FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Genocide Scholar “Silenced” on Academic List For Comments About Bombing of Afghanistan

by CounterPunch Wire

Genocide scholar Adam Jones claims he has been “silenced” on H-Genocide, an academic mailing list for the genocide-studies community, after attempting to post materials and commentary on the U.S.-led military campaign against Afghanistan.

Jones, 38, is a Canadian professor of international studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. He is executive director of Gendercide Watch, a Web-based educational initiative that confronts gender-selective atrocities against men and women worldwide.

In three consecutive rejected posts to the H-Genocide list, to which he subscribes, Jones cited testimony from humanitarian organizations and United Nations staffers to the effect that the bombing campaign against Afghanistan was the major impediment to the delivery of desperately-needed food aid to the Afghan civilian population. In the first post (12 October 2001), Jones asked: “If coalition leaders are aware of the present situation, as most of the major humanitarian agencies and international media appear to be, and choose to continue the bombing in coming weeks … could any resulting largescale mortality legitimately be termed genocidal?” (For the full text of the rejected posts, and correspondence with the H-Genocide list editor, see http://adamjones.freeservers.com/h-genocide.html.)

Jones has also been outspokenly critical of the Taliban regime’s attempts to impede the delivery of humanitarian aid. In his second rejected post to H-Genocide (22 October 2001), he expressed “strong criticism of the Taliban’s recent behaviour towards foreign aid-workers, local staff, and food stocks in the country. If the Allies are indeed angling for genocide, the Taliban, with their harassment, assaults, and seizures, seem more than prepared to play the same ‘game’.”

List editor Alan Jacobs’ reply to Jones’s second attempted post stated that the H-Genocide editorial board’s “overwhelming opinion was that we were not going to publish a message that escalated the human tragedy that is developing to the status of genocide. This was seen … [as] a rather large error.” In response, Jones wrote (in the third rejected post, 23 October 2001): “There seems to me a fundamental question to be asked here. Is it up to the list editors to decide what can legitimately be considered a genocide and which interpretations are ‘erroneous,’ and to accept or reject posts on this basis? Is not the appropriate place to discuss and debate this issue the list itself?”

“TERRORIST APOLOGISM”

The visceral response of the H-Genocide editors to posts perceived as “anti-American” was amply on display in the invective they directed against Jones. In excerpted comments from their decisions, forwarded to Jones at his request on 24 October 2001, editorial board members referred to him as “a loose cannon” whose writings were “libelous and disgraceful” and evoked “anger and revulsion”; and who taught at “a hot-bed of anti-American and anti-Western thought.” (Jones’s institution, CIDE, is in fact a small, exceedingly mainstream research institute in the Mexican capital.) One editorial-board member accused Jones of “terrorist apologism [of the type] that is unfortunately becoming popular among the enemies of this great country [i.e., the United States],” while another claimed he is “simply sophomoric or … intentionally manipulative.” Eight out of nine list editors are based in the United States.

The rejection of the posts, and the editorial board’s comments about Jones, have generated significant controversy in the genocide-studies community. In a message to list editor Jacobs (25 October 2001), Norwegian scholar Hans Egil Offerdal wrote: “The responses that the editorial board has given is [sic] based on prejudice and a political philosophy that at best can be described as reactionary.” British genocide scholar Mark Levene also wrote to Jacobs on 25 October 2001: “If there is any scholarly arena where … the right to free opinion should be upheld it is surely in the field of [genocide] studies. In this context your committee’s muzzling of Dr Jones’ views is nothing short of outrageous.”

The “muzzling” is part of a broader pattern, according to Thomas Taaffe of the University of Massachusetts. “Censorship of any comments which even seem to criticize U.S. foreign policy has been rampant on this supposedly international listserve [H-Genocide], while others have had free reign to advocate military action against the Taliban, even before the events of September 11th. It is quite ironic for a listserve supposedly dedicated to preserving life.” (Message to Jones, 25 October 2001.)

In response to the apparent censorship on H-Genocide, Jones and others have created a new mailing list, Genocide_Studies, on Topica.com. Among its stated purposes is to “serve as an alternative outlet for posts rejected by the H-Genocide editorial board.”

“It’s clear to me that what has taken place on H-Genocide in the past couple of weeks is nothing less than the politically-inspired censorship of alternative views,” Jones stated from his office in Mexico City. “As such, it seems amply in keeping with the ‘chill’ that has descended over political discussion and debate in the United States, and elsewhere, since the atrocities of September 11. But it is particularly disturbing to see a censorious mindset reigning among editors of a mailing list that claims to ‘make every effort to encourage a free exchange of ideas’.

“This is doubly indefensible when, if the bleakest assessments are accurate, we could be facing mass civilian death on a scale seen only rarely, if ever, since the Second World War. To the extent that I and other genocide scholars and activists are able to call attention to the actions of the H-Genocide editors, this needs to serve the immeasurably larger purpose of generating urgent concern for the people of Afghanistan. The humanitarian crisis has been grossly underreported in the U.S. press so far.

“It is a legitimate question whether mass death from starvation, crucially spurred by Allied bombing, could be called ‘genocide’,” Jones said. “I personally think it could. Other genocide specialists could reasonably disagree — if they were allowed to hear the proposition put to them in the first place. It’s a real shame that the discussion can’t take place on H-Genocide.

“But whatever terminology we use won’t make a shred of difference to Afghans who have starved to death. It may already be too late to save hundreds of thousands of them. If it isn’t, and even if it is, the coming days and weeks are critical. I very much hope that moral policies will prevail, and aid will reach those who need it. But I’ve seen no sign of this so far, and time is terrifyingly short.”

Relevant web links: H-Genocide mailing list: composition of editorial board: http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~genocide/editorial-board.html H-Genocide statement of editorial policy: http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~genocide/editorial-policy.html H-Genocide general information page: http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~genocide/ Genocide_Studies mailing list: http://www.topica.com/lists/genocide_studies

Adam Jones can be reached by e-mail at adam.jones@cide.edu

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail