May 29th, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing is So Passe

by Philip Baruth

Ah, kids and their changing fads.

Back in the day — during the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, say — we used the phrase “ethnic cleansing” to refer to the systematic terrorizing, routing, murdering, and scattering of distinct ethnic groups.

bush, in denialThe phrase carried a whiff of genocide, and that was purposeful. Because by and large we were against ethnic cleansing.

Of course, times have changed somewhat. The Bush administration has been turning a blind eye to institutionalized Shiite attempts to cleanse Baghdad for quite a while now.

But the phrase “ethnic cleansing” remained a problem. Until yesterday, when the New York Times supplied a more neutral and workable variation:

“Sectarian displacement has become widespread across Iraq, with Shiite and Sunni militias trying to rid neighborhoods in Baghdad and other cities of members of the rival sect.”

Sectarian displacement. Now there’s a policy you can bring home to Mom.