There was no genocide in Australia

It is true, writes Dalrymple, that

the fate of the Aboriginal population had been in many respects an awful one, and no doubt very bad things had been done by settlers, but there was a tragic dimension to the encounter which required no genocidal intent to produce its results.

Perhaps those who talk of Australian genocide do not mean the attempt to kill an entire race of people, such as occurred in Rwanda, but

something more along the lines of the effective destruction of a culture or extinction of a way of life by, for example, removal of children from their parents and bringing them up in a completely different culture, speaking a different language.

Even on this rather loose definition of genocide,

you would have to demonstrate that all the children of a certain group had been severed from their parents, not with the intention of protecting them from harms, but with that of extinguishing the language and culture into which they were born. I doubt that this could be done.

Such a use of the word genocide debases it,

and this (for me) is not without importance: for when you have used up the word genocide in describing a much lesser event, what word do you use when genocide, in the sense of the deliberate physical extinction of a whole ethnic group, occurs? The emotional force or charge of the word genocide will have been dissipated by its overuse, and familiarity breeds indifference.

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: