“To Kill a People:” John Cox speaks on Holocaust and genocide

IMG_0265 (1) copy

Naomi O’conner/The Carolinian

Aden Hizkias
    Staff Writer

This past Saturday, February 20, Professor John Cox led a discussion about genocide at Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro.

Cox is the Director of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies.

“I grew up in Greensboro and I grew up very aware of the sit-ins which occurred only a couple of years before I was born. And so I was raised with a deep awareness of racism and the injustice,” said Cox.

Cox, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, reminisced on his college years, which were during the anti-apartheid movement.

He believes that his social activism conversed with intellectual interest with the Holocaust, which led to his study of genocide overall.

Professor Cox has published a recent book, To Kill A People, that attempts to understand genocide.

The book looks at four case studies of four major genocides, which include the Armenian by the Ottoman Empire, the Nazi Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, and the Rwandan genocide.

“In Rwanda the killing was more efficient than the Nazi genocide, believe it or not. It had about 800,000 people killed in 100 days.” said Cox.

Cox stated that the idea of race is something invented by humans in the last 400 years.

The professor believes that everyone is of one race and that it is mostly near the turn of the century that races had been defined to the extreme.

Cox stated that in the year 1900, everyone in the room would have been considered a different race jokingly stating that someone was, ‘The race of the dark red sweater people, that’s how crazy it was.’

His book attempts to analyze the different factors of genocide such as imperialism, nationalism, and injustice.

The book also tries to understand how and why individuals can become capable of violent crimes within certain contexts such as warfare.

“Genocide almost arises in modern times in the context of warfare. It’s a regime that feels threatened and the internal group that they want to destroy is an external threat,” said Cox.

Cox elaborated on how religion could play into certain warfare or genocidal scenarios.

He describes genocide as “pervasive phenomenon,” and believes that most of the time religion is usurped by actors such as states that use this as a tool to immobilize certain areas and generate support for war.

He used the example of the Armenian genocide in relation to religion saying that the Ottoman Empire used Islam to generate interest for the war.

Cox described religion as a multifaceted and complicated tool that can ironically be used and manipulated for ill but that also has a core message of peace.

The United Nations defines genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…”

Cox believes that the term “intent” needs to be more creative in how it is interpreted.

He told his audience that individuals should be more understanding and knowing rather than putting all the emphasis on the national government or international relations that may have more than one motive in intervening.

Cox hopes that through public speaking and the classes he teaches he will be able to stimulate interest and encourage people to think more deeply on how they fit into the world.

“I hope by teaching genocide studies, it helps to raise awareness and vigilance…about injustice in our midst.” he said.

Categories: Human Interest, News, Uncategorized, UNCG Students

Tags: , , ,

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: