     
  3. Hydraphantom
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    Hydraphantom Member

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    Thank you for your reply, I am not saying that eradication can be seen as a good thing, that would be horrible. But I am wondering if a purge could somehow be justified and won't cause a massive hit to international reputation of the nation which carries out the purge. The group I was planning for purge are a ethnic-minority between the border of our nation and an ally nation, due to the rising of nationalism they have been causing alot of troble to national stability.
     
  4. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    It hasn't to everyone. We have americans flouting a "kill them or convert them" mentality when talking about the middle east.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think @Diane Elgin is close to the mark. If you are looking for the historical point, then it's when communication becomes easier between people. Mass communication (in modern terms, think radio, TV, movies, internet) makes things hard to hide and terrible things hard not to think about and be aware of. In America, most famously, the Vietnam war was engaged by the American people differently than any other war that had come before, because this was the first war were the average American had a television in their house and where there was reporting directly from the warfront. There was war reporting during the Korean war too, but televisions were still not common enough. During Vietnam, everyone had a TV and everyone could see. This made Americans at home know that war is an atrocity.

    So, I would say that for your story, if you want this ethnic cleansing to happen without the rest of the people rising in revolt over how horrible this is, it needs to be set in a time/situation where the cleansing is something that happens "far away", "over there", where the people don't have to actually engage the reality of what is taking place, or where they are kept from engaging it and having good information. Add to this what @Diane Elgin said, a propagande machine that demonizes those who are being ethnically cleansed.
     
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  6. Diane Elgin
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    Diane Elgin Member

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    I don't think you ever could justify it in the manner you're describing. You could make a really strong case for it, even going as far as 'They're planning a genocide too. It's us or them.', but when you start hurting people who may not be involved in what their leaders are doing, you're going to have proponents of peace denouncing people for their actions. In Hitler's Germany, there were many within his nation who thought what the Nazi government were doing was wrong and fought back against them. The British annihilation of Dresden was at the time questioned as a legitimate war tactic and to this day is seen as a tragedy, despite being committed against a nation who were collectively crushing Europe in tanks and carrying out genocides of their own.
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You could look into how Turkey justifies the Armenian genocide. Granted, their international reputation isn't most pristine because of that, especially considering some recent developments.

    Perhaps more modern examples:

    -I remember an article in the Guardian in March about a so-called genocide of Christians in the Middle East. This isn't something that's splattered all over the news. Perhaps because it is, indeed, so far away.
    -Then there's ISIS attacking the Yazidi.
    -Mass murders and cleansings committed by dictators like Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.

    Reading up on these might give you some ideas.
     
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  8. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    I'd say that genocide was a common practice right up to the twentieth century, and it certainly isn't extinct today. Many (if not most) Americans and Australians feel uncomfortable with their nations' roles in exterminating their indigenous people nowadays, but it's a recent development in the timeline of history. I think it became despicable once we realized what sort of cultural richness we were obliterating in the name of fear and greed. In my more optimistic times, I think maybe that that realization might become more widespread over the globe, and genocide will join slavery on history's trash pile.
     
  9. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. My book deals with, among many other things, the ethnic cleansing of the Xiongnu (Huns) by the Chinese after the Battle of Ilkh Bayan 10 years prior to the setting of my story. After that battle, the Chinese killed 200K, resettled 200K inside China (dispersed) and expelled 200K from north of the Ordos Loop, genocide on quite a modern scope. Just what the Xiongnu did to deserve such treatment is only given by Chinese accounts, for the Xiongnu left no written records, but given that there had been near constant warfare between them for 300 years, I can imagine they were no angels either. The Romans are sheltering with one of the last remaining clans north of the Ordos Loop, getting ready to go 2000 miles to far western Mongolia, and the Romans will travel with them part of the way, safety in numbers. I treat them fairly favorably, victims at least for now. It is clear the Chinese hate them, but if the Xiongnu had the numbers on their side, they would probably gladly return the favor, because they hate the Chinese.
     
