Re: Ecocide; genocide; Indian wars

Maggie Jaffe (mjaffe@MAIL.SDSU.EDU)
Fri, 22 May 1998 07:37:16 -0800

Dear Sixties People:

Forgive my jumping in here without exactly following all the line of
arguments. In terms of the Vietnam war, I've often heard of the word
"ecocide" (systematic destruction of the earth), and not genocide, used to
describe the specific military strategy in the VN War. Of course, that has
its precedence in the "scorched earth" policy which was practiced as long
as there were wars.

What disturbs me about the question of genocide is the US's back pedaling
on the issue. According to Ward Churchill, the United States refused to
sign the 1946 United Nations Genocide Convention (which was in response to
the Nazi "Final Solution") for forty years. The 100th Congress finally did
ratify it only after "the Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Package" reduced
"the convention to nothing more than a mere symbol of opposition to
genocide" (*Indians Are Us?* 17).

My "found" poem, a phone conversation taken down almost verbatim, confirms
my belief that the genocide "package" wasn't signed for 40 years until it
was watered down enough so that the stigma of genocide wouldn't be
associated with the wars with Indians. Genocide *was* the official US
policy, beginning with Washington who was known as "Old Town Destroyer" by
his enemies.

Can't Happen Here

The poster announced a Conference on Genocide
at a southern California university.
Represented were Jews, Armenians, Cambodians,
even Gypsies, but no American Indians.
I phoned the professor in charge,
who had "thought of including Indians,
but the students decided against it."
He explained: "Indians don't fall
within the dictionary
definition of Gen*o*cide,
namely 'the systematic,
planned extermination of a people.'"
"You don't think invasion, land theft,
chronic murder of civilians & the slaughter
of 50 million bison with the intention of starving
Indian people, wasn't planned?"
"No," he said, "we just went too far."