The American Holocaust is the topic of the following lecture by David Stannard, professor and chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Hawaii. Specifically, he examines the manufactured controversy in discussing the history of Native Americans with the terms genocide and holocaust.
During the course of his argument, Stannard criticises modern day apologists for the genocide of Native Americans including Christopher Hitchens and Benny Morris. Morris, in particular, for his justification of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians using the example of the American Indians: quoting Morris, “[t]here are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing,” he adds “[e]ven the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.” Or as he also, rather disturbingly, put it, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands.” Therefore the terms and significance given to the crimes against the Native Americans also take on international importance as the example of America is used to justify current and, perhaps, future crimes against humanity.
American Holocaust: The Destruction of America’s Native Peoples, a lecture by David Stannard, professor and chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Hawaii. Stannard, author of American Holocaust, asserts that the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most substantial act of genocide in world history. A combination of atrocities and imported plagues resulted in the death of roughly 95 percent of the native population in the Americas. Stannard argues that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust operated from the same ideological source as the architects of the Nazi Holocaust. That ideology remains alive today in American foreign policy, Stannard avers.
The 31st Annual Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series, the longest continuous Holocaust lecture series at an American university, takes the theme this year of (over) Sites of Memory and examines places that are infused with memories of genocide and the challenge to find effective ways to honor these memories.