Why does the U.S. ignore the holocausts in the world?

This question is regarding both political action and the general public. Schindler’s List is a very popular movie in America, the type of movie where you stand up at the end and say, “How could we ever let that happen in the 20th century?”

But in the Sudan and China, there are holocausts going on today. Why are these ignored in America? I have to admit, I include myself in this group. I rarely think about the fact that thousands are being tortured and slaughtered in these countries(and others around the Sudan). What do you guys think about this? If there is enough interest, I will attempt to find links to hook you up with info.

Just curious.

I think it’s just distance.
I travel a lot, mostly backpacking, and I get a full dose of street life conditions overseas.

One other thing to know, though is that other countries also care very little about suffering even in close-by places like Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

Whenever people say Americans are not well informed about other countries, I always have to ask, compared to who?

The French only care about their own former colonies, since they have interests and French relatives there. They don’t care about the other ethnic groups at all. And the other countries are even less concerned.

In South America, they don’t know Europe exists, much less Africa or Asia.

Americans can’t win… if we intercede and try to do something like we did with Somalia, we’re bad guys, with an eye towards trying to be supercop…

But if we just say “Hey, that’s not nice, no trade for you!” we’re seen as being to soft, and folks scream that we’re elitist.

Me, I think that when something like that happens, if we step in, we take over…

But then again, I’m a yankee Imperialist dog, so it’s ok… heheheh :biggrin:

I don’t think it is so much that we don’t care, more of we as a nation don’t know what to do. The US would go broke and become hated (even moreso) around the world if we went pushing our way into every country that we felt was doing atrocious things by our standards and make people stop doing it.We try being diplomatic, and there are groups like Amnesty International trying to change the world, but it really is one of those things that is easier said than done.

I think it’s also a question of if the United States can make a difference in a country which:
(A) Can not provide a realistic defense to the US’s actions.
(B) Will not be generally supported by the population of the US.
© Will not be supported by allies of the US nor by powerful allies of their own who could tip item (A).

Why not try to forcefully stop human rights violations in China? Because China is a large, powerful trading partner. Because China has a large army which would turn a US attack on China into a war. Because China has nuclear weapons which makes a real war even less of a desirable outcome. Because China has a high role in the United Nations with the Security Council. In short, it’s extremely unlikely that we could change the situation in China and at the same time we’d be making life for the US a whole lot harder.

I won’t pretend to be well informed on the situation in Sudan (shame on me), but I’m willing to bet that, again, trying to force our will upon the region would lead to an outcome that politicans find undesirable. If nothing else, it’s hard to rally and keep civilian support on behalf of some people in a nation that most Americans probably don’t even know exists.

Our last couple of major ‘stop the genocide’ efforts have been directed at nations where we already knew we would have some general (if not overwhelming) support from nations allied to the United States and at nations where we knew we had a massive military advantage. In other words, unless the United States knows that the cards are in their favor, they’re not going to step in.

Is this wrong? I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t believe that just because we won’t intervene in China, we should allow Serbia to do as it pleases. If we have the option of stopping a wrong when we’re close to certain of a victory, we should of course do so. But on the other hand, if we’re uncertain of victory or already realize that we have almost zero chance of making any difference, it seems foolish to waste additional American lives in a conflict that won’t stop the waste of other lives. That might sound harsh, but if someone can come up with a reason why we should have our soldiers die and risk a major conflict on a fight we don’t have the resources to win, I’d like to hear it.

Keep in mind that in WWII, the Holocaust had basically nothing to do with the involvment of the United States. We entered the war in retaliation of a Japanese attack (if you believe it was a suprise attack - I’m not debating that one way or the other), to support friendly countries in Europe, to halt German expansion throughout Europe and to defend our own nation proactively by assisting in a war to stop someone else’s plan for global domination. The plight of Europe’s Jews wasn’t a consideration (though, of course, it was a good thing that Allied forces did end it).

Goodness, this was one long post.

