Re: Mass-killings

Arjen Kamphuis (
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 23:37:52 +0200

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> wrote:
>Yes, I've heard it argued that the Holocaust was merely one in a long string
>of genocides. There have been a long string of genocides. This is true. But
>the Holocaust stands apart even from them. 11 million people die every
>of months, simply from normal death rates. It's not that Holocaust victims
>were killed, it's that they were tortured to death.

What do you think was done to several million Kossacks in Siberia? What do
you think happened to several million Chinese used for Bio-war testing by
the Japanese in WW-II?
Among those 11 million were my grandparents so yes, I too can get a bit
emotional when this comes up (not that I ever knew them, being born in 1972
- but they were family). In spite of this I do not believe there's no
fundamental difference. Except that it happened 'on our doorstep'.

>Are the survivors of Chad, Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ceylon,
>Birma as scarred mentally as the survivors of the Holocaust were? Some
>Holocaust survivors still sleep with a loaf of bread at night.

Go to the video store and hire "The killing fields".
Watch it 3 or 4 times, then tell me what you think.
Make sure you have someone nearby to discuss it with.

>The Nazis took genocide to a new level, not in numbers,
>but in cold-blooded cruelty.

Again, in spite of my own emotional involvement, I can't see the difference
between the horrors of '39-'45 and the terrible things that happened in
various communist country's right up to this moment (China - N-korea).

>I wouldn't argue with anyone who called Chad, Cambodia, or a crack ghetto a
>"continuing Holocaust". Far from mocking the dead, this would prevent
>tragedies. Nor would I argue if someone wanted to add a fourth floor to the
>Holocaust exhibition, documenting ongoing genocides around the world.

Now, there's a good, contructive, idea! This is an Exibition in the US? or
somewhere else?

>But, as human history demonstrates, genocide was once as fashionable as
>theories of racial superiority. If not for the Holocaust, we might today
>cheerfully dismiss Chad and Cambodia as the extinction of vermin.

I sure as hell would not!
And I can only hope that you would not either, you're much to smart to such
a thing anyway.

>associating something not instinctively abhorrent, genocide, with something
>that is instinctively abhorrent, torture, the Holocaust made genocide as
>unfashionable as theories of racial superiority.

Both may be unfashionable in your neighborhood, racial theories still kill,
asks any Rwandese genocide victim. this happened just a few years ago! in
the nineties! It's not over folks, it's just not being covered so extensively.

>But, speaking as a
>human, we are simply not sensitive to the deaths of people we don't know.
>It provokes no instinctive reaction in us.

I'm sorry here we have a most serious disagreement (*most* serious).
But maybe you've never seen someone die. I hope you won't ever have to,
even though it is quite a learning experience (beats years of university,
hand down)

>Suffering, on the other hand,
>provokes compassion and anger. And the Nazis systematically inflicted the
>greatest density of suffering ever seen in human history.

What is the basis for this last statement? There is no way to measure human
suffering, Can you imagine a thousand bodies? So how do you imagine the
difference between 11 million gassed/starved nazi-victims to unknown
millions of chinese farmers that worked themselves to deah to bring about
Mao's 'Great Leap Forward'. Both are simply 'unimaginable'.

>The Holocaust
>surpasses our capabilities of compassion and anger. Perhaps any genocide
>should. But we cannot grasp a genocide directly; we can only read reports of
>it. The Holocaust stands alone in that even the reports and the pictures are
>enough to overload our responses.

I appreciate that the exibition shocked the hell out of you, that is not a
bad thing, it merely shows you're human (Sorry Anders).
Maybe I'm different but those images have not 'overloaded' my responses
since I was ten. Seeing the UN do nothing for several years whilst women
and children were being shelled with artillery got me pretty pissed though.
Seeing a little boy die from sniperfire (no not on TV!) damm-near did the job.

Eliezer, in other coutry's persons you're age are seasoned veterans of some
pointless civil-war, they have *done* the kind of things you get overloaded
by just looking at pictures of them.

Read some contemporary history, and hold-on to someone you love while
you're at it. It helps.

Sorry for this rant, and sorry if I seem to be a cold-blooded son-of-bitch.
It's just a protective mechanism.
I need a drink.

Arjen Kamphuis | Learn as if you will live forever. | Live as though you will die tomorrow.