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When We Call Genocidaires “Monsters”

black and white photograph of human skulls stacked on top of one another

Netflix’s The Devil Next Door, a docuseries about an elderly man in Ohio accused of being Nazi death camp guard, received critical acclaim. While the topic may be interesting, the title is noteworthy. It is not uncommon for different media to refer to genocidaires (a term usually used to describe perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide) as monsters or devils. Books, such as “Hitler’s Monsters” and “The Devil Came on Horseback” (about the genocide in Darfur), tabloid journalism, and periodicals utilize similar language.

Such language seems innocuous, even appropriate given the gravity of the perpetrators’ sin. After all, it would appear only monsters and devils would be capable of committing such a monstrous and hellish crime. Amidst the complexity of studying genocide, the one incontrovertible assertion is that genocidaires are indeed monsters and devils. Or is it?

Despite the labels’ ubiquity in popular culture and common parlance, there are a few reasons to believe that society should refrain from using such characterizations. Aside from the risk of dabbling in the same dehumanizing language used by the genocidaires themselves, such characterizations obscure one’s ability to understand how genocides unfold and serve to perpetuate a mythology of evil. Referring the agents as something other than human also removes their culpability, distancing human society from the inhuman perpetrators.

It is a weak and potentially regressive starting point for analyzing the causes of genocide. Are the genocidaires born monsters? Or do they become monsters? How can we spot the monsters before they commit genocide? How do we stop them? How do we hold them accountable to human standards of justice and morality?

Perhaps the greatest obfuscation of these labels is that it makes the crime of crimes appear extremely unlikely, requiring the intervention of the Devil incarnate into Earth’s affairs. But in fact, it requires the participation of everyday human beings to plan and carry out a policy of genocide. They are civilians. They are neighbors. They are friends. They are relatives. While the act itself is the embodiment of horror, its organization and execution is disturbingly unexceptional.

The origin of this notion that only a supernatural, inhuman force of villainy could cause such heinous acts may be found in the horror stories of centuries past. John Douglas, a former FBI agent who spent his career studying the psychology of serial killers, claims novelists and storytellers created fictitious monsters to explain seemingly inexplicable murders and massacres. But we have the tools now to better explain past heinous acts in the pursuit of preventing future ones from occurring.

In their book, Architects of Annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction, Goetz Aly and Susanne Heim examine the role of German scientists and scholars in the Holocaust. These intellectuals posited deportation, ghettoization, displacement, sterilization, and mass murder as a solution to German’s population “problem”. As Goetz and Heim conclude, “To a very large extent the policy of annihilation was the product of a rational argument taken to a mercilessly logical conclusion.”

The two writers make another noteworthy observation: These intellectuals, who served as advisers to the civilian administrations and the SS, “did not match the stereotype of the zealous, narrow-minded Nazi ideologue, and who argued their case objectively and dispassionately.” In other words, they saw their advocacy for genocide as merely fulfilling their professional duty to advise the government, even though their scientific recommendations were glaringly absent of any consideration of the value of human life.

Rationalist accounts of genocide, such as Architects of Annihilation, focus on genocidal planning and cost-benefit analysis. Analyzing genocide as the logical end of a rational argument demystifies the crime and demonstrates that genocide is not a far-fetched phenomenon conjured by evil but rather policy option, requiring the participation of seemingly ordinary individuals to organize and execute. While rationalist accounts explain the logic of genocide, they fail to account for the ideological, racist, and irrational forces that seek to justify genocidal policy.

Structuralist accounts, on the other hand, seek to understand the macro-level features of society that permitted the genocide to occur. Ian Kershaw writes that a structuralist explanation of the Holocaust focuses the “ad-hoc responses of a splintered and disorderly government” which “produced an inevitable spiral of radicalization.” Zygmunt Berman made the highly influential assertion that modernity was a necessary condition for the Jews to be annihilated in systematic fashion. While this approach does not blame existing bureaucratic or larger societal forces for genocide, it does acknowledge the role these institutions and systems played in facilitating these acts and how their power was harnessed. Other accounts focus on the intent of the genocidaires, the purported causal linkage of colonialism and war, or the role of inflamed ethnic or cultural animosities.