      • The reason that the US ignores such crisises is that there is not enough economic incentive to save everybody who is suffering. As for humanitarian reasons, such (true) motivations are generally few and far between. - MC

Our country was founded on the back of what has been described as the largest act of genocide in world history–the calculated destruction of the Native Americans.

Then it grew fat and rich on the back of another holocaust–the African slave trade.

Currently, we support military juntas that make sure that multinational corporations have free access to “undeveloped resources.” Basically, our government GUARANTEES that genocide will take place because military governments generally love slaughtering people, especially those pesky indigenous folks (feel free to read up on what your tax dollars are accomplishing in Columbia at this very moment).

These are all troubling thoughts so we are indoctrinated from birth to not acknowledge their reality. Doing so might get us started on the road to understanding our own complicity in them.

If problems do get noticed, they are generally chalked up to strange or ancient tribal or ethnic rivalries that are beyond the understanding of sane and moral Americans. We don’t want to see that trouble erupts from the usual suspects: access to land, resources, political power, etc., and more often than not, colonialism or modern imperialism is playing a major role.

The system collapses without our support. Our support would collapse if we knew the truth. We are kept at all times well away from the truth.

I understand what you’re asking Mahaloth, but most of these holocausts you are refering to aren’t really holocausts.

Holocaust means death by fire

I think that this question belongs in the Great Debates forum.

Hapa-you woudln’t happen to be acquainted with a man named Ed Brett, would you?

Well, first, with the advent of globalization I’d say that the US is more likely than not to have some sort of vested interest in one side of a geopolitical struggle. Getting involved in a showdown with a rising death count may put relations at risk for decades to come or may get the US involved for many years with no foreseeable out. When we think of the word “Holocaust,” for example, most of us think of the Nazis. Much of the trouble today in the Middle East comes from the legislation and treaties surrounding the creation of Israel, a state created in part to atone for the atrocities of the Holocaust. Now it’s an all-out war zone. It’s not a very encouraging model for US involvement post-holocaust, an involvement that was already apologetic thanks to their failure to get involved before millions of people died. So apathy seems to be the most pragmatic solution…turn your eyes and you won’t have to pay for anything.

It’s fascinating to read all of the above posts and not see any references to Iraq, where the US sanctions policies have put a complete stranglehold on their food and medical supply and destroyed their national infrastructure at every level for years to come. Most of the examples given above…Native Americans, China, Sudan, etc…if not all of them involve ethnic groups “of color,” and the vast majority of US foreign policy is still determined by white males (no offense to any reading this.) But I would perhaps venture to say that if similar atrocities took place in Europe (a place many Americans feel much closer to psychologically and politically) Americans would take up arms. It’s simply a question of sympathy…and after decades of the media saturating our minds with images of horror and destruction it takes a lot to drag us out of our armchairs.

Star: I am afraid you are completely wrong about the situation in Iran, I had effectively answered that in an earlier thread (in GD)on that very subject. Please “search” it, and if you wish to continue this, start another thread on it in GD. Since the situation there is by no-ones call a “holocaust” (I am not counting the Kurd problem, which star is not mentioning), mentioning something like this is considered a “hijack”, which is considered a GD/SDMB “no-no”. The OP is not “bash the US and it’s foreign policy”, but= why does the US not do more to help the situations in China & Sudan. hapa- same for your mentioning the Amerind/slave (and you are also somewhat wrong- but that is anotheer thread) problem- which was some 100 years ago+.

On to the actual OP. I agree with jophiel, to a large extent. However, if China was not bribing any & all US Government officials with “soft money”, we certainly would have taken away “most favored nation status”, and if we were moral- we should. The Sudan is a sinkhole, where we can’t even be sure who is who, let alone do anything productive.

the battle with native americans was a war not a holocaust. We wanted their land, so did they so we took it and using typical tatics we destroyed their civilians and food supply to stop them from fighting. Same thing happened in the civil war, do you call the south a holocaust?


First of all, this was not a case of attempted genocide. Genocide is a cohesive attempt to wipe out an ethnic/racial group. Yes slavery sucks, but I implore one person on this board to claim that they are not the descendants of slaves. We all seem to exist.

