Columns / Discourse / April 23, 2014

When is U.S. intervention warranted? Evaluating an international responsibility

The fact of the matter is people all over the world — including those in the United States — do not understand what a disgrace and outrage a “Holocaust 2.0” would be. The lack of toleration regarding religion within the United States only fuels this unfortunate overlooking; the youth and young adults of today do not realize that modern genocides can and do happen.

If you have heard the rumor that the Ukrainian government circulated a leaflet calling for its Jewish citizens above age 16 to register with the government it is indeed false, but we should, as a nation, take this seriously nonetheless. The fliers still exist, and someone distributed them.

How many young citizens know about the genocide of the Tutsi people in Rwanda in 1994? Many of us currently attending Knox College were born in or around that year. It may sound insane, but in fact, between April and July of 1994, between 500,000 and 1 million Rwandan citizens were killed by, wait for it, other Rwandan citizens of a different ethnicity. Some of the Hutu majority at the time saw the Tutsis as their inferiors; it was not uncommon to refer to the minority group as “cockroaches.”

Though we are currently in the midst of this tragedy’s tenth anniversary, it has not received much press coverage.

In the 1930s and 40s, Hitler had a similar vision of racial supremacy. Hitler’s vision of white supremacy determined Aryans — individuals with blonde hair and blue eyes — created a “master race.” Jews and other citizens across Eastern Europe who did not fit into the guidelines of this imaginary “master race,” in Hitler’s view, needed to be disposed of.

Unfortunately, hints of this catastrophic injustice repeating itself are reappearing in this Russo-Ukrainian conflict, and that is absolutely sickening.

The world must realize that this kind of hatred is disgusting. Just as hating a group of people of their race or for their sex is incredibly senseless, hating a group of people for their religion is perhaps one of the most ignorant kind of closed-minded, foolishness that exists. Unlike race, ethnicity or sex, human beings have the ability to choose their faith. Why should this make faith any more acceptable to hate?

Respect for faith is severely lacking across the world, but especially in the United States. Perhaps this is why many are not taking the Russo-Ukrainian conflict seriously enough. As a practicing Catholic, I am not offended by those who practice religions that differ than mine; rather, I am offended by those who have no regard for my faith, other faiths, religion in itself or the ethnicities and nationalities that surround them.

This is why this Ukrainian scare so deeply offends me, and why I believe, on that now, on the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan conflict, the United States should be paying more attention (to what?). And by “the United States,” I do not mean the government, I mean the civilians.

If some kind of “Holocaust 2.0” is in fact initiated somewhere in the world, I firmly believe that the United States has an ethical obligation to intervene. As a nation that stands for moral, religious freedom it would be hypocritical of us, an extreme injustice to our fellow man, to turn a blind eye to such a horrendous event.

For those arguing that if citizens of the Ukraine — or wherever else this threat may be a reality — really want to survive they should simply surrender their faith, I leave you with this quote, written by a European Jew on a concentration camp wall during World War II: “I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.”


Tags:  holocaust imperialism intervention isolation obligation Russia U.S. ukraine

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