Concerns with the Rise of Populism

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Populism is not a good thing nor has it ever been. It is political leaders rising to strength through fear and misunderstanding the majority of people in a country possess. People to do this was Hitler, Stalin and now Donald Trump. Using fear to recruit a following can only equate to horrible things to rise in the future.

The Men In The Pink Triangle

Incase you wanna buy which I recommend: https://www.amazon.com/Men-Pink-Triangle-Life-Death/dp/1555830064

This was one of my primary sources for my research paper on Gay Rights Before, During, and After the Nazi Regime. This book tells the story of Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim, a gay man who was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp until Liberation. This was not only a interesting subject because I am gay, but is interesting because you never hear the stories of the minor groups that were persecuted under the Nazis. Gay men were one of the most targeted and abused while in prison. The  SS encouraged other prisoners to harass and abuse gay prisoners. They were isolated from everyone else and had to sleep with special rules such as not having the lights off and having their hands under the covers. The curative experiments would be the cause of death of many and source of resentment for women for others. Even after liberation they would still face persecution and routine imprisonment for violating the homophobic law of Paragraph 175.

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With The Rest Of Our Families

This gripping novel tells the stories of those who managed to survived the Rwandan Genocide. Gourevitch travels to Rwanda and interviews the survivors of the Hutu Government lead massacre of the Tutsi people. The first couple chapters describes where and the scale of the genocide. He describes how once he walked through a field and he heard the crunching of bones from the remains of the people who were slaughtered there a year before. The field led to a church where the Tutsis were promised to be safe. However, this was  a lie and all the people who remained in eh church faced torture, rape, and eventual death. The bodies still laid out, to serve as a memorial and gruesome reminder of the atrocities that were committed not a year earlier.

The book also describes the origins of the tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis. Many theories exist, but all play a part I think. There is the Hammic myth where it tells the story of Noah and his sons. Two of his sons, the first white men, stop there brother Ham, the original black man, from embarrassing their father Noah. As punishment for trying to do that, Noah curses Ham to be never as equal as his brothers. This later is a factor when European Colonists come in and use it to their advantage to keep the two in contrast with one another. Tutsis had more the European features with lighter skin, slender, small nose. The Hutus were the stereotypical African with broad shoulders, dark skin, and a large nose. These features would help them be separated from the superior to the inferior. These and many other factors would help lead to the slaughter of almost 1 million people in the 1990s.

Paragraph 175

Primo Levi

Levi’s recon t on his experience in Auschwitz is a literary master piece and tells the horrific story of surviving in the Nazi’s most well known camps. He recounts how people were first delivered to the camp in cattle cars, waiting for their slaughter after they step out of the train car. The prisoners were then moved into the camp, where they were striped, shaven, and had all possessions taken away from them. They were treated as less than human, just animals that the SS held disgust for. Levi tells of his time is the disease ridden infirmary known as Ka-Be. Other places of the camp were horrid, but here where the sick lay for death, thieves ran amuck and stole whatever they could get their hands on. Levi always draws on how the people in Auschwitz have become what they are treated. Animals. They seem to lose their humanity and result to the basic instincts of survival and do whatever it takes to do that. There only man that Levi knows that is in touch with his humanity is Alberto, his best friend. This book was really well done and great selection for the class to have a first person view of the events in Auschwitz.

MSF Exhibit

Since I arrived late to the field trip, I missed out on a great opportunity to see the Holocaust Museum but I was lucky enough to go through the MSF or Doctors Without Borders exhibit which gives you an inside view of the struggles displaced people go through in war time. Being in some of their positions and hearing the stories of those lucky enough to make it to safety was eyeopening. Thousands of people will risk life to escape a horrible situation and to be in a nation where its the topic of debate as if we should help is sad to me. These people are children who have seen things no one their age should be able to imagine and have to endure hardships most people in the United States will never even come close too. This exhibit has helped strengthen my decision to go into a career that helps and makes an impact in the world for people who are put into situations that are tough to get through.

