I teach students that what people say about failure in politics is mostly wrong. People always told me, 'They'll praise you on your way up and kick you on your way down.' That wasn't my experience. I can't walk down the street in Toronto without someone coming up and saying hello.
If the history of the western moral imagination is the story of an enduring and unending revolt against human cruelty, there are few more consequential figures than Raphael Lemkin - and few whose achievements have been more ignored by the general public. It was he who coined the word 'genocide.' He was also its victim.
Since Franklin Roosevelt's leadership in setting up the United Nations and the Nuremberg trials, the U.S. has promoted universal legal norms and the institutions to enforce them while seeking, by hook or by crook, to exempt American citizens, especially soldiers, from their actual application.
Genocide is not just a murderous madness; it is, more deeply, a politics that promises a utopia beyond politics - one people, one land, one truth, the end of difference. Since genocide is a form of political utopia, it remains an enduring temptation in any multiethnic and multicultural society in crisis.
The detention of Japanese Americans during World War II would qualify as an example of majoritarian tyranny and misuse of executive prerogative, driven by fear and racial bias.