by David Cole
Professor Mohammed Abed is a man with a message: Genocide has gotten a bum rap. Sure, genocide can be bad, but in a pinch, genocide might just be your best friend…especially if you’re a “person of color.” Indeed, Abed reasons, it’s sometimes “morally required” to commit genocide, and he hasn’t been shy about advancing that argument in a series of lectures and essays that have somehow managed to stay under the radar of the media (especially the right-leaning media) over the past few years.
Abed, a tenure-track professor of ethics, social & political philosophy, and classical Islamic philosophy, believes that, in large part due to the overbearing historical presence of the Holocaust, the definition of genocide has become unnecessarily narrow. When someone cries “genocide” these days, folks expect to see gas chambers, crematoria, and Nazis stuffing Jewish children into trains. This “Holocaust standard” for genocide, Abed claims, betrays the vision of the fellow who invented the term, Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin, Abed argues, always intended for his gift to the lexicon to have a more open-ended, fluid definition. There are lots of ways to make a people, a culture, or a society disappear, and more often than not, there won’t be gas chambers, ovens, or manically emoting Hitlers.
It’s a fair point, and an appropriate topic for a professor of philosophy. But you know there’s gotta be more, right? Of course there is. Abed also claims that sometimes you just have to commit genocide in order to save the world, or some corner of it, from bad people…like racist whites!
Abed, a Palestinian whose views on Israel are not exactly “chummy,” deserves the right to have his say in his own words, and he’ll get it, very shortly. But first, I want to point out exactly where this guy works: the philosophy department at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Heard of that fine institution? It’s the public university in L.A. where students and teachers use violence and intimidation in order to keep anyone on the right from speaking on campus. Remember when invited speaker Ben Shapiro had to be escorted off the CSULA campus by police because angry, violent protesters stormed the event? Remember how CSULA forced the organizers of Shapiro’s speech to cough up the dough for extra security, a burden not placed on the school’s many far-left student groups? I have little doubt that had Shapiro been shot in the head during his aborted speech, the university would have charged the cost of the bullet to his family.
Last week, during congressional hearings regarding the sorry state of free speech on college campuses in the U.S., CSULA was frequently cited as an example of just how bad things are. Indeed, no less than the Huffington Post…yes, the Huffington Post…ran a piece about how CSULA is among the “worst of the worst” regarding the suppression of speech. For the record, CSULA also made headlines recently because of its segregated “no whites” safe-space housing for black students.
Abed’s academic paper “The Concept of Genocide Reconsidered” was originally published in 2006. Since then, it’s been approvingly cited in numerous highly regarded publications, including The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies and The Concept of Cultural Genocide, and Abed has expanded on his treatise in lectures at various colleges and universities around the country. The version of the essay I’ll cite is from 2015.
Abed lays out his central thesis in the paper’s abstract: “Genocide is not in any sense distinctively heinous. Nor is it necessarily immoral.”
Morally justified genocide? Abed realizes this might be a tough sell:
Many will no doubt be shocked by these claims. Surely a view that has such unsavory implications should be rejected. In fact, it ought to be condemned in no uncertain terms. Reactions of this sort are overblown.
Of course, any such objections by fellow academics were almost certainly silenced once Abed named the skin color of the targets of his “moral genocide”:
Southern whites in particular. Full post at links above.