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American Passivity: Rwanda Genocide

The Crime of American Passivity

Genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity, and it implies an intention to completely exterminate the chosen group; genocide is therefore the greatest of the crimes against humankind. The massacres that transpired in Rwanda less than four years ago possess every quality attributed to the ramifications of genocide. There, in the clearest case of genocide since Hitler, a vast slaughter occurred which claimed the lives of more that 800,000 Rwandans. This genocide is probably the greatest and gravest crime against humanity in the second half of the twentieth-century; and no group whether foreign or indigenous executed enough force to prevent this from occurring. The United States stood by and watched the horrific events unfold. The Clinton administration, facing what was the clearest case of genocide in 50 years, responded by downplaying the crisis diplomatically and impeding effective intervention by U.N. forces to stop the killing. A great crime against humanity did exist through the individual tortures, rapes, and slaughters of the Rwandans; but, hidden in all of the turmoil and rage, was the crime of passivity and evasion in the United States’ response towards all of the crimes and suffering. One million Rwandan civilians were left for dead, but that could have been significantly reduced with the initial intervention and aide of the U.S. government.

Rwanda has been subjected to a number of historical events that have led up to their genocide. After World War I, they were put under Belgian Trusteeship that imposed a rigid plan of racial classification, dividing the Rwandans into three distinct groups: the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Hutu composed of about 84 percent of the total population in Rwanda, while the Tutsi was 15 percent, and the Twa represented a meager 1- percent of the population. The Belgians’ racist ideals provided a framework for the social classes that would exist in Rwanda. The Tutsi were deemed superior in all aspects in respect to the Hutus and Twa due to their facial features and manner in which they lived and presented themselves. “Their racialization of the political reality was exploited” (McCullum 3). According to the Belgians, they possessed a politeness and greater intelligence that surpassed the levels that were inherent among the other tribes. The “whiteness,” including facial features, behavioral tendencies, and personality,...

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