I’ve been thinking about the 10 steps of genocide lately. What originally introduced me to the steps was a YouTube video last month from Beau of the Fifth Column talking about them. It got me thinking about another video I saw back in May from a Trump rally. But before we get into what it was I thought about, let’s talk about genocide.
To make sure we’re all on the same page starting out, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as:
Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Coming off from that list that may be sounding familiar to you, Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, lists the following 10 steps as the steps of genocide. I’ve trimmed them down a bit to give you the gist and offered my comments in brackets, but if you’d like to read them in full, go here. And while you read them, I want you to really think about them and see if what I’m saying is hitting.
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. [Americans and immigrants]
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. [illegals, aliens]
3. DISCRIMINATION: A dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny the rights of other groups. The powerless group may not be accorded full civil rights or even citizenship. [denying asylum seekers the right to asylum]
4. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. [Southern immigration is an infestation]
5. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. [“militias” organizing on the border to capture illegal immigrants]
6. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. [they’re rapists and murderers coming for your jobs and way of life]
7. PREPARATION: National or perpetrator group leaders plan the “Final Solution” to the Jewish, Armenian, Tutsi or other targeted group “question.” They often use euphemisms to cloak their intentions, such as referring to their goals as “ethnic cleansing,” “purification,” or “counter-terrorism.”… They indoctrinate the populace with fear of the victim group. [securing the border]
8. PERSECUTION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity… Sometimes they are even segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. [families seperated into concentration camps]
9. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human.
10. DENIAL is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims.
Now you might have read that and felt your heart slowly dropping as the realization of where we’re at in this country and this glorious administration sets in. 10 steps to genocide, and if we’re keeping count, we’ve checked 8 boxes so far. “But surely we won’t check the 9th step!”, they hark. First, remind yourself how easy it was for us to check the first 8 boxes. Second, this is where our Trump rally comes into play.
Concordant with his typical rallies, Trump stokes the crowd’s fire with talks towards immigration – or anti-immigration rather. The video progresses as usual with a Trump rally, until Trump asks the crowd how to stop illegal immigrants. It’s kinda at this point things get serious. From the crowd, a supporter shouts, “Shoot them!”
Shoot them! i.e. execute them; murder them; put a bullet in them. Because we now believe that crossing a country’s borders illegally is worth the death penalty.
Now at this point, we can talk back and forth about “Oh, he didn’t mean it seriously!” and “He was just joking, lighten up!” But the big problem isn’t just one person saying this. The problem is that if this kind of rhetoric continues and reaches more people, what happens when it reaches a person who does take it literally?
What happens when a so-called patriot takes it upon themselves to head down to the Southern border and start taking shots at migrants? We’ve already had armed “militias” (spoilers – they’re not militias) working at the border to capture and turn over illegal migrants – what happens if one of them starts killing migrants because they believe they’re defending their country against an invasion?
The 9th step isn’t as far as we think it is. If genocide is separating children from families and causing a group of people bodily and mental harm, we’ve already left that line far behind us. The line that involves killing is now in front of us and with words like these, we’re flirting with it. Saying we need to shoot migrants to stop illegal immigration is a rogue ember that needs to be quickly snuffed out, lest it light something else.
The road to genocide is well-worn throughout history and its destination always leads to one place. And if we here want to prevent the end of the road, we need to prevent ourselves from ever walking down it in the first place.