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The Crime of All Crimes: Toward a…
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The Crime of All Crimes: Toward a Criminology of Genocide

by Nicole Rafter

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It’s still the problem from hell

The Crime of All Crimes: Toward a Criminology of Genocide by Nicole Rafter (NYU Press, $35).

As this is written, mass graves have been found in Burundi; the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingyas moves ahead in Myanmar; and the murders of Christians, Muslims and Yazidi (among others) continue unabated in territory controlled by ISIL.

Genocide is no longer the twentieth century problem; it’s also the twenty-first century problem. In The Crime of All Crimes: Toward a Criminology of Genocide, Nicole Rafter looks at eight genocides of the twentieth century: The German extermination of the Herero people in East Africa; the Armenian genocide in Turkey; the Nazi murders of disabled people, the Russian massacre of Polish officers in Katyn Forest; the Suharto-led genocide in Indonesia; Pol Pot’s mass murders in Cambodia; the Guatemalan genocide of indigenous people; and the Rwandan genocide.

In seeking commonalities, she quickly finds war and civil unrest; dehumanization of the victim group; local animosities unleashed and sometimes encouraged by outsiders; and a high likelihood of recurrence if the victim group is not annihilated. Each of these commonalities may exist in one society or another, but under the right circumstances–namely, the incitement of an existential fear–will ignite into genocide.

This is an objective study that, despite its scholarly tone, is gut-wrenching. And there are 52 other genocides in the twentieth century that she didn’t cover–not to mention the genocides that we classify as “current affairs” rather than “history.”

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Jul 14, 2016 |
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