A Century of Genocide
The problem is that power attracts evil people. If you are a murderous psychopath, better to be the one making the laws than breaking them.
In just about the last century alone, the following countries have suffered genocide: Germany, Soviet Union, Poland, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia), China, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq, Armenia, Darfur, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Greece, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.
And unfortunately, that list is surely incomplete. It also does not include war; genocide is the systematic massacre of civilians, generally of a particular ethnic, religious, or political class. Every one of these genocides has been carried out by a government, or with the government supplying, backing, or supporting the mass murder.
This is devastating to think about, but an important perspective. Governments are very dangerous. And it is crucial to remember this even in the best of times. It is the reason even the most benevolent government should never be given even the slightest power to ignore individual rights.
Most genocides have decades-long build-ups, they don’t simply happen overnight. A disarmed populace could wait quietly for a quarter century before being violently attacked. When the genocide comes, the people in government may be entirely different than the policymakers who disarmed the people.
This is the problem with collectivism, with mob rule. The winds can turn violently against a minority at any time. The minority is not always ethnic–in Cambodia, the educated classes were slaughtered. Wearing glasses made you a target. Ukraine was targeted by Stalin because they were least supportive of the Soviet Union. Famines were orchestrated to suppress and murder political opponents.
The genocides in Rwanda and Burundi were between the Hutus and Tutsis. They were not rival tribes or ethnically different peoples. Belgian colonials separated the Hutus and Tutsis by cosmetic characteristics. Shorter, thicker, darker people were labeled Hutu, and taller, lankier, lighter skinned people were labeled Tutsi. Tensions would boil for over 50 years before escalating to genocide.
Genocides in places like Darfur and North Korea are ongoing. Other places like Venezuela and Nicaragua are fomenting tragedy.
At least 135 Nicaraguans have been killed by government forces since April. Protesters have taken to the streets after third-term President Daniel Ortega has come down increasingly hard on the political opposition. There is some evidence that killings, torture, and other human rights abuses have been authorized by the highest level of government.
Yet despite being gunned down by government forces, protesters are still taking the high road while attempting to protect themselves. People have begun building homemade mortars, which at this point are still loaded with non-lethal mortar shells. The protesters say the intent is to push back and intimidate government forces who would otherwise violently advance on the civilians who are calling for human rights to be respected.
Demand for the makeshift shells has jumped in recent weeks as anti-government protesters seek to fend off President Daniel Ortega’s riot police, who are accused of unleashing deadly violence as the Central American country faces a sociopolitical crisis.
In the clandestine outpost, a man sporting sunglasses and an azure-blue face protector hand-mixes the mortar bombs, a concoction of potassium chlorate with carbon, sulfur, aluminum and a bit of sand for weight.
“We’re living in a critical moment,” he says, refusing to give his name for security reasons. That same day a Nicaraguan rights group announced that a 19-year-old student had been shot and killed, the 135th death linked to the unrest that has gripped the country since April 18.
Speaking from the makeshift workshop he dubs “Monimbo Makers” — named after the Masaya neighborhood that championed the rebellion that brought Ortega to power, but where residents are now turning on the leftist ruler — he says mortars are a form of protest and self-defense that “don’t leave mortal wounds.”
“This is a way to protect ourselves during this struggle,” he says.
In response, the government has clamped down on gunpowder sales, and the cost of manufacturing homemade mortars has risen accordingly. But so far protesters have been able to largely hold back government forces using stones, slingshots, Molotov cocktails, and mortars. No police have been reportedly killed by protesters.
But some protesters are already looking forward, expecting protests to turn into a full-scale civil war.
Facing violence from government-backed forces, some Nicaraguans appear ready to take up arms.
“For me, what is happening is a staggered civil war,” said a student leader known as “El Gato” who is among the hundreds who have occupied Managua university grounds in protest for more than a month.
