This was originally going to be a post arguing that people who legislate climate change denial are committing crimes against humanity. While purposeful ignorance of the effects of climate change is rather genocidal to island nations, and I do think this is itself worthy of a post, I’m now instead discussing the term “crime against humanity” itself, as a consequence of flushing out thoughts on what I’d write in this blog post while in the shower.
The term “crime against humanity” is intended to label an act, typically a war crime, or systematic murder and ethnic cleansing, as atrocious and far beyond the reaches of what can be considered humane. Crimes against humanity are so appallingly disgusting that it they are a disrespect and disgrace to all of humanity for being able to happen.
But the term “crime against humanity” sounds an awful lot like the word “un-American” in notion. That is, it labels an act as centrally against what makes us us, for some level of “us”. The accusation against an alleged un-American act is that the act fails to meet the standards of American morality and values, and the threat conveyed to the accused is that they will land themselves outside the circle of identity of most of the community.
So how high is the bar of American values, this esteemed highland of morality? At that of a country that has…systematically persecuted and killed the native population of the land, relentlessly oscillated among ethnicities of immigrants to vilify, funded genocidal regimes in foreign countries in the name of anti-communism, exhibited a level of gun violence unimaginable in many other developed countries, and ironically tarnished its foundation of liberty by outlawing slavery later than nearly all other developed countries. This is the proud country whose moral standards the accused have failed to meet. It turns out not only is the label “un-American” a bringer of artificial enmity, it also is vividly hypocritical.
And on this note, I’d like to ask: where is the moral bar for the human species? The human is distinguished by actually having concepts of murder and war: a thirst for blood beyond that which just seeks nutrition. The human is a species that kills 10 million times as many sharks as are killed by them, yet consistently produces media claiming the sharks are the monsters. No species has demonstrated as blazing a contempt for nature as has the human. What is the “humanity” that “crimes against humanity” have failed to respect? What is humane, what moral quality is it the human supposedly naturally exhibits, if the history of the human is that of a species that could not wait to exhibit inhumanity again?
There is no humanity crimes against humanity are against. Crimes against humanity are really crimes of humanity, a systemic plague within the human species, a species too weak to avoid casting off each instance of inhumanity as not its problem, unable to accept its record far too tainted for “humane” to be a properly reflecting word.