Additionally, we did not get wealthy off of slavery; the reason that the South lagged behind in economic growth both before and after the war was because, although attractive, slavery is incredible inefficient. It stifles competition and encourages the type of cultural decadence associated with the downfall of Rome. It sucks for both the master and slave, more so for the slave.

Not to interrupt your America-bashing, but America was proudly one of the few societies ever to conceive that slavery was wrong for moral reasons instead of losing their slaves due to a downfall, i.e. Rome.

Then these people would be wrong. I encourage you to provide one considerable, objective cite that would indicate that even the vicious conquistadors intended to use disease to wipe out all Native Americans.

In a long history of historical mergers and (unfriendly) acquisitions, ours have been comparatively benign. Our court system even went so far as to acknowledge the legal rights of Cherokees to their land, only to be defeated by their lack of direct control over the military and the audacity of Andrew Jackson. Compared to how even other Native Americans waged war on each other, concepts like ethical claims to areas of land were not even under consideration.

if you are trying to tell the truth, people getting angry is a sign that you’re doing a good job.

Guinastasia, i don’t know who Ed Brett is, would you be willing to share info on him (hoping that this isn’t a dig on me that i’m oblivious to)?

starthrower, thank you for bringing up Iraq. 5,000 people (mostly women and children) dying a month, as they have been for 10 years, thanks to US foreign policy. of course racism plays a big part–look how much the small-scale crimes of the former Yugoslavia got highlighted.

Danielinthewolvesden, Iraq came up, not Iran. and how can i answer a question this involved without providing historical background? this is now considered a “hijack?!” okay, i’ll stick to the current facts: the US pays lip service to “human rights” in China, usually about slave labor in prisons (which we have no problems with here in America–check who sewed your Levi jeans) or military occupation of Tibet (but it’s okay in Israel), but obviously this is just a bargaining tactic. we’re hungry for their markets and will gladly allow them to continue their murderous ways, as long as we make some money. we’ve supported Pol Pot and the Indonesian generals in Asia, China looks like a softie compared to those guys.

now i’m at work and don’t have access to my books so this is all off the top of my head. but i know that the Sudan has historically had problems because it’s an artificial amalgam of Muslims in the north and Christians/animists? (help, anybody)in the south, only brought together under colonial rule. of course there is going to be conflict and of course the West is partially, if not largely responsible. but as Danielinthewolvesden put it, “we can’t even be sure who is who” so let’s just let the killing continue.

Asmodean, to call it a “battle” with the Native Americans is a joke. and we all know it isn’t officially considered a “holocaust.” but remember that what you call “typical tactics” were actually much admired by Hitler and used in the Official Jewish/German Holocaust: ghettoization/reservation, forced marches/Trail of Tears, etc. check Ward Churchill’s “A Little Matter of Genocide” if you need proof.

threemae, i don’t know where to begin. but your description of slavery is a classic case of understatement if i’ve ever heard one: “It sucks for both the master and slave, more so for the slave.” i’m surprised you haven’t heard the very famous case of Sir Jeffrey Amherst, who purposely gave smallpox-infested blankets to Native Americans–the first documented case of biological warfare. here’s a site: http://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/amherst/lord_jeff.html

Rewire268, i would also condemn the imperialism of England and Spain if that was the topic, but we were talking about America. what really troubles me is this statement: “Besides, you keep forgetting that during those times, it was acceptable to go into a new land and wipe out the ‘natives’.”

acceptable?! to who? the Europeans who were committing the crimes? what about the people being killed? did they find it “acceptable?” damn, talk about Eurocentrism. the vast majority of the world’s population was not sailing around the world, killing and enslaving people. no, Europeans did not invent slavery and warfare, but they did (continue to do) it on massive scales never seen before so i hope you can understand the outrage. slavery and warfare are horrible and wrong whenever they occur, in my book at least.

and i hope it comes through in this long-winded and self-righteous response that i’m really trying to educate more than i’m trying to argue. thanks for reading.

