Historically, “cultural genocide” was often used alongside and in conjunction with “physical genocide”. They aren’t mutually exclusive: it’s often difficult to actually eradicate a population by murder alone. Instead, you isolate, impoverish, endanger, deny medical care or the protection of law, take away the children. Some people die from direct violence; more die as the inevitable result of the condition you’ve reduced them to. You do the same thing to the children: isolate them, deny medical care, abuse them, put the in dangerous conditions. A lot die. The rest lose their identity.
Genocide is always going to be a combination of “physical” and “cultural”. They aren’t in opposition.
For example, the most common act of genocide in history is taking the surviving portion of a conquered population and selling them into slavery. Would anyone say that was mere “cultural genocide”?
Please, give me a little bit of credit. I’m actually repeating what the people responsible for the system said was the purpose and goals, and what the Truth & Reconciliation Commission said was the purpose and goals.
They started from the belief that of course the habits and modes of thought of white men (meaning, Western European ideas about capitalism, religion, individualism, private property, the role of women, etc.) were superior. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) itself noted, “The residential school system was based on an assumption that European civilization and Christian religions were superior to Aboriginal culture, which was seen as being savage and brutal.” (cite, p. 11) However, they didn’t think the Indian was disposable or subhuman; they thought the Indian was perfectly capable of becoming a “good” Canadian citizen, as long as he absorbed what they thought to be the correct values, and the schools were designed in theory to teach those values.
Now, what the schools actually ended up being was not quite what the organizers and administrators had planned. A system that operated with great power and little oversight is a system almost designed for abuse, and abuse there was aplenty. Some of the staff who worked at the schools and later attended or spoke at TRC events seemed utterly shocked at what the students experienced; at one event, a lady who’d been a student/resident talked about the difference:
No, they merely thought that indigenous parents were unfit because they were teaching their children these "inferior’ spiritual practices and strange languages and things like communal agricultural practices instead of the proper each-family-on-its-own-farm system.
No, we don’t know that nearly as well as has been presented in some of the press. For example, the fact that Kamloops School had a cemetery, somewhere, was no great mystery; it had been talked about for years, and in fact was found because they went looking for what was known to be there. (They didn’t know how many graves they’d find, and the scale of the discovery is what is shocking, not the discovery itself.) Some of the deaths at least were the subject of coroner’s inquests or otherwise appear in official records, others do not appear in known documents, but the state of the documentation is so poor that it is difficult to say how many were actually covered up versus how many simply aren’t listed in extant records but might well have been listed in records that didn’t survive or haven’t been made available.
That seems to be true of many of the schools: they opened and closed and moved and burned down and were rebuilt over a period of more than a century, and in general no effort was ever made to preserve in a central repository the records of each. Sometimes the denomination or somebody else has records that are helpful, sometimes they don’t, and it is all rather random and haphazard. The process of finding the truth relies a lot on memories. For the earlier years, however, no one is still alive who remembers, so the archaeologists and other investigators are the only ones who can recover part of the truth.
The TRC concluded in 2015 that probably every school in operation before 1950 or so had a cemetery, but the process for documenting the location and providing for maintenance after the school closed was irredeemably broken. In some cases, they don’t even know where the school itself was with any degree of certainty; the first Cecilia Jeffrey School, for example, was in operation from 1902 to 1929 “somewhere on a peninsula between Rice Bay and Shoal Lake” near Lake of the Woods, but the TRC could not identify the exact site from the available records or from satellite imagery. Presumably there is a cemetery close to it, wherever it is. For St. Mary’s Indian School in Kenora, there are photographs of the cemetery in the early 1900s, but when the TRC went looking in 2014-2015, its location could not be identified. The second Cecilia Jeffrey School had two cemeteries, whose locations are known; as of 2014, they were unmaintained and overgrown, nestled close to the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks, with one having no surface evidence of graves and the other having just a few white crosses rising out of the weeds. (See descriptions in Vol. 4 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, entitled Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.)
No, I am not arguing that. In fact, you clipped off the very next sentence I wrote, about how the people responsible for the system were hwrong and thereby created an environment ripe for abuse. How is calling somebody “horrifically wrong” the same as “excus[ing]” their actions or somehow justifying anything at all?
What you are arguing is that destroying cultures that you perceive as inferior, by forcibly abducting the children and putting them into re-education camps, is not ‘real’ genocide, because of good intentions.
