Holocaust Remembrance Day
It's time to make, "Never Again" mean something.
For Friday, I’ll focus on something very near and dear to me, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Some important background for me personally, underlies my overwhelming support for those who oppose mass murder and in fact, genocide, actual or cultural, most often both.
In my first long career, as a custom builder in the greater Los Angeles area, I had as family friends and clients, several Holocaust survivors. The tragic privilege to know first-hand, the inhumane actions that other humans are capable of and the progression of hateful propaganda and legal maneuvering, that set the stage for the Holocaust. The imprint of their experiences on my brain, are as indelible as were the tattoos on their arms. I am wholly immersed in the morality of Never Again.
In resuming my military career, post, 9-11, I have seen first-hand, that genocide and lethal, hateful oppression, are still the scourge of humanity, only now more common, despite the haunting repetition of the words, “never again” but only the words. Where are the actions.
There are now, countless NGOs and non-profits working against such hate, but the world refuses to learn from them, or history. Whether it is Xi’s cultural genocide against the Uyghur population and other non-Han Chinese or Myanmar’s brutal genocidal activities against the Rohingya people, Ethiopia’s, Putin’s cultural genocide against his fellow Slavs in Ukraine or any of the others, on a too long list of nations demonstrating the worst of humanity.
Even the UN whose forum I respect, has been relatively useless in diminishing what we said would be, “never again,” post WWII. In 2005, the UN adopted the RtoP or ROP depending on whose interpretation you read. ROP is the “Responsibility to Protect.”
At the 2005 World Summit, all Heads of State and Government affirmed the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The responsibility to protect (commonly referred to as ‘RtoP’) rests upon three pillars of equal standing: the responsibility of each State to protect its populations (pillar I); the responsibility of the international community to assist States in protecting their populations (pillar II); and the responsibility of the international community to protect when a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations (pillar III). The adoption of the principle in 2005 constituted a solemn commitment, which included much expectation of a future free of these crimes.
Given the current range and intensity of crises around the world, many feel compelled to say that RtoP has failed. At the same time, important advances in the development of the principle and in the design of practical measures for its full implementation provide a more optimistic picture. Identifying next steps in the implementation of the responsibility to protect requires taking both factors into account.
- UN. Org
- December 2016, No. 4 Vol. LIII, Human Rights
As mentioned, I am largely a fan of the intent of the UN but am disappointed that genocidal and mass-murder atrocities, have grown since WWII. Don’t get me wrong, genocide has been around nearly as long as we humans have walked upright, but this is 2023 and there is simply no longer any excuse for it to not be extinct. The world needs more than just a conscience, we need actions that reflect the highest values of that conscience. The impetus for change is incumbent on all of us with the freedom to express ourselves. If we cannot push our elected leaders to act on our values, we need new leaders and this applies globally, not just here in the states. That every single religion doesn’t preach and act on the most basic of human values as a priority, is astounding.
At the moment, two of the globe’s biggest powers, Russia and China are hellbent on genocide against foreign and domestic populations. India, led by a far-right populist in PM Modi, is pursuing a cultural war against anyone not fully involved with his radical/ extremist Hindutva. With these enormous powers aligned with genocide, oppression and mass-murder, it becomes even more incumbent that the rest of the world acts… decisively.
This doesn’t mean that there are no other critically heinous activities around the world because, there absolutely are. It just means that we all must work harder to balance the scales of humanity because major powers are the culprits.
I will not belabor these points further. I merely felt that today, of all days, it is necessary to say out loud, that “never again” should not only be a catchphrase, but it must also become a collective endeavor, of every moral person on the planet The wave of populism and nationalism that has swept the globe this past decade or so, carries the baggage of genocide and mass murder. If you’ve seen it, not one decent person would disagree with putting an end to it. That my friends, is when “never again” will really mean something.