“Most of us don’t want to see it like that, but personally I think there is going to have to be a moment in this story when we’re going to have to arm ourselves to be on the same level as them,” he said.
And philosophically, how could Ortega even say the people are wrong for doing so? In 1979, Ortega’s guerrilla fighters took control of the government from a Dictator. It is the right of the people to fight back in the face of oppression.
In the U.S. We Have Guns
Unfortunately, shows of force are sometimes the only thing that works to repel an attacker.
Consider the case of the Bundy Ranch, where armed protesters held off government forces. The feds wanted to kick the Bundys off land on which the family had been grazing cattle since the 1800s. Rumors swirled that the land was to be taken and given to a corporation for a crony deal involving former Senator Reid. It was later revealed that the government had positioned snipers ready to kill. Agents from the Bureau of Land Management and FBI also spoke behind the scenes in a dehumanizing manner of the protesters–one of the 8 stages of genocide. In the end, a whistleblower revealed the corruption of the government officials in trying to prosecute the Bundys, and the case was dismissed.
Of course, that is a rare win. When it came to Ruby Ridge in 1992, the armed standoff resulted in the tragic murders of Vicki and Sammy Weaver. But despite a U.S. Marshal being killed during the standoff, Randy Weaver was eventually acquitted of all serious charges.
Government agents fared even worse the following year when they laid siege to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas. Four agents were killed in the siege. But unfortunately, 76 innocent people were burned or suffocated to death in a fire when the government tried to raid the compound.
Obviously, these events were not victories for anyone involved. But they did expose the heavy-handed nature of the government. It forced a reckoning for government agencies. Both agents and administrators had to decide if these types of oppressive operations were worth dying over.
And that should be on any oppressor’s mind when they move to put their boot on an innocent face: is this worth dying over?
The Ruby Ridge case is especially egregious, as the accusations were so minor, and agents could have easily apprehended Randy Weaver peacefully on one of his frequent trips to town. Regardless of the deeper philosophical issues with the role of government in these scenarios, the procedures were all wrong in each case. And the government agents were rebuffed through armed resistance.
The point here is not to encourage armed resistance to the government. That is almost certain to lead to your death.
But as we have seen from the last century of history, the government often needs no provocation to kill. And under those circumstances, fighting back is the only recourse.
If government forces were to ever attempt to carry out mass murder or genocide in the United States, they know they will meet substantial armed resistance. And that is a check on tyrannical power that as history shows, all too often arises from the ranks of powerful governments.
The Individual Solution
We are optimistic. Never has information been so easy to spread. Everyone has a top-notch recording device in their pocket. Evil people cannot get away with as much as they used to, undetected. The advent of the internet and unprecedented ability of people to travel and communicate will make it nearly impossible to carry out the mass murder that characterized 20th-century governments.
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You don’t want to be caught off guard. You always want a plan B, options, alternatives, tools.
People tend to mock others who think the right to self-defense extends to defending against tyrannical governments. They ask what your rifles and sidearms would do against fighter jets and tanks. But guerrilla fighters are notoriously difficult opponents to beat. And the only alternative when the government decides to target your group is to lay down and die.
Cody Wilson made waves a few years back by creating plans for a 3-d printed gun. Now his company, Defense Distributed, makes and sells “ghost gunners”–$1,200 automatic milling machines which legally create AR-15 lower receivers with no serial numbers, and require limited human input. Now these machines can also create handguns. They are small enough to ship, and fit on a table.
It is impossible to truly prevent innovative humans from acquiring the tools they need to survive. This includes surviving in the face of genocidal governments.
Don’t get us wrong, we truly hope it never comes down to having to defend against a murderous government. But history shows us that unfortunately, governments commit genocide… a lot. It would almost be the exception to the rule if a government didn’t commit some sort of atrocity over a 100 year period.
But the real point of individuals being ready and willing to defend themselves is the deterrent factor. However evil–or brainwashed–someone may be, they generally still don’t want to die.
You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.
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