This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Humanity's Death Toll

"Along the way, the Crusaders massacred. To take but one example, the Rhineland Massacres of 1096 are remembered to this day as some of the most horrific examples of anti-Semitic violence prior to the Holocaust. (Why go to the Holy Land to fight nonbelievers, many wondered, when they live right among us?) The Jewish communities of Cologne, Speyer, Worms, and Mainz were decimated. There were more than 5,000 victims."
"And that was only one example. Tens of thousands of people (both soldiers and civilians) were killed in the conquest of Jerusalem. The Crusaders themselves suffered; historians estimate that only one in 20 survived to even reach the Holy Land. It is estimated that 1.7 million people died in total."
Jay Michaelson, The Washington Post
"For centuries people were burned at the stake, stretched to death or otherwise tortured for failing to be Roman Catholic. But, if research released by the Vatican is right, the Inquisition was not as bad as one might think."
"According to the documents from Vatican archives relating to the trials of Jews, Muslims, Cathars, witches, scientists and other non-Catholics in Europe between the 13th and the 19th centuries, the number actually killed or tortured into confession during the Inquisition was far fewer than previously thought."
"Estimates of the number killed by the Spanish Inquisition, which Sixtus IV authorised in a papal bull in 1478, have ranged from 30,000 to 300,000. Some historians are convinced that millions died.
But according to Professor Agostino Borromeo, a historian of Catholicism at the Sapienza University in Rome and curator of the 783-page volume released yesterday, only 1% of the 125,000 people tried by church tribunals as suspected heretics in Spain were executed."
Sophie Arie, The Guardian 
"In August, 1947, when, after three hundred years in India, the British finally left, the subcontinent was partitioned into two independent nation states: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Immediately, there began one of the greatest migrations in human history, as millions of Muslims trekked to West and East Pakistan (the latter now known as Bangladesh) while millions of Hindus and Sikhs headed in the opposite direction. Many hundreds of thousands never made it.Across the Indian subcontinent, communities that had coexisted for almost a millennium attacked each other in a terrifying outbreak of sectarian violence, with Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other—a mutual genocide as unexpected as it was unprecedented. In Punjab and Bengal—provinces abutting India’s borders with West and East Pakistan, respectively—the carnage was especially intense, with massacres, arson, forced conversions, mass abductions, and savage sexual violence. Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered."
William Dalrymple, The New Yorker
Partition displaced fifteen million people and killed more than a million.
Photograph by Margaret Bourke-White / LIFE Picture Collection / Getty

"What follow are the current best estimates of civilians and disarmed soldiers killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators."
"These estimates are calculated from wartime reports generated by those who implemented Nazi population policy, and postwar demographic studies on population loss during World War II."
Jews: up to 6 million
Soviet civilians: around 7 million (including 1.3 Soviet Jewish civilians, who are included in the 6 million figure for Jews)
Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million (including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers)
Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million (including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish elites)
Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina): 312,000
People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000
Roma (Gypsies): 196,000–220,000
Jehovah's Witnesses: around 1,900
Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000
German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: undetermined
Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands (possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above) 
Holocaust Encyclopedia, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

People of conscience and of good will as the saying has it, are always hopeful that a better way can be found in a social order, a political will, to bind diverse peoples together in one great heap of good-natured humanity, content to live together in peace and maintain friendly relations. At the same time the issue of parts of humanity living in dire poverty while others live in luxurious ease is another part of the parcel of inequity meant to be addressed by those who see themselves responding to a higher calling of rescuing humanity from itself.

There are so many ways in which humanity has veered into social, religious, political persecution bordering on lunacy, with countless victims to account for. Ideologies, secular and religious, have taken their toll down through the ages as one segment of the world preys on the other, determined that it is they who are privileged and have the status that allows them to command how they will, leaving the 'other' whatever remains. What could seem more promising to society than a way of life called socialism? Where goods are apportioned equally to all, irrespective of their attributes?

Of course, that this premise of equal rights in a socialist ideal deftly sidesteps what nature has wrought in devising the psyche and character of mankind is treated as irrelevant. In whose mind she invested various traits, the most compelling of which was the instinct of survival; not just a primal urge of supreme necessity for humankind, but of all that exists, but it is uniquely humankind that was gifted with the mental and physical dexterity to achieve that survival at all costs, beyond what any other creature or living thing could muster.

So how have we done? Well, basically, territorial imperative, tribal entitlements, religious conviction and other forms of formal, institutionalized interventions have caused more grievous harm than what nature herself could ever devise on her own initiative, though truth is, the blueprint for those living things in which she invested the instinct for survival was her initiative. In the West, we look back on the era of Communism and sneer at the pathetic failure it was as a mechanism to even the playing field for the common man.

And wonder how it was that the most creative, enterprising and intelligent minds of the West viewed the Russian experiment with favour, seeing much in Marxist theory that impressed and motivated them to support it though rarely to the extent that they were prepared to surrender their own liberal democratic, capitalistic lifestyles. And it's truly strange how people even now who should know better, excoriate the Soviets for the horrible toll their determined manipulation of humanity into subjugated vassals of 'equality' causing the deaths of millions in the process, forget how other ideologies had similar escapades to their credit.
"The Soviets had imperial ambitions. It began with the subjugated nations of the internal empire -- Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic nations, the central Asian republics -- and expanded to the enslaved nations of Europe, imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. Further afield, communists in Africa, Asia and Latin America had ready support from Moscow. Today, people will die in Venezuela because of what Lenin wrought."
"The death toll [of the Communist era under Stalin] was staggering, measured in the tens of millions, to which a vast catalogue of torture, imprisonment, displacement and exile must be added."
Father Raymond de Souza, National Post
Since then there has been Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia, the Sudanese government's victimization of Darfurians, the Rwandan genocide, and the Syrian Shiite cleansing of Syrian Sunnis, while before those were Ottoman Turkey's genocidal slaughter of the Armenians. We needn't even get into the viral ideology of racism, and the victimization of African Blacks by Arab slave traders as Black Africans were rounded up, shipped out of Africa and those that survived enslaved so that Europe and North America could commercially thrive on the backs of their labour.

Wars there have been aplenty in the history of humankind. Wars that took place in antiquity as one empire after another -- the Mongols, the Romans --  had their moment in time sweeping through the globe, along with two wars to end all wars, The First and the Second World Wars. When humankind went out of its way to prove that it was incapable of existing without conflict because of irritations national leaders wouldn't ignore and couldn't ignore when the compelling psychopathy of conquest overwhelmed some of them.

As a race, we think about what we've done. And in remembering we pause. To recall the events and those who were sacrificed to the all-too-human drive to secure for oneself advantages denied the other. Securing our honour by refusing to become a victim. And honouring those who were victims. We play solemn music, recite pledges, hear dignitaries gravely speak on our behalf in those chastening hours of remembrance. We lay wreaths, and remember those who died on distant battlefields.

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