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    It probably depends on where and when you're looking at. And there are degrees - for instance I've been looking at the Crusades for my own purposes and you had some really interesting reactions to the "People's Crusade" of 1096 - which was basically a bunch of idiots who decided they couldn't get to the Holy Land during the crusades and figured the next best thing was slaughtering non-Christians (i.e. Jews) at home in Germany. So the weird thing about that one was that a lot of people got swept up in it, especially from the lower classes, but the authorities and especially the institutional Catholic Church (which was actively PROMOTING the Middle Eastern crusades) were appalled and tried to get them to stop. So, there's a lot of layers to that onion, and even at one time in one place, you're going to have some wildly divergent opinions as to what is or isn't allowed (heck, you have wildly divergent opinions on that among people under ISIS control now - wherever something like that is going on, you're going to have people who justify it and people who don't).

    As a sidenote - this becomes a sticky area in fiction because, while your characters might not have hangups about it, your READERS do. So if you write characters who don't judge it, you still want to make sure the authorial voice is aware that it's bad - even if you're in first person, in which case there are ways of triggering the reader that you're toying with their emotions.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  11. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    This depends on how people in the broader world operate. I'm going to take a stab and say no. There will be ramifications

    The one thing that might mitigate that is when you're dealing with an ethnic group that aren't the majority anywhere - like Jews during the Crusades - part of the reason anti-Semitism didn't cause more waves than it did was that there was nowhere that Jews were the majority, no Jewish army, no Jewish nobility, etc. So if you're looking for a model of people getting away with ethnic violence, pre-WWII anti-semitism is your answer.

    Of course, the reason that I said pre-WWII anti-Semitism is that eventually it culminated in something so horrifying that it became impossible to any decent person to ignore the problem. So, eventually, this is always going to come back on you.

    And finally, I would question why you would want to have a genocide without ramifications in a story. Again, the reader needs to know it's wrong even if the characters don't.
     
  12. Hydraphantom
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    I was writing an alternative history about Austrian Empire/Holy Roman Empire in 1850s. After the reconquest of Constantinople from Ottoman, Romania, as vassal of them, has been annexed by our ally Russia. Hungarian nobles in vienna are getting unhappy about the massive amount of ethnic romanian that is causing troubles. So MC, as a high official of Austria, was planning an ethnic-purge of hungarian romanian to ensure the stability in eastern side of the empire and keep hungarian nobles happy. Or at the very lease, exile them to russian romania. (Since there is no Austro-Hungarian compromise, we need to find something else to keep them from leaving the empire.)

    As to why I want to add a genocide into my story, I wish to add some "gray" into the MC's faction instead of been knights in shining armor. This plot are still in early planning though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  13. ArQane
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    ArQane Member

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    "Unacceptable" is a line that may be broken at a certain point. For each person, this line is different. Some immediately disagree while others might never find it wrong at all. Regardless, it really depends of the characters of your novel

    TL;DR Your choice.
     
  14. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    When has genocide ever been considered acceptable? (Don't use the Holocaust and the Nazi Party as a good reason.)

    When you feel the need for a species/race/cultural cleansing, the biggest question that comes to mind is: Why/What is the reasoning for eradication of the party/parties in question?
    Hell even in Warhammer 40K the Chaos doesn't even consider the notion of genocide to their greatest enemy the Imperium of Man, because they need men to convert to Chaos in order for the faction to even exist in the first place (Also it benefits the Demons). So even a something of pure evil can find the flaw of genocide as a means to it's own demise. Just something to think about.

    This is only opinion and should not sway your thoughts on the matter, just give you something to consider. I like a good slaughter as much as the next (and some rather gruesome torture if there is time:supergrin:), but all in good measure and in fair reasoning. Good luck and do what thou will. :)
     
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  15. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Ok. When I found out that Andrew Jackson was being replaced on the $20, I decided to learn more about the man. He lead the genocide of over 16K Cherokee. Americans were fine with it.

