July 26, 2007
Democide: Democrats and the Awful Truth of GenocideBy J.R. Dunn
Since the first of the year, I've been working on a project dealing with the connections between liberal policies and mass mortality - the easily demonstrated (though somehow never mentioned) fact that, since at least the 1950s, liberal policies taken to their logical conclusion tend to create large piles of bodies in a process that might be called mass negligent homicide. (The technical term for this, one that I don't care for, is "morticide".)
This project involves a considerable amount of research into several distinct events in recent American history - domestic crime and justice, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, Rachel Carson and DDT. One of the pleasures of any form of deep research is the surprises hiding in the material. For instance, in this case, the discovery that Rachel Carson is not, as a number of observers claim, directly responsible for the DDT ban - the credit for that and all the deaths that followed, goes to a grim cabal of assorted bureaucrats. Or the fact that William Shawcross, a British left-wing journalist whom I had dismissed as a diehard America-hater, has in recent years rethought his position in much the same sense as and far more consistently than Christopher Hitchens.
Occasionally, you come across something more disturbing, some collection of facts that takes shape out of the material and presents itself as something bizarre, inexplicable, and utterly out of context, but at the same time impossible to refute.
I call them "wild cards". You don't go looking for wild cards - by definition, there's no way you can know that they're there. They have to come to you. You examine a particular data set, a collection of documents, a study, and suddenly something jumps out at you. Something skewed and strange, something nobody had seen before and that you never expected to see. Something that gives rise to the eureka response - but with a twist: I have found it, but what the hell is it I've found?
With the exception of physics, wild cards are far from welcome in most fields. Establishments like stability and consistency, and wild cards are the enemy of both. Physics, the single great exception, began the 20th century with two of the most consequential wild cards of all time, Planck's identification of the quanta in 1900 and Einstein's Special Relativity in 1905. Physicists soon got used to wild cards leaping out at them almost constantly, proving that you can get used to them if you have no choice.
In any case, the card I was dealt this time went like this:
Almost all the large-scale genocides of the past century have occurred during Democratic administrations.
Below appears a list of major genocides and democides (a word coined by the master scholar of mass killing, Prof. R.J. Rummel, and meaning any mass murder by government) occurring during the 20th century from the 1930s on. Each of them accounted for something on the order of a million lives, several of them many more. The approximate number is followed by the date and the name and party of the U.S. president at the time.
Out of thirteen of these atrocities, no fewer than eleven occurred during the administrations of Democratic presidents. In fact, partially excepting John F. Kennedy, there's no Democratic president following Franklin D. Roosevelt whose term was not marred by at least one massive foreign bloodletting. In contrast, Republican administrations feature only two: Mao's Great Leap Forward, in which a nationwide artificial famine wracked China from one end to the other, and the Ethiopian famine, an almost identical episode that struck the ancient African kingdom in the mid-80s.
Darfur -- which straddles both the Clinton and Bush administrations -- may well make this list in due time, but has yet to reach the level of enormity of the atrocities listed. This is not to slight the magnitude of the human suffering involved. Darfur is an indictment of the international system as it currently exists. It could, and should, be rectified beginning tomorrow.)
Qualifications must be made in only two cases: while the Ukrainian famine began in 1932, grain seizures started in late Fall, almost simultaneous with Roosevelt's election. And while the Cambodian Year Zero massacres began during Gerald Ford's term in 1975, Ford was a caretaker president effectively overseeing a government controlled by a Democratic Congress. Jimmy Carter's first full year as president coincides with the peak frenzy of the massacres. (While it's true that the boat people continued arriving into the 1980s, the Reagan Administration defused the crisis by allowing several hundred thousand into the U.S. as refugees.)
Another set of qualifications, having no effect on the premise itself, has to do with numbers. Most of the mortality figures are ranges, many of them no more than estimates, and that they will remain. Few of the killers were as meticulous in their record-keeping as the Nazis were with the Endlosung. That said, some of the estimates, such as that of the Ukrainian Famine from Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow, and the Great Leap Forward from Jasper Becker's Hungry Ghosts. Mao's Secret Famine, are very solid. The figure for the rape of Nanking also includes the other massacres in the Yangtze valley during 1937, as derived from Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking.
Another troubling point is that in most cases, very little was done in response to the crises. Many of the episodes, as we've grown used to seeing, are accompanied by open denial or an almost willful refusal to admit that any such thing is happening. Denial is usually the product of individuals or groups sympathizing with or aiding the killers - the Communist Party during the 1930s, the New Left following the Vietnam War. Unwillingness to believe, though much more common, is not often a product of evil intent, but simply an inability to acknowledge that horror on such a scale is possible. (This is best illustrated by Justice Felix Frankfurter's response to an eyewitness of the Holocaust in 1943: "I cannot believe you. I'm not saying that you're lying. But that I cannot believe you.") While understandable, this remains a human failing and needs to be faced as such.
