In the January, 2006 edition of the National Geographic magazine, on page 30, there is a chart that you need to see. It's titled "Century of Death," and it shows how mass murder has been a recurring tool used against political, ethnic, and religious groups. Thirty-five countries are listed as having used mass murder as a means to control their populace during the past century.
I'm not suggesting that mass murder is new to the world as of the 20th century. I'm simply responding to statistics that National Geographic magazine has provided for the years 1900 to 2005. The figures I am going to share with you are the high estimates of total death. We'll never have the exact figures because those who perpetrate this heinous behavior don't tend to keep records or brag about it.
By far, the largest perpetrators of genocide have been Germany (11,400,000), Japan (10,000,000), the U.S.S.R. (20,000,000) and China (30,000,000). The figures for the USSR span the period from 1920 to 1953, which is the longest period of murder. China's killing took place in three episodes, with the largest number of people being murdered during the "Great Leap Forward." Together, these four countries account for SEVENTY ONE MILLION-FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND deaths.
With the exception of Namibia (75,000) and Turkey (1,500,000), all the rest of the murders have taken place between 1965 and 2005. Twenty-nine countries have chosen to wipe out parts of their populations. I was curious about the breakdown by area, and took the time to extrapolate information from the chart.
The largest number of people killed has been in Africa: 7,809,000. Following that, the area from Pakistan to the Philippines comes in second with 6,505,000. The number killed in the Middle East comes to 3,090,000. In South and Central America, 290,000 have been killed, and Bosnia and Yugoslavia account for another 235,000. The rough total for these killing sprees in the second half of the 20th century is EIGHTEEN MILLION PEOPLE! And we consider ourselves enlightened.
The chart and these numbers are too sterile to grasp the horror of the killing. Men have said, "We're going to kill you because we CAN." Mothers with babies, teenagers, old men and women, no one escaped these killing sprees. Either you are with us, or you are against us. If you're not with us, we'll do our best to wipe you out.
For the most part, the world does not step in to stop this killing. Not one major power in the world acted to save the Tutsis when the Hutus went on a killing spree in 1994. It seems to me that the United Nations is ineffectual at stopping violence of this nature, and having a super power step in to monitor the country doesn't work any better. And none of this addresses the problem of finding out about the murders after the fact.
If a county is going to participate in genocide, I'd like for that country not to be subsidized by my tax dollars. I'd like for us to not trade with them, or have any contact with them.
It would be nice if we lived in a black and white world, where you could make laws and know that justice was meted out properly. I know that China is responsible for the largest amount of genocide in the past 50 years, and China wants preferable status with us as a trading partner. I also know that China has more people than the U.S. has, and is going to be the super power to watch in the coming decades, as it flexes it's military and economic muscles. I know that our diplomats are already treading carefully around China. I don't believe that we have the power to stop them, should they decide they need to remove more political dissidents. It's wrong to let them think we don't care, when they kill.
I understand that there aren't any easy solutions to the subject of genocide, but it needs to end. We need a statesman who can unite us toward that goal. Perhaps as we become a global economy we will see the opportunity to put an end to genocide.
And, perhaps I am a dreamer.