But notice, among the variety of serious explanatory tools, none seek to ascribe a monstrous or satanic nature to the human perpetrators, partly because it fails to explain why or how genocide occurs. Of course, labeling genocidaires as “monsters” and “devils” does not prevent one from understanding the crime, but the labeling is conceptually inconsistent with any accurate explanation and also unintentionally denies the perpetrators’ human moral responsibility. It discounts the very real possibility of this very human phenomenon.

As Hanna Arendt noted, this evil is banal. The devil next door is no devil at all. He is a human. And that might be even more frightening than the monsters our horror novels depict.

Uighur Genocide and the Wrong of Population Control

photograph of four Uighur women, one with a baby

An AP investigation has confirmed complaints from Uighur women that China has been sterilizing them against their will, and in fact discovered that these assaults have been more widespread than previously thought.

Since 2016, an estimated 1 million or more Uighurs have been detained in “re-education” camps. The new investigation highlights the relationship between pregnancy, fertility, and the threat of the camps: “Uighur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas [….] Women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children were involuntarily fitted with intrauterine contraceptives.”

By interfering with the reproductive choices of the potential parents, the Chinese government is interfering with the bodily integrity of individuals, and thus violating basic moral principles and fundamental human rights. China is specifically targeting a particular ethnic group with a policy that infringes on individuals’ reproductive autonomy. These acts constitute genocide according to the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

The first morally problematic feature of China’s policies is also the most commonplace and simple: government representatives are acting on members of the community against their will. This infringement of bodily autonomy is assault. There are a very limited number of situations where it is permissible to interfere with someone’s body absent consent, but these cases clearly do not qualify. Moreover, these policies interfere with people’s private desires regarding the formation of a family unit. Family identity and relationships can inform a great deal of one’s priorities and self-understanding; to take those relationships, networks, and choices away from individuals is a particular kind of harm.

Secondly, it is clear that these policies are a further element of oppression towards a population that China has been systematically disadvantaging for years. Uighurs in China have been isolated, surveilled, put into work and re-education camps, and exposed to varieties of mental and physical harms. The group subject to these forced sterilizations has been the target before of racist, bigoted policies aimed at affecting its population and the promulgation of its community in the future.

Given these policies aims and outcomes, China actions constitute genocide against the Uighurs. Many consider genocide to be limited to violent killings with the intent to eliminate an ethnic, racial, or religious minority, as in Myanmar (against Rohingya) in 2016 and again in 2018, or in Somalia (against Isaaqs)1987-8, in Rwanda (against Tutsis) 1994, in Bosnia (against Bosniaks) 1995, by ISIL (against Yazidis) 2014…. However, there are more ways to eliminate a group of people beyond presenting its members with a violent death.

Given that the act of sterilization is targeted towards an unwanted, oppressed community and, by its nature, serves to prevent births in the group and thereby limit its future population, China’s forcible sterilization of members of the Uighur population represents an act of genocide. As the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect states, “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: …d. imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

China is far from the first government body that has used the interference and control of reproduction, or the breaking down of the family unit, as a way to undermine or even eliminate an ethnicity or cultural group. Recent examples include:

  • In the fall of 2018, a group of Indigenous Canadian women filed a class-action suit against Saskatoon Health Authority, the provincial and federal governments, and some medical professionals claiming that doctors forcibly sterilized them over several decades, through the 2000s.
  • In the United States in the 20th century, 20,000 the government funded sterilizations performed in California disproportionately targeting African Americans and Latinos.
  • Further, California prisons have authorized sterilizations of nearly 150 female inmates between 2006 and 2010.  The state paid doctors $147,460 to perform tubal ligations that former inmates say were done under coercion.
  • In 2003, an investigative report documented grave human rights violations against Romani women in Slovakia, that 110 Romani women in Slovakia were forcibly or coercively sterilized, or had strong indications that they had been sterilized.

China’s policies in the Xinjian region actually qualify for genocide under two defining acts. The UN Article outlining crimes of genocide that follows just after that cited above states that, “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” is a crime of genocide. This highlights further concerns of China’s policies towards Uighurs and also brings the behavior of many governments into question.

