The Ultimate ‘Concept Creep’: How a Canadian Inquiry Strips the Word ‘Genocide’ of Meaning


My own country, Canada, now tends very much toward the German model, with politicians and educators frequently stressing the horrors inflicted on indigenous peoples. The idea of "genocide" even has been stretched to include the idea of "cultural genocide," a vague but emotionally resonant term that is now widely used, despite having only a tenuous connection with the (admittedly murky) legal concept of genocide. ("Despite recent developments, customary international law limits the definition of genocide to those acts seeking the physical or biological destruction of all or part of the group," declared the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in a 2001 judgment against Radislav Krstic. "An enterprise attacking only the cultural or sociological characteristics of a human group in order to annihilate these elements which give to that group its own identity distinct from the rest of the community would not fall under the definition of genocide.")