Armenian Genocide, Suny

Up until reading “They Can Live Anywhere In The Desert”, I barely had any knowledge on the Armenian Genocide. It is never discussed in any history class, it is never mentioned World War 1. It is treated as if it never occurred which is saddening considering 1.5 million people were brutally murdered in an attempt to wipe out their ethnicity and culture. In Suny’s book, he goes into immense detail about the the events and political occurrences that lead up to and while the genocide is happening. He describes how The Ottoman Empire, which was once a powerhouse and center for development, slowly deteriorated in the modern world into a shell of what it once was and stood for. How the Committee of Union and Progress, the CUP or commonly known as the Young Turks, rose to power to over throw Sultan Abdul Hammid II and institute a modern democratic system. This however turned corrupt and into a terrifyingly extreme Turkish Nationalist party that would orchestrate and execute a mass genocide. Suny also describes the long history of tension between the different ethnicities and nationalities in the Ottoman Empire thought its long existence. The religious tension between the Muslims (mainly turks) and the christians (which is where the armenians fell) were always clashing ever since the birth of the empire. The dominant Muslims would institute the Millet system which would keep the peace and order the minority faiths. Another was the passing of tanzimat and the attempt to modernize the old model of an empire. This allowed land to be owned by all but since armenians were poor, the wealthier nationalities like the turks were able to purchase ancient armenian land and then have the poorer armenians work the land for them.

The denial of this genocide is the worse part arguably. The fact the entire government of Turkey will not acknowledge or even let the topic be discussed in their borders is terrible. Also, the fact a lot of nations who are aligned with Turkey allow the genocide to be lost to history is disgraceful. Allowing people to know the past accurately is how we prevent things from being repeated in the future.

“A Memory of Solferino” by Henry Dunant

This story takes us back to the Battle of Solferino, which was part of Italy’s Second War for Independence. It was the last battle of large magnitude in the war and from the account of Henry Dunant, was equal in its carnage. Dunant goes into immense detail, describing the size of the French-Sardinian Army and the Austrian Army and how they together equated over 300,000 men. Dunant would also describe the gruesome deaths witnessed and the stories of heads being ripped from the owner by cannonballs, stomachs being gashed open with sabers, and heads being smashed by rocks. He described how the nurses, who were women, were seen running into the field to help the wounded soldiers and themselves being killed or caught in the cross fire. He even brings up the animals of soldiers and how they seemed to as into the war as their owners. Dunant was also quick to point out how it seemed the horses were more empathetic to the men laying on the ground and would carefully avoid while the men, sometimes of the same side, were so overcome with adrenaline and war they would trample the men lying to death. The following days and weeks after the battle were when you are able to truly see the disaster. Thousands of people lie in agony and thousands more lay dead in the fields. Dunant saw the townspeople down their part in helping the wounded and in need.  It was this horrific and long battle that would help inspire Henry Dunant to organize and start the Red Cross who’s sole purpose would be to relieve the pain and suffering of war as effective as possible. Its also a call to action to us to do what we can. As long as war exists there will always be some sort of suffering and people in need and we should not be so comfortable with turning our backs to them.

Thoughts on “Killing Civilians” so Far

did not expect to like “Killing Civilians” quite honestly. It came off to me as a “textbook style” type of book and just list statistics and facts that I would remember for the discussion and forget after. However, after reading through it more, I have come to really enjoy the book. Not enjoy as in enjoying reading about the suffering and misery brought upon innocent people but enjoy in that its expanding my knowledge and empathy towards the victims of war. Chapter 2 has been the most noteworthy to me since beginning the book. The personal accounts the author laces between the never-ending pages of facts and statistics really helps make it personal for the reader. The stories of survivors and witnesses of rape, genocide, and mass murder really make you connect more than you thought you would, at least for me it did. One excerpt from the book “Sex Slaves” by Louise Brown about a young girl named Shana who was a sex slave in Southeast Asia really rattled me. It told how she no longer works as a sex worker not because she’s moved on to better things but simply because she is going to die from a disease she contracted from her work. This is just utterly sad and helps open your eyes to the fact this practice still goes on today and we seem to benching to stop it.

Another aspect of this novel that is wonderful to me is how it opened my eyes to how American soldiers are sometimes no better than the “savages” we see on the news who are fighting wars elsewhere in the world. There are accounts of american soldiers, especially during the Vietnam Conflict, raping and decimating entire villages simply because the could. This shocked me in a sense that I always held our standards higher than others and to read and find out that we have people who do the same, if not worse, atrocities we shame others for doing was just disappointing to read.

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