As mentioned above, China has been sending ethnic minorities, Uighurs prominent among them, to re-education and work camps. A primary function of these camps includes separating children from there family and community in order to inculcate them in the “Chinese” mode of life. From 2017-2019, thousands of children in the Xinjiang region were separated from their parents in a “systematic campaign of social re-engineering and cultural genocide.” In these schools, children are banned from speaking their Uighur language and are taught instead Chinese mannerisms, customs, and language. As German researcher Dr. Adrian Zenz shares with The Independent, “China has implemented the “weaponisation of education and social care systems” in order to cut off minority children from their roots. “Boarding schools provide the ideal context for a sustained cultural re-engineering of minority societies.”

Again, China is not alone in these tactics. Into the 20th and 21st century, the United States has performed similar operations.

  • The United States has relocated children away from their parents multiple times throughout its history as a way of preserving its deluded sense of national identity. From 1860 to 1978, the boarding schools for Indigenous Americans had the express purpose to separate children from their families and cultures and indoctrinate them in the government’s ideas of American-ness. Thousands of children.
  • In the last decades, the United States has performed family separation and detention operations at the southern border in the name of National Security but with barely concealed xenophobia and racism. From November 2017 to April 2018, The New York Times reported that the United States had already removed an estimated 700 children from their families at the southern border. Genocide Watch reports, “According to Trump administration statistics, 2,342 children were separated from their families as a result of criminal prosecution between May 5 and June 9, 2018, bringing the total number of children forcibly separated from their families to over 3,000, though no reliable figure is easily available. These children are now scattered across the United States in a confusing mixture of detention facilities and foster home arrangements.”

Retaining control of the family and reproduction as the means of preserving the cultural or ethnic identity of a community is critical. When young members of the community are separated and immersed in another community entirely, their original community is robbed of members, and that individual loses those deep connections. When new members can no longer continue the existence of the community across generations, the interference succeeds at eliminating these communities’ very existence.

In morally assessing the sterilization practices of China on the oppressed Uighur population, it is important to have the appropriate tools to articulate the specific injustice of these policies. That is the goal of the UN declaration, which identifies and underscores the seriousness of actions like forced sterilization.

But what relevant moral weight is added by labeling such actions ‘genocide’ as opposed to merely ‘assault’? When I assault you against your will, moral theorists of any stripe can say “bad!” and explain why it was morally wrong. When we add the context that this assault took away important choices, moral theorists might still be able to account for this being worse than some other harms: because the part of one’s life that involves such choices is important, harming the ability to control it increases the relevant harm. So, perhaps, we could respond “BAD!” to express our moral assessment.

It may become a bit tricky from here. Intuitively, that the harm is being targeted at an individual because of who they are, or because of the group they are a member of, many theories this is not only morally relevant, but that it makes the harm worse. This amplification of wrong is furthered when the harm isn’t just targeting someone based on their identity, but when that targeting is meant to eliminate the person and group’s existence.

But for traditional utilitarians, the oppression or prejudice involved in a harm doesn’t necessarily add to the harm experienced by the individual. Harms will differ for the utilitarian in degree if 1) more individuals are harmed, or 2) the harm is worse, either straightforwardly like a scratch versus a stab, or in a manner similar to that articulated above where perhaps a physical assault might begin to approximate an anesthetized tubal ligation, but the latter comes with more life import.

This has been one of the core critiques of utilitarianism by feminist philosophers. As long as an action produces more harm than good, it is morally permissible. We could imagine a world where prejudice, bigotry, and oppression of some minority communities results in an overall benefit to the population as a whole (just so long as the detractions occur within minority communities). In its simplest form, utilitarianism seems to lack the moral structure to make sense of how this is an unjust and immoral state of affairs. Imagine, for instance, that a library excludes some from entering (women, or non-white people, etc.). Helpful classmates may provide all the copies of the material you need, and therefore no harm is ever accrued by the policy, yet there exists morally wrong behavior and actions. The wrongness of the exclusionary policy isn’t just the harm to those excluded, but lies within the structure of the policy itself — a feature that utilitarianism can struggle to account for.

What this means is that not all moral theories will agree that the charge of genocide possesses some unique moral weight. In order to make China’s policy of forced sterilization as poignantly impermissible to utilitarians, for instance, one need only show that the harms of the policies outweigh the benefits — this does not seem a tall order.