yes, that’s right rewire 268…dare to question me and you will be banished! :stuck_out_tongue:

but seriously, it always surprises me when indignant and angry apologists for American policy turn silent when confronted with facts. i was all ready for a “great debate” and nobody is even itching for a scrap.

it may be hard to believe, but some of us “America bashers” aren’t relying on corny conspiracy theories for our beliefs. America is and has always been, an extremely war-like society that has brought misery to millions. why do you think we are so widely hated around the world? i know, all those Muslims in the Middle East are just “religious fanatics,” so their feelings are basically invalid…

Ward Churchill has been a big influence on my thinking so i’m going to try and share instead of antagonizing people any further. here’s a good introduction to his point of view:


It’s amazing how a few people can ruin an otherwise interestind debate.

Are we ignoring the “holocausts” in the world. No. We know about them. Are we doing anything about them? Some, we try to stop (Kosovo), others, we don’t know where to start (Sudan). If I recall my WWII History, we had heard rumors starting in late 1943 that the Jews/undesirables were being shipped off to concentration camps, but had no evidence, nor could anyone actually bring themselves to believe it was actually happening until we liberated that first camp.

You really should turn off the X Files, put up the Illumatis trilogy, get rid of the tinfoil hats, and actually pay attention to the world. Get more than one point of view to the world, rather than assuming some One author has it all right and every else is a member of the Conspiracy.

We will never get rid of ignorance this way.

you’re right, Saint Zero, i should try to “pay attention to the world.” but maybe you should pay attention to the history which you’re having trouble recalling.

the United States was well aware of the Holocaust from the very beginning. if you really want to fight ignorance, begin at home:


Wyman, D. S. (1984). The abandonment of the Jews: America and the
Holocaust, 1941 - 1945. N.Y.: Pantheon Books

Auschwitz and the Allies (An Owl Book) by Martin Gilbert

America Views the Holocaust, 1933-45 : A Brief Documentary History
by Robert H. Abzug

of course, the Allies knew about the Holocaust. were they interested in stopping it? not really (we wouldn’t even allow survivors to enter our country). knowledge of the crime and a desire to intervene are two greatly different things. Hitler understood this perfectly. he saw how the West was completely indifferent to the Turkish genocide of the Armenians; he figured they wouldn’t really care about the Jews either. he was correct.

told you i don’t believe in conspiracy theories. would you like to dispute any of the theories i have presented, or would you rather continue with the historical half-truths and attacks on my character?

The Aztec and Inca empires were built on bloodshood, as were the empires and kingdoms of Africa, and they ruled their subjects every bit as harshly as any European monarch. The Muslim invasions of India were certainly no picnic; they did everything they could to exterminate Hinduism and Buddhism. The Muslims also invaded Europe, both Spain and central Europe, and did their best to exterminate Christendom. The wars they fought in central Europe are among the bloodiest and most brutal in history. (And, no, this was not simply a reaction to the Crusades.) The North American Indians fought endless wars among themselves for land; the journals of Lewis and Clark mention an Indian chief desperate to make an alliance with the whites because his tribe was pressed hard on all sides by enemy tribes and his people were in danger of starvation. Genghis Khan built his empire with military campaigns that made his name more or less a synonym for mass bloodshed, and arguably the bloodiest war in history was a religious war in China in the nineteenth century.

As for slavery, the Euros certainly didn’t invent slavery, and they weren’t even the worst offenders. For five hundred years before the European slave trade in Africa began, the Arabs took millions of slaves out of sub-Sahara Africa and worked them under conditions so harsh that virtually none of them succeeded in leaving descendents. In addition to this, they took large numbers of slaves out of both Europe and Asia. European seamen of the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries lived in dread of being captured by North African pirates, because the horrors of slavery in North Africa were well known to them. There is a mountain range in Afghanistan called the “Hindu Kush,” which translates as “Hindu death”; it got this name because of all the Hindus being taken into slavery who died while crossing that mountain range. Prior to the eighteenth century, slavery was an almost universal institution practiced in some form by practically every culture and society, and slavery was no more humane in the rest of the world than it was in the West.

