genomisia

Proposed definition:

genomisia– n. – from genos (race, stock, kin) + -misia (“hatred of”) : hatred or actualized animus toward any group as characterized by common religion, ethnic or national origin, ideology, customary conduct, or orientation; also misogeny.

Initial investigation suggests that the word “genomisia” is used in some technical genetics literature (little of it in English), but the first occurrence of the term in a socio-political context appears for me as the 26th hit in a Google Search (with automatically omitted results included), from an article by Willa Michener writing on “The Individual Psychology of Group Hate,” in Journal of Hate Studies1. Michener’s usage, possibly a neologism that we can guess has occurred independently to multiple observers, deserves further consideration, since it supplies a solution to a common problem in contemporary public discussion.

In thinking about genocide and the impermissible question of the permissibility of genocide, I have recently found myself running across the problem when intending to refer to types of hatred and violence or aggressive intention directed against a group – a “race, nation, religion, tribe,” as in standard definitions of “genocide,” a term coined in the year 1944, and later made the subject of the 1948 UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of Genocide. When the President speaks about genocide as a justification for an act he and the nation have stubbornly resisted, military re-involvement in Iraq, the foundational importance of the genocide concept to the Americanized post-WW2 order becomes clear. In the meantime, otherwise mild-mannered and open-minded, even liberal and self-consciously left-internationalist observers can be found expressing virulent hostility toward particular nations, religions, or even religion itself, while reacting to current events. There is an impulse to refer to such individuals or to their statements as “racist,” but the individual who applies that term will quickly be reminded that the genos they are attacking does not constitute a race, at least according to common definitions of race – itself a somewhat unstable term, since in the minds of most anti-racists there is actually no such thing as a “black race,” or “white race,” etc.,  only racial fictions with no meaningful and testable scientific precision about them: Under this view “Latino” is not a “race,” but Latinos may be subjected to racism. Islam is certainly not a race, but so-called Islamophobia bears many of the characteristics of racism.

We also refer to Islamophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, racism, and other attitudes or ideologies as types of “bigotry.” In contemporary American political discourse we have put tremendous pressure on that word. Like the word “race,” the word “bigot” also has unclear and, somewhat ironically, mixed origins, but the general sense is carried in the etymological root in “By God,” the statement that the legendary original bigots were prone to repeat in lieu of a rational explanation or appeal. We hate whomever we hate because we simply hate them, by God, because by God we must hate them. Yet the movement from bigotry to genocide, though the latter might be taken to be a logical implication of the former carried forward consequentially, is not an automatic or common movement. A bigot may remain passive in his or her prejudice or passionate and reflexive dislike for members of whatever race, nation, religion, or tribe.

In short, we do not seem to have a specific word in general or even specialist usage for the important type of bigotry that is genocidal in implication, specifying the difference between “this group disgusts me” and “this group must be destroyed” (the latter being an implication of any assertion of someone’s “evil”). We may believe that any such hatred will be tied to fear of some kind, and invoke the phobic, but it is not clear that “fear” of the object of bigotry is what we mean to denounce. Fear may remain a passive sentiment or inward state: We may pity or even have good reason ourselves to fear the irrationally fearful, but any person or group’s mere condition of being fearful poses no threat in itself to the feared other. A fear can and perhaps ought to be assuaged, allayed, or treated, but merely as a fear. In the common conception, it can be safely ignored until and unless it produces, or demonstrably indicates a likelihood, of destructive conduct.

One term or variant that comes to mind, based on common usages, would be “misogeny.” Whether its similarity to “misogyny” would qualify as a defect is debatable. If you search for “misogeny,” you will be shown pages on the hatred of women, including multiple instances of the two spellings being used interchangeably, although “misogyny” is always treated as the actually correct one. There may even be a deep etymological justification for the confusion, since the ancient Greek words for woman and for race may be connected in somewhat the same way and for the same reason that a “genetic” lineage may be traced to a mother. Put another way, to hate women would be to hate humanity, since all human beings are born of women, as far as I know without exception at least to the present day. In any event we can write “misogenist” with somewhat less likelihood of being taken to mean “misogynist,” but, upon initial introduction, in order to set the term apart from “misogyny,” we might either italicize it or introduce a hyphen:  miso-geny or miso-genic or miso-genist, to be pronounced with emphasis on the third syllable (mis-o-GEN-y), as a flat “e” (hen, blend), clearly distinguishing it from the typically shortened third syllable “y” (in, win) of “misogynist,” a word usually enunciated with accent on the second syllable (“mis-AH-gin-ist”).

The alternative as per Michener instead follows the pattern of “iatromisia” (hatred of doctors) and “logomisia” (hatred of words), producing “genomisy” or “genomisia” or even “genomisiac.” Why speak of anti-semitism or Islamophobia, for instance, when we mean something much closer to Judeomisia and Islamomisia, as sub-types of an orientation or pathology whose most extreme and most typical manifestation is genocide, and that we recognize as antithetical for any just and peaceful, or humane, or liberal-democratic, order or regime?

Similarly, we can see actualized genomisia, not bigotry per se, as the true object of “anti-discrimination” law. A full actualization of bigotry or phobia might include total withdrawal from society. A full actualization of genomisia would be war, and the evidently un-mastered challenge for many of those who stand against particular genomisiae or genomisias, or misogenies or misogenisms, is doing so non-misogenically.

Notes:

  1. Michener, W. (2012). The Individual Psuchology of Group Hate. Journal of Hate Studies, 10 (1), 15-48. Retrieved from: http://journals.gonzaga.edu/index.php/johs/article/view/177 – available as PDF at “The Individual Psychology of Group Hate.”A Bing search produces no hits other than in relation to genetics. []

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4 comments on “genomisia

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  1. “an orientation or pathology whose worst and most typical manifestation”

    I would question the “most typical” part.

    For the rest: Zofia Kossak-Szczucka

  2. I’ll have to agree that “most typical” is the wrong expression. Will try to come up with a better one (“purest” seemed wrong), and for now will correct with a blogger’s quasi-deletion. Thanks!

    I wasn’t familiar with the story of Zofia Kossak-Szczucka. Any particular relevance or just mentioning her because she deserves to be mentioned in this context?

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