Indeed, for the host of international wrongs listed above, it cannot escape any moral theory that grave wrongs are being committed. According to the United Nations, a major body that passes for international standards of crime and responsibility, countless lives are being abused in ways that cannot be tolerated regardless of the language we use.

The Question of Genocide in Australian History

black and white photograph of aboriginal dwelling

In 1948, Australia was one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In 1998, three Indigenous activists attempted to bring a case against the country’s then Prime Minister John Howard and several other prominent politicians. The letter they dispatched to all Members of Parliament and Senators, as well as foreign diplomats and the UN read, in part:

“The Commonwealth of Australia is responsible for past, present and continuing genocide; attempt to commit genocide and complicity in genocide against the original peoples of the land claimed by the commonwealth of Australia to be under its sovereign administration.”

In 1949, the Genocide Convention Bill, written to approve Australia’s ratification of the UN Convention on Genocide received bipartisan support in Parliament. But in the intervening years, despite being an enthusiastic signatory, Australia had not enacted it’s articles into law, and, though there were other findings against the appellants in the case against Howard et al, there was no corresponding law in Australia that dealt with the specific crime of genocide to be prosecuted in the first place. This legal situation has not been sufficiently remedied.

Meanwhile the national conversation about genocide; in Australian colonial history, in modern governmental policies and its remnants in current systems, is fraught.

Genocide is a profoundly confronting, disturbing subject; most people have very strong views about genocide and rightly associate it with events like the Nazi holocaust, Pol Pot’s campaign of slaughter in Cambodia, or the horrors of Rwanda.

While many are deeply disturbed by the suggestion that genocide could be invoked to characterize the Australian colonial history/experience of Australia’s First Nations, and many reject and repudiate the claim, others believe that the strongest moral and criminal terms are indeed warranted to condemn aspects of Australian colonization. And many have argued that there are at least three or four distinct, intended attempts or instances of genocide in historical and modern Australia.

The term ‘genocide’ was adopted after WWII as a way of comprehending in moral terms and prosecuting in legal terms the crimes of the Nazis against the Jewish people across Europe.

In the present UN Convention, genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Hannah Arendt, following her coverage of the trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, defined genocide as ‘the desire that a certain distinct people disappear from the earth.’ Her definition tries to grapple with the moral terribleness of attempting to expunge an entire people from existence. Thus the concept of genocide is a unique moral category through which to apprehend the particular character of acts driven by the intention to destroy a people.

Genocide need not refer to the kinds of atrocities, or scale on which they occurred, of the Nazi Holocaust; there is much more to the concept than mass murder – the attempt to destroy a human group in whole or in part can take many forms.

When Australia supported the convention there was a notable, and seemingly unquestioned, absence of any second thoughts regarding colonial or modern Australian treatment of Aborigines. Indeed, forcible removal of Aboriginal children intensified in the twentieth century and was carried out until the 1970’s.

During the proceedings surrounding Australia’s adoption of the Genocide Convention Bill (to approve Australia’s ratification of the Convention) one Member of Parliament said, of Australia:

“That we detest all forms of genocide and desire to remove them arises from the fact that we are a moral people. The fact that we have a clean record allows us to take such an attitude regarding genocide.”

This seems, even given the prevailing views of Australian history, to have been an oddly blinkered view since Ralph Lemkin, the lawyer who first coined the term genocide to describe the Holocaust (just a few years before it was adopted by the UN), thought it had many historical precedents and he mentioned in particular the actions of the Tasmanian colonial government of the 1820s and 30s which resulted in the virtual extermination of the Tasmanian Aborigines during that period of colonial expansionism.

During the frontier wars of the early years in all areas of colonial settlement and expansion through the continent of Australia First Nations people resisted and fought back against the British; but as those wars escalated in the 1800’s there were many instances of mass killings of Aborigines by white settlers.

In official literature and settler records (letters, diaries and the like) there are numerous characterizations of the colonial relation with the indigene as one of extermination. Some accounts endorse this and some find it regrettable. Massacres continued into the early twentieth century, after which a policy of forcible removal of children from Aboriginal parents into missions or non-Aboriginal households continued in various forms until into the 1970’s.

As per the UN Convention, genocide means “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such…” The inclusion of “intent” has been a major, and contentious, issue in how genocide is defined, and how it is identified as such.

