Eight steps to genocide

As we look across the world we see terrible violence and wholesale slaughter of innocents and combatants alike. When do these egregious acts rise to the level of genocide? Genocide is not an accident and there are eight traceable steps necessary to generate a genocidal episode.

They are as follow:
1. Classification: which creates an “us vs. them.”

  1. Symbolization: which gives names and symbols to what we classify, e.g., the yellow star
    the Nazis forced Jews to wear.
  2. Dehumanization: which denies the humanity of the “other,” i.e. calling Jews pigs and dogs.
  3. Organization: genocide is done by groups, not individuals.
  4. Polarization: driving groups of people apart.
  5. Preparation: forcing groups into ghettos, separating them by religious or ethnic identity
  6. Extermination: begins and quickly becomes mass killing legally called “genocide.”
  7. Denial: always follows genocide.

I do not know which is more frightening, the point that we have had enough genocidal episodes that social scientists can generate such a list or the fact that after the Holocaust, the world continues to generate such horror.

By Glenn Jacob

Rabbi, Community Leader, Fundraiser, Board Development, Non-profit management, strategic planning, educator, writer, and editor.

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