It’s Not Genocide When We Do It

Amnesia and denial in the North Korea narrative

A painting of the U.S. 65th Infantry Regiment’s bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War (Wikimedia Commons)
Korean refugees, 1952 (Wikimedia Commons)

Killing millions of innocent people, huh?

Why does that sound familiar? Oh yeah — because it sounds like genocide.

  1. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  2. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  3. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  4. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Should we start calling the “Korean War” the “Korean Genocide” instead?

I admit this rebranding is unlikely to catch on. I’m sure you’ve heard the famous American slogan, “It’s not terrorism when we do it.” Well, our collective view on this topic is quite similar: “It’s not genocide when we do it.” Now imagine Sam saying this, confidently, in a deep and soothing voice, maybe while wearing an Armani suit and smoking a fat cigar. He exhales a sexy gust of smoke as he runs his ring-clad fingers through his beautiful head of salt and pepper hair. Pretty convincing, huh? American involvement in the Korean War wasn’t genocidal because of good old fashioned flag-sucking jingoism and delusional American exceptionalism. We’re the good guys, God damn it! (And, even judging by the official U.N. definition, the difference between a genocide and simply killing millions of people might literally be the perpetrators saying they didn’t “intend to destroy” the group in question.)

Communist. Herbivore. Husband. Artist. I primarily write about politics and history. My work has also been published by The Hampton Institute.

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