Intent is problematic, of course, because it can be hard to prove – but also it is problematic in case there is thought to be a disparity between the intention (of the state, or significant actors) to bring about an outcome and the failure to prevent it or cease activities that result in it. Thus genocidal intent can be particularly difficult to isolate in some situations of war, and in the context of colonization.

Thinking about the effects of colonization on Australian Aborigines (and on Indigenous people the world over) raises the question of whether colonization itself is a genocidal project, and how the inclusion of ‘intent’ in the conventional and legal definition can be located in that question; notwithstanding those specific episodes in both colonial and modern Australia that can be pointedly identified as candidates for the crime of genocide.

Scholars and activists, as mentioned above, have long considered the events in Tasmania to be a relatively clear case of genocide. Following a systematic campaign of dispossession and murder, in 1833 the remaining Tasmanian Aborigines were removed by the government to Flinders’ Island. Even as, in historical records, there are ample expressions of regret, gestures of paternalism, and attempts to “provide them every comfort,” this was understood at the time to be the terminus of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture. Flinders’ Island was essentially a place of death in whose confines the population declined so dramatically that demographic recovery was impossible.

On the fraught question of intention it is not altogether clear where its relationship to culpability stands. Does the intention have to be primary? Is it, for instance, to be considered genocide if the government of the day foresaw probable extinction of Aborigines as an effect of their policies yet carried on those policies unchanged? Is it genocide if, without (perhaps) the primary intention to destroy a human group, a government or other dominant social group carried out activities that hastened the extermination of the culture —  such as forcible dispossession of traditional and tribal lands, deprivation of resources depended upon for survival, massacre, incarceration, forcible re-education of children including loss of language and forced removal of children from Aboriginal families? Given this (incomplete) list of atrocities, it is really not a great stretch to identify the behavior of colonists and subsequent Australian governments as carrying out acts of genocide.

Lemkin argued that genocide is not just forced assimilation but a policy that by drastic methods “aimed at the rapid and complete disappearance of the cultural, moral and religious life of a group of human beings.” For Lemkin, genocide is present when a coordinated plan of actions is aimed at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of an ethnic, cultural or national group. The conclusion that this applies at least to certain specific episodes in Australian colonial and modern history, if not the whole colonial project, seems inescapable.

The final article of the UN Convention on Genocide makes special mention of the practice of removing children. The case brought against the then Prime Minister in 1998 accused the Commonwealth of acts of genocide in the policy of forced removal of Aboriginal children from their Aboriginal families which took place in the decades from 1010 to 1970. The victims of this policy are now referred to as ‘the Stolen Generations.’

This policy was designed to isolate Aboriginal children from their families and their cultures, and to destroy their relation to land and extinguish their traditional languages. The disastrous effects of this policy on the communities, families, culture, and individual lives of Aboriginal people throughout the nation continues to cause deep cultural trauma and affect health and social outcomes for Aboriginal people. It remains a deep wound in the national psyche for the whole country.

That genocide can take different forms does not render mass murder of Jews in gas chambers equivalent, in one sense, with forced removal of children from their parents – these things are clearly not morally equivalent in every way; nevertheless both belong to the moral category of genocide, and both have what Australian philosopher Rai Gaita has called “the inexpungible moral dimensions” of genocide, whatever the forms it takes or actions that entail it.

Even in the absence of a specific law in Australia, which makes prosecution of cases of genocide virtually impossible, understanding the necessity of the concept of genocide as a category to name the particular moral terribleness of attempting to expunge an entire human group and their particular, unique instantiation of humanity, is essential. This is true even though thinking about Australian history through that moral lens is extremely painful. As it is not clear that Australia can heal these wounds.

Healing, in the sense of making it better, may not be possible, but we have to show up to the conversation prepared to hear and tell the truth about our history, with the courage to acknowledge the role of genocide in that history.

