Elie Wiesel Essay

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The Crusades, the Native American being murdered by the Europeans, the Forced Famine in the Ukraine and the Killing Fields of Cambodia are all examples of genocide (Altman,55).

The word genocide comes from the Greek phrase genos meaning race or tribe and Latin root cide meaning to kill (Altman,13).

Ethnic cleansing is the systematic destruction of cultural heritage (Sells 1).

Genocide and acts of ethnic cleansing are usually executed by an organized group of people with a clear goal: annihilation of the chosen victims.

Opposition to oppression in all its forms, defense of all human liberties, celebration of what is right in social intercourse: All this and much more is in that text, which today has special meaning. I happened to witness it in the late Fifties, as I traveled through the South. True, it took much pain and protest for that law to be changed, but it was.

Today, while fanatically stubborn racists are still around, some of them vocal, racism as such has vanished from the American scene. Jew-haters still exist here and there, but organized anti-Semitism does not—unlike in Europe, where it has been growing with disturbing speed.

As a great power, America has always seemed concerned with other people’s welfare, especially in Europe.

Twice in the 20th century, it saved the “Old World” from dictatorship and tyranny.

Genocide can be defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, religious group by killing members of the group, causing serious bodily of harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group (Altman,14).

When a planned genocide is occurring, ethnic cleansing is usually hand in hand.


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