On the Shame of Living Through Times of Genocide

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

I suffered from suicidal ideation yesterday.

No, that’s not right. I shouldn’t say that. Mental illness is still a taboo. I shouldn’t say if I ever have suicidal ideation because that would make me unemployable.

So, let’s try that again.

I wanted to kill myself yesterday.

There. Better. Less wordy and more to the point.

One of my best friends on this planet, someone I see as family, told me recently that “skinfolk ain’t always kinfolk”. How right she was. I had that saying in mind when Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said that she was looking forward to a “final solution” to the current Israel-Palestine “conflict”.

A final solution.

A fucking final solution.

Reinhard Heydrich and Henry Kissinger must be toasting to Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s health somewhere in Hell. The beasts speak plainly, but we refuse to listen.

I suffer from two near-terminal illnesses. One is clinical depression. The other is empathy. There’s treatment for the first, and rest reassured that I am on it like Lockheed-Martin is to the business of killing brown children the world over. The second, well… there’s no cure for empathy. But there are ways to curb your empathy, and the key is dehumanization.

Dehumanization, you say! Yes, indeed! And what’s even best is that dehumanization is absolutely free. No hidden costs, no late fees, no price-gouging from Big Pharma®. It does what it says on the tin, too: it extricates and completely removes all semblance of humanity from an individual. It can even be administered in larger doses to an entire population, also free of charge. A true wonder drug. And it’s chemical-free, to boot! No pesky imaginary autism links or 5G microchips with this baby!

We all need dehumanization at this point. To be human… ah, such a lovely fiction. Reason. Rights. Rule of law. Communal wellbeing. Societal cohesion. Dehumanization takes care of all of that. You no longer give a shit about anyone. Rape? Murder? Genocide? Systemic racism? Mass incarceration? Political and racial repression? Pfft. All gone. Like magic.

But how does it work, you ask? Simple! All you have to do is rewrite your language. Twist words around, like compassion or self-defense, to mean their exact opposites. Or remove them all together. Children “die in explosion” instead of “are murdered by aerial bombardment”. Keep it foggy. Play it fast and loose. Facts only get in the way of a good narrative. Oh, and speaking of facts, just have your state’s security apparatus collude with your allies’ and fabricate stuff. People won’t think. They’ll eat your story up because the state and the media wouldn’t lie. I mean, sure, they lie all the time, but it’s all about conditioning! TELL them that all they say is true. Tell them that police always help and are never racist. Tell them repeatedly that they live in the best country in the world and that people might hate them because they’re jealous, or worse, ARABS.

Ah, the Arab. All due respect to George Lucas, but they’re the real phantom menace, aren’t they? Decades of, and here we go again, DEHUMANIZATION, and we’ve primed the West to not only accept but embrace genocide. Genocide! Remember when that word meant something? The absolute worst thing humanity could do. Well, now thanks to dehumanization, it’s nothing at all! It’s “self-defense” at its best!

Western civilization. What a goddamned lie that is. Humanitarianism. Rule of law. All bullshit. Always was bullshit. This consequence-free mass-killing has only made Israel’s brutality increase orgiastically. It is now glaringly obvious to many how colonialism never went away, although those of us that live in an American imperial colony already knew that.

Hello. My name is Miguel A. Cruz Díaz, and I wanted to kill myself yesterday. I am a doctoral candidate at a university that despises free speech and openly persecutes Palestinians at the behest of fascists donors. I majored in a field that is populated, I have come to understand, by mutes. Silence is enforced by my guild, you understand. Silence and compliance. We are too wedded to Zionism in the United States if you write or research history. It is everywhere. Our long relationship to the State Department during the Cold War saw to that. We are censored, blacklisted, or fired for expressing an opinion that runs counter to the status quo. Ask Steven Salaita about freedom of speech.

Hello. My name is Miguel A. Cruz Díaz, and I wanted to kill myself yesterday. I was born in an American imperial colony. Empire, the dirty word. We can’t be an empire, we’re the good guys, right? I’ve even had American historians tell me that the United States was never an Empire. To my face. A COLONIAL citizen. The American Empire is and always has been a force for evil, for ethnic cleansing, for racial discrimination, for police brutality, for concentration camps in the border, and for endless killing. Our country excels at killing. We’ve even convinced ourselves that our nuclear war crimes in Japan were justified. We never do wrong.

Hello. My name is Miguel A. Cruz Díaz, and I wanted to kill myself yesterday. Because it physically hurts to live in a world where it feels like we have abandoned all pretense of reason. Where the Global South finally attempts to rise up against the racist and genocidal North but is tripped up by a rigged system. Internationalism is a vile lie unless it refers to a select club of death-dealing ethno-nationalist rogue states still playing at empire, all the while engaged in ecocide and ruthless economic fascism.

Hello. My name is Miguel A. Cruz Díaz, and I wanted to kill myself yesterday. Because I saw a child blown in half, dismembered by Zionist bombs more than likely provided by our own fucking country.  Yet another nameless victim of Israel’s madness. No, not nameless.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. She was seven years old.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. I paid for the bombs that killed her.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. She was blown apart.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. I saw her dead body on social media.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. I wanted to kill myself.

I feel shame for being alive. I do not want to be alive while everyone else can go around pretending like nothing is happening. Reducing this to an academic exercise. Calling a genocide a “war”. At least the god damned Nazis tried to hide what they did.

Compartmentalize, they tell me. Get it out of your head and get your stuff done. Finish your work. How the Hell am I supposed to write my dissertation while the world’s on fire? Jesus wept, I’m writing about a dead fascist while a living one is committing genocide, but I’m supposed to be impartial, right? I’m expected to turn off my humanity and take one for the team, right?

Dehumanize. Dehumanize. Dehumanize.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. She’s dead. My name is Miguel A. Cruz Díaz. I want to take her place. I want her to come back. I want her to live again. But I can’t. And I hate myself for it. I hate so many of you for letting this happen. And I will hate most of you for voting for the sadistic killer that pretends to run our country next November, because you are all murderers just like him.

Her name was Sidra Hassouna. You killed her. I killed her. And for a moment I wished I was dead.

And yet I insist on screaming to the unhearing. The biggest horror in the eyes of liberal academia regarding the ongoing genocide perpetrated by the illegal state of Israel is that many of us refused to stay silent, to look the other way, to fall in line and regurgitate the same old scripted response. Some of us cannot do that. Some of us refuse to look away because we cannot forfeit our basic humanity.

Humanity. What a laughable concept. We’re not human. We’re the most basic and vile species of predatory animal ever spat out by this planet. Intellect and malice all tied up in a wonderful little package of hate. There exists a bottomless chasm between academics of the Global North and those of the South. Two completely opposite realities. The ones in the north have the comfort of their own lies. The ones in the south have the horror of true existence.

Our world is ruled by the monstrous and the blind. Let that be the epitaph to our long-dead humanity.

Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz is a fifth-year graduate student and doctoral candidate in British and world history at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he specializes in anarchist history. A native son of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, he currently resides in Bloomington. He has published in CounterPunch and in the Spanish-language publication Revista Cruce.