The Euros weren’t playing a new game. They just played the old game better. The rest of the world didn’t have a problem with the rules of the game until they lost. And it was the Euros who first questioned both the moral acceptablity of slavery and the right of conquest. When the rest of the world condemns Europe for slavery and imperialism, they condemn the Euros by a moral standard which they learned from the Euros in the first place.

I am immensely skeptical that the rest of the world was somehow more moral, humane, and civilized than the West. The claim that Western civilization is somehow uniquely evil and destructive is racist bunk.

While I agree with PoleCat’s general point, some corrections are merited:

True in large part (well there are kingdoms and there are kingdoms, not all African or European kingdoms were absolutist), and the general point that treating folks well is new innovative idea for humanity is certainly correct.

False in detials: by all accounts after the initial violence of invasions, the Muslims did very little to try to exterminate Hinduism or Bhuddism. Rather they just taxed Hindus and other non-Muslims at higher rates – this was the general policy. All in all their record was, as compared to Xtians in the same time period quite tolerant. Not all that tolerant by our standards, but relatively speaking…

These are two different periods entirely. The first, spain was in the 700s and the wars continued (with Muslims and Xtians actually fighting side by side for political reasons as often as not) until the Reconquista in 1492. The invasion of Spain was at least partly abetted by disgruntled Latins and the Muslim rulers emphatically did not try to exterminate Christians. Stomp on christian kingdoms yes, Christians per se, no. The same was not the case in the Reconquista (vis-a-vis either Muslims or Jews): but this has nothing to do with “Euro” vs non-Euro (plenty of Euro Spaniards converted) but rather the ideo-religious position of the Muslims to other religions (they can be allowed to continue if they surrender)compared to the Xtians of the time (must wipe out the heathens).

Well, these were the Ottomans, and this starts many centuries after the end of the Crusades. Good old fashioned empire building. Pretty bloody of course, but not wars of extermination. I doubt they qualify as being more brutal than any other wars of the period.

False in the detials. First, the numbers in the trans-Saharan trade are probably in the same ball-park as the trans-Atlantic but we don’t really have the data to know. However your assertion that the slaves were “worked under conditions so harsh that virutally none of them succeeded in leaving descendents” is ridiculous and false.

(1) Slavery in the Muslim-Mediterranean world was mostly domestic. Little to no plantation slavery existed.
(2) Most slaves were female
(3) Fewer ‘racialist’ barriers to intermarriage existed (not none, but fewer) in the Muslim-Mediterranean world (wasn’t only the Muslims who were holding slaves mind you) so there was a high rate of “mixing”.
(4) African descent in the Arab world, in such areas as North Africa, the Peninsula and even into areas of Iraq and Syria is quite clear. Now in the case of North Africa, there were pre-existing ‘black’ populations (native) attested to since Roman times and before so the picture is a bit muddy, but it is clear there was a large demographic impact.

Yup, although they were in fact buying them from European merchants more than capturing Europeans themselves --frankly the Muslim fleets were never all that great. The single greatest source for ‘white’ slaves was the Slavic east where Xtian merchants, be they byzantine or Italian city staters, gleefully sold their ‘fellow white man’ as it were --obviously the concept did not exist yet-- into slavery. Just goes to show nobody anywhere has a monopoly on nasty behaviour.

Really, do you have a cite for that, I’ve never seen this translation before. I’m sorry to question the assertion, but your data so far has not been terribly accurate.

Correct, although that sometimes depends on the context and the situation. It’s pretty much indisputable that the plantation systems of the new world were among the nastiest slave systems seen, especially given their scale. But that was as much a feature of the fact they were plantation systems which historically have tended to be abusive. And of course the ideology of racism made things worse. Household slavery, whether in the New World or elsewhere has always tended to be more humane --we seem as a race (human) to have a harder time grossly mistreating those we know personally. To the extent that non-Western systems were more characterized by household slavery they tend to be less horrid, but that’s not because they are non-Western but simply a structural effect.

True, although with racism the rules changed a bit.

Quite correct.