Genocide deniers at U.S. varsities

Research-based evidence shows that many Americans, especially in the 18-34 age group, do not know about the Holocaust and other genocides, including the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The same evidence, however, reveals tremendous support for genocide education in U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities.

Indeed, every year a number of U.S. varsities organize events to commemorate, and educate their students, faculty, and staff about, the genocide against the Tutsi.  

Unfortunately, over the years genocide deniers were also given speaking platforms to deny the genocide, spread their falsehoods about double genocide, and promote themselves.

Having been successfully challenged at major colleges and universities, they seem to have found new venues at suburban community colleges, as evidenced by two events this year.

The first event took place at the Monroe Community College (MCC) in suburban Rochester, New York, on March 6, 2019.

Organized by the college’s Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project that had put together other commendable events such as an Art Exhibit (February 28-March 11), the March 6 event featured Paul Rusesabagina.

He is described on the project’s website as a real-life hero as portrayed in the 2004 Hollywood movie.

The hotel manager, the story goes, used his position and his connections with Hutu extremists to save more than 1,200 people who had taken refuge in the hotel.

This story line has long been debunked and particularly discredited by genocide survivors, including Edouard Kayihura, who co-authored a book with Kerry Zukus called Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story… and Why it Matters (BenBella Books, 2014).

Other survivors who were in the hotel have also contested Rusesabagina’s heroism and described him as an opportunist who extorted money from the hotel guests and who has been using the genocide for personal and political purposes.

Paul Rusesabagina joined the chorus of genocide deniers at least five years ago.

He is also linked to a terrorist group called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) that has for many years been wreaking havoc in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the militant group FDLR as a terrorist organization.

FDLR also collaborates with other negative forces such as the Rwandan National Congress (RNC) whose leaders have been convicted of terrorist activities in Rwanda.

Since February 5, 2019 there is an Interpol arrest warrant against Rusesabagina for his links with that terrorist group.

The booking of Paul Rusesabagina may have been an honest error by the MCC’s Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Project.

This group is known for 30 years of organizing events to educate students about the Holocaust, butgiving a platform to a denier of the Genocide against the Tutsi is a grave matter.

Information about Rusesabagina as a proponent of the theory of double genocide is widely available online.

Reportedly, Rusesabagina also took advantage of his invitation to MCC to privately meet with his RNC friends after his presentation.

The second event is scheduled at Tarrant Community College (TCC), Northeast Campus, Hurst, Texas, on April 1, 2019.

Organized by the Psi Beta Honor Society in the Department of Psychology and Sociology, its flier states, "Genocide Survivor? Hear Multifaceted First-Hand Accounts of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide," a title that genuinely promotes double genocide.

It features Judi Rever, a Canadian journalist and a self-professed and well-known genocide denier invested in proving that a genocide against the Hutu also happened.

There was one genocide in Rwanda in 1994, which the United Nations properly named "Genocide against the Tutsi" in 2014 (UN Resolution 2150).

Properly naming catastrophic events that challenge human understanding is critical to understanding them and fighting denial and revisionism. 

There have NEVER been genocides in plural in known instances such as the Jewish Holocaust or the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda in 1994.

Promoting that ideology of simultaneous genocides, as Judi Rever does in her lectures, is intellectually dangerous to uninformed young American college students, and she should not have been invited to poison these young minds.

It is better not to give them the wrong information than feature individuals actively involved in genocide denial, the last step of genocide.

There is sufficient information in Judi Rever's lectures (available on youtube) and in her book In Praise of Blood (Random House Canada, 2018) that reveals consistent twisting of facts to further her disingenuous agenda of proving a genocide against the Hutu.

This is a well-known script used by deniers of the genocide against the Tutsi.  Rever’s association with perpetrators of this genocide in Zaire’s refugee camps in the 1990s, other known genocide deniers, and negative groups such as RNC makes her inappropriate to educate American students on genocide.

Judi Rever's upcoming appearance at TCC is bad for the intellectual good of students and the campus and for the good of shared humanity (the first thing that genocide kills).

What is more about the TCC event, the organizer and contact person on the flier is one Alice Muhindura, well known in the Fort Worth, Texas, area as a zealous genocide denier.

She is the daughter of Celestin Muhinduranshuro, aformer Major in the Habyarimana army who was attending military course at the U.S. Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1994.

He most probably deserted the army and may have changed his name. A picture of Habyarimana hangs in Alice’s living room along the old Rwandan flag.

Like other children of personalities under the Habyarimana regime, notably the group Jambo ASBL in Belgium, she has embraced her parents’ ideology that led to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

It is evident that whoever booked the two speakers preyed on students’ groups and their advisers’ willingness to acquire education about genocide.

It also reflects the lack of research on updated information about genocide denial and the guest speakers’ association with negative political movements.

These continue to destabilize the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and are bent on destabilizing Rwanda with the help of other forces in neighboring countries.

Some people have argued that the appearance of the like of Paul Rusesabagina and Judi Rever at American universities is protected free speech, but genocide denial cannot be free speech.

If we agree that genocide denial is the last form of genocide, one that continues for long periods after the extermination stage, I strongly believe that allowing genocide denial as free speech is indefensible moral bankruptcy.

The author is a Professor at the State University of New York College at Buffalo