As long as you don’t deliberately set out to kill them it’s fine, because you have the good intention of improving them by making them ‘sort of white’. Of course you may kill a lot of them (purely accidently) by not really caring about the conditions in your re-education camps, and you certainly deserve a slap on the wrist because of that.
That seems to be your argument.
So China putting the Uighurs into ‘Vocational Skills Education and Training Centers’ is also not genocide, because they have the good intention of wiping out Uighur culture and indoctrinating them to be good Chinese citizens who toe the line?
It’s people like you who are enablers of genocide.
That is not an argument that has been made by anyone in the thread. I know it’s the Pit, but there may be some useful understanding to be found here, and wholly misrepresenting someone’s position doesn’t move in that direction.
This is not at all how I would interpret @slash2k’s posts. I read what he is saying as similar to “Manslaughter and murder are different things. Both are horrible for the victim, but murderers intentionally kill their victim while people who commit manslaughter don’t mean to kill the victim. We should recognize that one is worse than the other.”
Your argument seems to be “if you refuse to call people who commit manslaughter murderers, you are enabling murder.”
That’s really thought provoking, thanks for sharing that thought. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s incompatible with the theory of the founders of residential schools believing that indigenous people could be “whitened” or “saved” through forced indoctrination, ala @Martin_Hyde 's post in the other thread.
I think that’s actually a pretty spot on analogy. The “generous” interpretation might be that the kidnapper thought he was liberating the victim, say kidnapping a Palestinian thinking that you’re saving them from becoming a member of ISIL. Or, if the kidnapper was a member of ISIL, believing that they are putting the victim on a righteous path to salvation.
Actually now that you’ve put it that way, I am not sure if cultural genocide is even a “lesser crime” than physical genocide, even though I think they are different things. Similar to rape vs. murder - both heinous crimes but I don’t think you’d get unanimous agreement which is worse.
It’s also worth noting AFAIK most of the boarding school separations were not permanent and complete, which complicates comparing it directly to the separation of slave families which were generally permanent and complete. My understanding at least as far as I know about some of the schools (and this remains an area where my knowledge isn’t complete) is the boarding schools had holiday and other period breaks where the students were no longer resident in the schools–not to mention some of the boarding schools had day schools as well. I think there was a decent variance in how the schools were ran. I don’t believe either that the students were ordinarily complete cut off from their parents, I think they were allowed to write, they visited on breaks, and once they were done with education they could obviously move back in permanently with their families. Even after emancipation many slave families could never track down their lost family members because they had been sold and resold, and there was no system of tracking them and they had no means of staying in touch after the separation.
You ever seen Fargo? How did you feel about William H. Macy, the schmuck who tries to get out from under an impending embezzlement investigation by having his wife kidnapped and held for ransom, as compared to Peter Stormaire, the goon Macy hires, who murders the wife and feeds her into a woodchipper? Macy’s character is 100% responsible for the death of his wife, in both a legal and a moral sense, but I still feel there’s a significant distinction between that hapless fuck-up, and the utter sociopath Stormaire played.
Which isn’t to say that the Canadian government were just hapless fuck ups here. I don’t think they were motivated by compassion for these kids, so much as wanting a more exploitable underclass. Natives living their traditional way of life don’t generate tax revenue. Factory workers do. I suspect the government’s interest here was less “We have to give these kids the brightest future possible,” and more, “If you beat them enough, they can learn to run an industrial loom.”
Right. I read it as you feel the term “Genocide” belongs to you and yours, and nobody else is allowed to use it. It’s special to you, and you don’t like anyone else using the word. We get it.
The Canadian government, the Prime Minister of Canada, and many, many others in Canada have called what happened in the residential schools “Cultural Genocide”, so I suggest you continue to have your opinion, and refrain from telling us in Canada what we are allowed to call this Canadian tragedy.
It is not worth noting. You seem to think it’s important for some reason but it isn’t.
The school system was created for the purpose of removing Indigenous children from the influence of their own culture and assimilating them into the dominant Canadian culture, “to kill the Indian in the child.”
That’s genocide plain and simple. It doesn’t matter that the genociders took Christmas off.
Genocide denial is an integral part of genocide. People like @DrDeth and @Martin_Hyde who deny the Native American genocide in the US and Canada are not just voicing their (shitty) opinions. They are actively participating in the last stages of genocide. They may be too stupid to realize that that’s what they’re doing, but they are contributing to the genocide nonetheless.