In a recent article in the Miami Herald, Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski discusses rhetoric around the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and where the rhetoric misses the mark.
The article — “Rick Scott is using a word to describe Venezuela that no one else is. Is he right?” — reports on the Florida senator’s recent comments categorizing the turmoil in Venezuela as “genocide.”
Dobkowski and other experts, the paper reports, say that “terms like civil war, authoritarian oppression or politically targeted murders would be a better description of what’s happening in Venezuela, and that none of them are genocide…Dobkowski…said there’s some debate among academics and policymakers about what constitutes genocide, mainly about whether the deaths must be intentional or not and how to identify targeted groups of people, but even the most expansive definition would not include the crisis in Venezuela.”
“If we start calling everything a genocide, when we really face a genocide nobody’s going to pay attention,” Dobkowski told the Herald.
A member of the faculty since 1976, Dobkowski is an expert on genocide, terrorism and the Holocaust. He holds a doctorate in history from New York University. A prolific author, he has written The Tarnished Dream: The Basis of American Anti-Semitism, The Politics of Indifference: Documentary History of Holocaust Victims in America and Jewish American Voluntary Organizations. He is the co-author of Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear States & Terrorism, On the Edge of Scarcity and The Nuclear Predicament: Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century. He has co-written other volumes on the Holocaust and genocide.
Dobkowski participated several times in the Goldner Holocaust Symposium at Wroxton College in England, and was a fellow at the Institute for the Teaching of the Post-Biblical Foundations of Western Civilization at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He received the New York University Ferdinand Czernin Prize in History and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.