Because the result is paralysis or hesitation in confronting such events. While only one was carried out with the full cooperation of Western governments (Operation Keelhaul, the forced repatriation of Russian collaborators, prisoners, and expatriates at the close of WW II. Cooperation was compelled by the text of the Yalta Treaty.), a much larger number occurred with no intervention or often even comment by the civilized world. These include the Ukrainian Famine, the Rape of Nanking, the Great Purge, the Holocaust, the Soviet Postwar Purge, the Cultural Revolution, the Year Zero, the first three years of the boat people's exodus, the Rwandan Massacre, and is now being repeated in Darfur. Only two exceptions exist in which the killings were matched by an extensive rescue effort - the Biafran civil war and the Ethiopian Famine.
The correlation between large-scale atrocities and Democratic administrations appears clear. There is no denying it. It is one of the most disturbing things I have come across in twenty years of writing history.
But what can it possibly mean?
Some of these events don't require special explanation. The Holocaust occurred because Hitler had a major war to cover the working out of his ruling obsession, the destruction of the European Jews. Operation Keelhaul and the events following the Vietnam War occurred because the perpetrators had been effectively assured that there would be no reaction - they could do whatever they pleased, and not a hand would be raised to stop them.
But unless we're willing to accept the most moronic level of conspiracy theorizing, there is no straightforward explanation for the overall pattern. It simply can't be explained by conventional means. There is no demonstrable connection between the Democratic Party and the squalid crews responsible for these crimes. No easy correlation involving behavior or ideology exists - these atrocities were carried out by groups ranging from the right to the left to primitive tribalists. Certainly not even the sleaziest American politician - much less an entire political party - would make an attempt to benefit from such events.
Which leaves us to fall back on sheer speculation, always keeping in mind that these are stabs in the dark
* To take the most esoteric first: could it be something structural, some process operating well below the current level of our awareness? A Democrat gets elected and for totally unrelated reasons, as a product of social or political forces of which we know little or nothing, dictators are encouraged to deal mortally with their perceived enemies. Global human society is a complex system, in the mathematical sense, ruled by laws and relations as yet unknown to us. Could this be a product of complexity?
* Could it be some sort of unconscious signaling? Some misinterpretation of something completely unrelated by the dictators planning these massacres? Or perhaps, not so unconscious? Did somebody, God forbid, say something? Some remark that could have been taken as approval by one set or another of these goons? (This can happen. In1969, Henry Kissinger, generally despised as a war hound of the first order, may well have halted WW III by refusing to say anything at all to a Soviet diplomat who sidled up to him to suggest that the U.S. and the USSR cooperate in a nuclear first strike against China. Kissinger hurried away with a word - any answer under the circumstances could have been taken as agreement. And let's not forget April Glaspie, whose diplomatic choice of words convinced Saddam Hussein that the U.S. would overlook his invasion of Kuwait.)
* Or is it simply a matter of the record? Dictators know their history - nobody better. They're well aware that responses to such crimes are rare, and rarest of all with a Democratic administration. The record is perfectly clear on this, the point reiterated with each failure to act. Dems are reluctant to get involved even when they're fully aware of what's happening - look at Carter's behavior in reference to both the boat people and the Cambodian democide. In neither case did Carter make a single move - even as much as an official protest - before the rest of the world, in the form of the UN and various NGOs, was already involved. And tyrants do in fact think in such terms. Consider Hitler's answer when asked about the worldwide response to targeting the German Jews: "Who now remembers the Armenians?"
Or could it be coincidence? Correlation, after all, does not demonstrate causality. Overwhelming as the evidence seems, it could be a product of pure chance. Though I have my doubts - it all fits in too well with what we know to be true about the Democrats, their weaknesses and failings, the kind of disasters and blunders that accompany their rule.
The fact is, we don't know. And we need to know. If a mass murder were to occur every time the optometrists held a convention, somebody would investigate. Here we have entire populations disappearing whenever the donkeys blow through town. It deserves a closer look.
But it won't get one. It won't get one because the people most qualified for the task - the academics - are almost uniformly left-wing. Such a study truly requires the skills of specialized historians and social and political scientists. But the chances of such a group carrying out an in-depth historical investigation involving their representative party is precisely nil.
Contrast this with the attempts to associate the GOP with various atrocities from the Holocaust to Darfur, always on dubious grounds. (Recent examples include efforts to implicate the Reagan administration in Saddam Hussein's 1980s war crimes - a war in which a leading Republican said, "We'd like to see both sides lose", and The Lancet's Iraqi "civilian casualty" survey, which produced results ten times as high as estimates by the UN.) These claims have always been justified as expressions of concern for the victims. We look forward to seeing how strongly that sense of concern is maintained in this case.
So for the time being, the ghostly connection between the Democrats and the wagers of genocide must remain a shadow on our knowledge of history. A reminder of how complex things actually are, and how little we truly know.
Though it does throw a new light on 2008, doesn't it?
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.