26 March 2015

Awareness and Complicity

The European colonization of Africa’s ramifications transcend far beyond that of the widespread exploitation and theft of African people, resources, and artwork. Indeed, in “annexing” nations, with a limited understanding of the tribal backgrounds of their newly occupied subjects, leaders in European governments, under a false pretense of sharing both Christianity and civilization at large, miscategorized peoples—supposedly indistinguishable to the European eye—often forming racial or socioeconomic hierarchies within numerous African societies that had never before existed. Alas, this painful imposing of unjustified and unnecessary ideologies birthed numerous harsh human rights crises, specifically genocide, amongst African peoples that had previously coexisted in relative peace. Additionally, in response to these catastrophes, many Western nations have avoided ameliorating these arduous events, evolving from denying the disaster and regretting their neglect to recognizing the predicament, yet straying from genuine attempts at reconciliation.
Take Rwanda, for instance; on account of the German and Belgian formulation of a racial hierarchy between the Tutsi and Hutu races, compounded with the limited infrastructure any foreign conquerors provided, and taking into consideration the Western world’s obviously intentional and unnecessary deliberation over intervening in the Rwandan genocide, European colonizers can claim the most responsibility for the numerous race-driven crimes against humanity within Rwanda. When they arrived, Belgians instilled a racial hierarchy between the Tutsi and the Hutu people, allowing the Tutsis, “Rwanda’s aristocracy,” to govern the Hutu masses (Nardone; Document 1). Inspiring the Hutu majority to execute a coup d’├ętat, this racial hierarchy reversed itself when the Hutus, originally libertiless, enforced similar rulings upon their Tutsi neighbors, their maltreatment eventually transpiring into genocide (Human Rights Watch). Indeed, in order to so effectively carry-out such a massive slaughtering, in which every Hutu became an executioner, Hutu leaders utilized Belgian government infrastructure; although said radio systems and buildings were formed under a false justification of “civilizing the natives,” they became integral to the very demise of the Rwandan people (Document 2). Yet, in the face of this genocide, the Western world only involved itself after one million people were murdered and three million displaced (Document 3a). Within the case of Rwanda, while every unjust Tutsi aristocrat and each Hutu murderer is very much to blame for the Rwandan genocide, the harsh hierarchies that transformed subtle racial tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu people into a catastrophe of humanity largely would not have been in place, had neither Germans nor Belgians intervened as they chose. Moreover, avoiding any real responsibility for this genocide, the Western world largely watched without action, spreading their hypocrisy of beliefs that all of humanity is equal, given that nations that could have ended this genocide failed to care enough about those across the pond.

After such a melancholic epiphany for Western leaders, their ultimate realization of their misaction, it would have behooved them to follow their platitude, ¨never again,¨ formulated in the wake of nearly every human atrocity since the Holocaust. However, taking a slightly less ambivalent approach to the Darfur genocide, Western governments attempted to build international pressure on the Sudanese government, though still omitting any attempt at solving the problem at hand. To start, the United Nations (UN) Security Council voted, only three years after the advent of the Darfur genocide, to dub the calamity ¨genocide,¨ a choice too difficult for these same leaders to pursue during the Rwandan genocide (Document 9). Despite its interference, two years later, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded the outside world’s actions to be primarily ineffective; notwithstanding a change in title, Sudanese government soldiers continued to rape countless Darfurians, pillage and loot numerous towns, and murder countless innocent civilians (Document 10). As another attempt to falsely quell the abomination that was the Darfur genocide, American political parties, nongovernmental organizations, and human rights groups vowed to stop the mass-slaughter; nevertheless, as per usual, US efforts failed to accomplish much of anything, and the genocide continued (Document 11). In fact, even when global troops attempted to intervene within the conflict, such as those of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, were unequipped, and often endorsed the very monstrosity they were in place to end (Document 13). After the onslaught of failed global efforts to solve the Darfur conflict, it’s easy for onlookers to, once again, attribute blame to the outside world. Although not every African conflict is directly rooted in European oppression, the outside world’s extensive knowledge of this atrocity combined with its inability to redirect the course of any genocide manifests much more than the hypocrisy off of which so many Western governments are based: utter cruelty in contentitude.

When applied to the European invasion of numerous African societies, the epithet “veni vidi vici” tells not the full story, as it fails to dictate the extent to which European colonizers established false hierarchies, instilling a newly born hatred and foreshadowing atrocities far worse than any onlooker could imagine, and it fails to explore the intricacies of the Western world’s polite inactivity. The hypocrisies off of which many Western democracies are based encapsulate complicity, and the potential repercussions of that will soon transcend far beyond foreign policy. If nations defy their own ideals towards human rights if given falsely acceptable circumstances, and it is easy to do so, then that defecation on any principle of equality will eventually plop into those nations’ own boundaries in the face of improper treatment of minorities, the impoverished, and the infirmed, and all of the world will soon pay the price of complicity.

In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Freedom is not indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.”

Works Cited

Human Rights Watch. "Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda." HRW.org. Human Rights Watch, 8 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2015. .


Nardone, Jaclyn. "Intolerably Inferior Identity: How the Social Construction of Race Erased a Rwandan Population." Peace and Conflict Monitor. University for Peace, 4 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2015. .

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