    Humans are anthropocentric by nature, our group is the best and everyone else is lesser. I'm white, your black, weird. Well, everyone else around me is white, so there must be something wrong with you. I worship God and you worship the sun? Well, a few hundred years ago one of our people actually talked to go, so you must be wrong. Humans are dumb, we weren't born civilized and we aren't fully there yet.
     
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  16. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, so I like alt-hist games a lot. I've had some serious fun in that space. However, they key to doing those is taking the ramifications into account. Adding ethnic carnage to an Alt-History can be workable, and frankly it's also realistic. However, the key thing is to USE the ramifications rather than trying to fix them.

    You want to purge a bunch of ethnic Romanians from a Hungarian space? Okay. I can see that happening, especially since Hungarians are Catholic and Romanians are (mostly) Orthodox - minor religious differences are always a great excuse for wanton slaughter, right? However - the key to this is that, while it might achieve it's short term "goals" (ensuring Hungarian dominance in the region and removing a bunch of "potentially volatile" ethnic minorities), it's going to create a SERIOUS wedge between Hungarians and Romanians that's going to linger for at least 100 years. Think Turkey and Armenia. You're going to have lots of tension along the border, deep foreign policy tensions - especially if Romania becomes independent, reprisal attacks on Hungarians in Romania (there are many), maybe even Romanian terrorist groups. That stuff is all horrible, but it's also all good fodder for this type of fiction. Don't minimize it.

    The other thing here is that you might want to look less into "genocide" situations and more into massive "population transfer" situations (which sometimes turn into something looking like genocide). Those happen when a new international border is drawn based on ethnicity, and people who find themselves on the wrong side try to pack up and get to their new "homeland". The classic example of this was when India and Pakistan split - there were tons of Hindus and Sikhs living in the new "Muslim homeland" of Pakistan, and tons of Muslims living in the new "Hindu nation" of India. Everybody's tensions exploded - lots of people were forced out of their homes, and you had a two way flood of Pakistani Sikhs and Hindus into India, and Indian Muslims into Pakistan - which of course led to lots of nationalist violence against the fleeing columns of refugees. There were a lot of "ghost trains" on both sides, where (for instance) a train full of Sikh refugees would pull into a station full of corpses because Muslim nationalist attacked the train before it left Pakistan (and the same would happen in reverse with trains going the other way). Another example of mass population transfer would be the flood of ethnic Germans out of Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII (remember a lot of that land had been German-owned for a long time and had strong German-speaking minorities) - that wasn't as violent but still a lot of people.

    A really good, short work of fiction on one of those events would be the Indian classic "Train to Pakistan" by Khushwant Singh. I highly recommend that to anyone interested in these sorts of events.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you sure that in the "old days", genocide AS genocide was acceptable? For example, the US genocide of Indians/Native Americans wasn't always/entirely sold to the public as such--I don't think that you go to the trouble of pretending to make treaties with people that you're openly murdering. I suspect that the same is true for many historic situations--that the reality was genocide but the public relations was something else.
     
  18. Hydraphantom
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    Thank you very much for your detailed reply! I will see into these problems! And paki/indian problems.
     
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  19. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    I think it's mostly okay as long as its a story and not a guide.

    Mein Kampf doesn't need a sequel. (This is one time my signature quote doesn't apply)

    -- Okay, so i misunderstood the OP, feel free to ignore me :)
     
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  20. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    SMH...:supergrin:
    HPNazi.jpg
     
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  21. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Hey, there's been genocides that have been covered up pretty well. Depending on how well executed, how much control you have of the media, population being exterminated, and location... you could kill a few thousand people without anyone even knowing. I have to agree on the "don't see, don't care" mindset that perpetuates many first world countries. It's hard to sympathize on atrocities when the worse thing that's happened to that person is they lost their job.

    It's all about fear. Fear of those different, fear of the unknown, fear of change. We're all afraid of something and some people take advantage of that.
     
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  22. Moth
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    Moth Active Member

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    Genocide becomes unacceptable the moment a populace's empathy outweighs their loathing or indifference.
     
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