Historical Wrongs: Deportations and Expulsions
Assyrian Destruction of Peoples and Nations
In 1300 BCE, the Assyrian Empire ensured the docility of the nations it conquered by expelling peoples from their homelands, and replacing them with other deportees. The best way for a nation to survive was to humbly submit as an Assyrian vassal state. The northern Kingdom of Israel resisted, and its people becoming the Ten Lost Tribes. The southern Kingdom of Judea acquiesced, and prospered for many years. It was an era of displacement, great suffering, and the disappearance of many peoples.
Disappearance of the Dorset Eskimo
Between 1200 and 1500 AD, the Dorset Eskimo (known to the contemporary Inuit as Tunniq) disappeared from the archaeological record. According to stories, the Dorset were powerful but timid people, driven out by the newcomers, the contemporary Inuit. Whether any Tunniq survived, whether they moved elsewhere, is unknown. It was a time of displacement, suffering, and the disappearance of a people.
(the Tunniq name, though not the culture, is used in the novel Quantum Cannibals)
Expulsion of the Jews of England
In 1290, Edward I expelled England’s approximately 3,000 Jews. Having seized their property a few years earlier, he now declared that all money owed to Jews was owed to him. It was a time of displacement and suffering, as the Jews wandered from one country to another, searching for security and stability.
Expulsion of the Jews of France
The Jews of France suffered the depredations of the Crusades, the burning of the Talmud, the seizure of their property, and finally, in 1305, imprisonment and consequent expulsion of a hundred thousand Jews by Phillip IV. It was another chapter in their ongoing persecution and displacement.
Incan Mass Relocations
As the Incan empire grew in breadth and power, the native Incan population became smaller and smaller in proportion to the subjugated population. Beginning in about 1400, the Incan rulers instituted the mitmaqkuna, where entire communities were relocated to serve the whims of the empire. The able-bodied men became forced laborers for the Incan, dependent on whatever role the empire assigned them. It was a time of great social upheaval, displacement, and the disappearance of many peoples and cultures.
Expulsion of the Jews of Spain
Perhaps the most infamous expulsion of Jews is when Spain expelled its Jewish population, numbering at a couple of hundred thousand. The Catholic authorities were afraid that Jews would cause the tens of thousands of recent forced converts to Christianity to slip back towards their old religion. By January 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Muslim armies, and they could turn their attention to the Jews. Fleeing to Portugal, North Africa, Italy and Turkey, they abandoned homes they had lived in for centuries. The alternatives were conversion, the inquisition, or execution. It was a time of displacement, suffering, torture or death.
Expulsion of the Acadians
Acadia was an area of eastern Canada ceded by France to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. As the tensions between British and French continued to rise, the former wanted to make sure that the Acadians, descendants of French settlers, wouldn’t turn against Britain. The Governor demanded they swear unconditional oaths of allegiance, but by the time the Acadians agreed to this, he was convinced that oaths were insufficient. About 10,000 people were expelled in the period from 1755 to 1763, when France finally lost its last possessions in eastern North America. It was a time of fear, suffering and displacement.
The Trail of Tears: Expulsion of the Cherokee
Although President Andrew Jackson’s military command and almost certainly his life were saved by Cherokee allies in 1814, he felt no debt of gratitude. The Cherokee had signed treaties, but these all fell to pieces with the discovery of gold in northern Georgia. The Cherokee turned to the courts for protection, and won a number of significant cases. Jackson didn’t care, and proceeded to illegally force 17,000 Cherokee from their homeland. About 4,000 died from hunger, exposure and disease. It was a time of death, a time of tears, later known as “The Trail of Tears.”
The Long Walk: Navajo
Another infamous Indian removal was the Long Walk, the forced relocation of the Navajo. Although Navajo relations with American settlers were initially peaceful, they disintegrated quickly as more settlers moved into their territory. The U.S. Army went to war against the Navajo, destroying their fields, orchards, houses and livestock. Some 8,500 Navajo were then marched three hundred miles in harsh conditions to what was supposed to be their new home. Hundreds died of cold and starvation on the way; many more died at their barren destination. It was a time of terror and privation, forever etched into the memory of the Navajo.
Internment of the Ukrainians
From 1914 to 1920, over eight thousand Canadians with Ukrainian ancestry were interred as enemy aliens because the western Ukraine was occupied by Austro-Hungary. Businessmen, farmers, housewives and children were placed behind barbed wire because of a war they had nothing to do with; a war eight thousand kilometers away. It was a sad period in the history of Canada, a time of hunger, fear and shame for the victims.
The Armenian Genocide
In 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the decimation of its Armenian population. Deportations disguised as a resettlement program were really intended as death marches. Convoys of tens of thousands of people at a time were marched into barren territory, with no provisions for food, water or shelter. Up to a million and a half Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman/ Turkish forces, in the first attempt at genocide of the twentieth century. Hitler viewed it as an inspirational precedent, as a license to kill mercilessly. The Armenian genocide was the horror that paved the way for future horrors.
In the 1930’s Stalin removed entire populations from their ancestral homelands. Among the populations who were forcibly displaced were Azeris, Chechens, Ingush, Karachi, Finns, Meskhetians, Crimean Tatars, Black Sea Greeks, Kurds, Koreans, Kalmucks, Germans from the Volga region and Ukraine and others. Many of those deportations are at the root of contemporary ethnic and national conflicts. Stalin’s callous brutality led to decades of conflict and suffering.
Internment of the Japanese
In 1942, both Canada and the United States feared that their citizens with Japanese ancestry were potential security risks. Over twenty thousand Canadians had their property confiscated, and were put into internment camps. After the war, the government refused to let them move back to the west coast, forcing them to either war-ravaged Japan, or Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. In the United States, over one hundred and twenty seven thousand Japanese Americans were interned. It was a time of racism, displacement and loss.
Expulsion of the Lhotshampa
In the 1990’s over one hundred thousand Lhotshampas, ethnic Nepalese, were evicted from southern Bhutan in order to protect Bhutanese cultural identity. Living in overcrowded refugee camps in Nepal and India, their only option is to settle in a new country. In 2008 the United States offered to take in sixty thousand Lhotshampa. Other nations are willing to take smaller numbers. Efforts at repatriation have been hampered by Bhutanese government resistance, and by the seizure of Lhotshampa land and property. There is stress, there is displacement, there is suffering, but there is also hope.
“Culture carries no privilege to exist. Cultures do not have value simply because they are. Some cultures, the world is better off without.”- Terry Goodkind
Conclusion: An Aggressive Creed
In the twenty-first century, followers of an aggressive creed are living as ordinary citizens in Europe, Australia and the Americas. They have full rights, and not subject to any serious discrimination. Many followers of this creed refuse to give up their aggressive ways, committing violence, while at the same time claiming victim status. Bombing buildings and trains, marathons and airplanes, they exploit the sense of equality and justice of the societies they dwell in. Thousands of ordinary civilians have been killed as a result. If the followers of this creed are not expelled, or deported, it will be a time of terror, a time of tears. Their callous brutality will lead to decades of conflict and suffering.
Europe, Australia and the Americas can’t reject expulsion based on what happened in the past. It would be learning the wrong lesson from history, because it’s different this time around. It’s not racism, it’s not nationalism. The followers of this aggressive creed shouldn’t be expelled because of who they are, but because of what they do. It’s the only way for western civilization to survive.