Morality on the Side: Peter Handke and the Nobel Prize

photograph of Peter Handke

Debates about separating the art from the artist are not waning. In the last couple of years, we have seen the rise and fall of many artists. Yet, with some of the artists the fall seemed less imminent, and perhaps even unlikely. The world was fast in condemning the actions of Kevin Spacey, praised for his role in House of Cards. While on the other hand, Woody Allen’s work seems to experience little hindrance, despite allegations of sexual abuse. This is certainly not an isolated case, as Michael Jackson and Johnny Depp prove. But how do we decide which art and what artist to condemn, and which art we ought to separate from questionable morality of its creator. Can we appreciate art in isolation from moral considerations?

The Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Literature Prize of 2019 to Peter Handke, Austrian novelist, playwright, translator, poet, film director and screenwriter. What followed was an explosion of moral outrage, with vast number of individuals and institutions condemning the Nobel Committee’s decision. Handke is widely known for speeking at the Slobodan Milosevic’s funeral, espousing strong nationalistic views and refusing to acknowledge the crimes of Milosevic regime during the war in the Balkans. When NATO decided to react to the ongoing massacres, Handke wrote an open letter stating:

“Mars is attacking and since March 24th, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republika Srpska and Yugoslavia are the fatherland of all those who have not become martial, green butchers.”

Thus, it ought not come as a surprise that many consider Handke a person of deplorable morality. Rafia Zakaria described his work as “represent[ing] so well the right side of the political divide in Europe, the one that seeks to revitalize an imagined past and perceive the present as a moment of victimization by encroaching others, women, minorities and particularly the irksome migrants.” Many commentators do not find value in separating Handke’s literary works from his politics. Can we even understand an artist’s art if isolated from the views they publicly espouse? Should we?

There are several ways to answer that question. First, the simplest answer would be: yes, one must separate the art from the artist. The reasoning for such an argument might be based on the claim that truly great art is transcendent, it “can stand on its own outside of history and speak to anyone from any place and time,” and if it cannot “it’s not really great.” In case of Handke, this would mean that we foremost need to look at Handke’s work in isolation from the author, and if the work has some kind of value for us, then appreciation is warranted.

Another potential answer derives from the Roland Barthes statement that the author is dead. This viewpoint holds that it is the reader who assigns the meaning to the text by engaging with it, rather than the author’s internal considerations. Hence, the author is irrelevant for understanding of the text and “has no control over … final interpretation.” As Swift and Hayes-Brady put it “engaging critically with a work of art is completely different from endorsing the morality of the artist.” Looking at how this fits into our consideration of Handke’s work, one might say that it is fundamentally understanding that we assign to a certain work that matters, and not some sort of a universal meaning assigned by the author.

In addressing the question of whether we can separate art from artist, we might also ask, as Constance Grady puts it, whether the “work of art is asking me as a reader to be complicit with the artist’s monstrosity.” In appreciating the art, are we also forced to acknowledge traits of artist’s deplorable morality and actions in his/her art? Is the art asking us to be complicit or adopt their particular worldview? Depending on one’s answer, engagement with the work of art might need to change.

Lastly, by engaging the art of morally questionable artists, one might be providing economic benefit to the author. We have reason not to show this kind of support and to avoid public sponsorship (for discussion see Benjamin Matheson and Alfred Archer’s “Should We Mute Michael Jackson?”). By buying Handke’s book we are awarding the work that is based on the perpetuation of immoral viewpoints.

Regardless of the ongoing debate on separating art from the artist, Peter Handke’s statements, worldview, and actions that serve to minimize the genocide which occurred within living memory, and even go so far as deny the existence of concentration camps, must be condemned. There is no debate or question regarding that. As such, one must wonder how we should regard the Nobel Committee’s controversial decision? As Handke takes the stage in Stockholm to receive the prize, it will not only be him who will be awarded but also his professed views. One is no longer talking about separating the artists from their art, but supporting and condoning the artist in their totality. When Albert Camus was accepting 1957 Nobel Prize for literature he proclaimed that there are two roles of a writer: “the service of truth and the service of liberty.” Handke does service to neither. Not only did Handke himself show willingness to defend a war criminal but his art did, too. In Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia “he went out of his way to give credence to mass murder and, in this context, as importantly, to lies.” Handke even offered to testify on Milosevic’s behalf at the Hague. Hence, Handke is both a person of dismal morals and an artist who uses art to profess his viewpoints. The Nobel Committee erred badly this time by deciding to silence the voices of genocide victims and instead gave credibility to, and encouraged, an apologist of genocide.