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I hear “Give it a rest” when stuck on a course such as borders and lines. I get it. I don’t makes the case as well as it deserves. In part, the size of some events distracts, leaving me weakened and emptied.
But do, I pray-beg you gentle reader to hear some of the intriguing puzzle of our nation with borders north and south in seeming different galaxies. I can’t understand the chasm. Attempting to see into a puzzle, does it make sense to view other borders? I hope, and so to Central Europe I often turn as one example of normative chaos.
Yes, more often than not (and only by gracious fortune has the northland been spared) the fate of ordinary folk was all but universally harsh and capricious. Tribes/bands warred for fear and to gain advantage. Nations act much the same, but with the hitch of inter-national conflict bringing bigger disaster. What then but turn history into a friendlier, supportive narrative? The Soviets claim top victimhood of WWII, but do so by fudging numbers using Belarusians, Ukrainians and Poles falling within their borders after the Soviets attacked and absorbed them. I think you’d be shocked by the number of Central Europeans jailed, put into forced labor, “resettled” in Siberia or Kazakhstan or simply shot. Between the Soviet and National Socialists roughly half those populations were chewed up. Millions of people. Millions of lives. Does history count them? Does it tell their stories? Rarely, and even then they are but a fraction of the same tale repeated ‘round the globe.
Central Europeans (similar stories come from Asia, Africa, Australia and the America’s) were abused and killed for a glorious ideal of fraternal (a likely bad word these days), universal stateless peace in a globe wide brother-sister-personhood. Difficult not to applaud a worthy aim. But as an ancient Greek said of wars at that time, “Only the dead know peace.”
By killing as many as it did the ideal goal brought peace to multitudes left in roadside ditches, settled in pits. Peace. Peaceful, also the for-show trial of political rivals to be shot, cremated, their ashes used to fill ruts in an unknown road. Peaceful. The dead know peace same as you recognize retribution when bodies become road fill. Is anything more murderous than an impossible ideal? Who to blame for failure? Like Sauron’s eye searching, a target will be found.
But whether the cruelty took place in Mongolia, South Africa or Central America the loss impacts all by destroying the contributions of those denied. Forced into starvation, a great mind will not flourish. Driven into exile, the stateless are too busy surviving to write songs or symphonies. Living in fear of a late night knock on the door is little different than fearing raiding parties bent on booty and rape. Some things called new or necessary are ancient miseries, horrors more awful than flesh eating horror film zombies.
Perspective. Try (your best I hope) to imagine in the span of a single generation Central Europe having 10 million civilians killed through neglect, cruelty, shootings or being burned alive. So many killed, why? Because the resettlement camps and gulags were full, could take no more, a problem fixed by death of the surplus. It’s virtuous to say no person is illegal (a semantic tweak of behavior into personhood), but a great many died as surplus. Surplus, excess, unneeded.
If we add the outright dead to those deported we have (the figures are impossible to know with certainty) a reasonable estimate of 20 million. Perspective, at the last US census counting slaves (1860) their number was 4 million. Aside from the big difference in numbers, which group would you prefer? Gulag and resettled people were slave labor with 10 to 20 percent dying in the process of reeducation through redemptive toil. Not the worst odds, but it seems being property of the state wasn’t an improvement over being property in other situations.
But wait a moment. Why am I wasting your time with this old stuff? Old? June 21 was the date in 1929 of “settlement” for the Mexican Civil War, though certain numbers of reprisal killings went on to settle scores and perfect the population by thinning the undesirable.
See, not too rare or unusual to find brutality and murder rising from motives that began as pure. If we think echoes and repercussions from the Mexican Civil War (some use a political title) aren’t with us to this day we’d be mistaken. But make sense of this? Good luck. The KKK (as anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic as it was anti-black) took side with the Central (Revolution styled) Government against the Catholic opposition forces.
Yes, pretty much a religious war less than a century past took place in our southern neighbor. Throw in more players; the Vatican and US Knights of Columbus. All make sense to you? Some elements exist in common, among them liberty to follow beliefs versus a state imposed belief system. Seems there’s always someone with a notion to make people better. They need power to do so. Then what to do with those who don’t agree or agree only partly? Try and get a scope on the number hung from phone poles by the government or massacres attributed to the Cristeros side.
A couple million total deaths is a guess, but who knows? Who knows, indeed? Like as not a contemporary search won’t mention the Cristeros reacting, eventually with violence, to state repression of religion. To achieve its full perfection the state had to deal with its competition, which it did, from 1910 to 1934, as long as the turmoil in Central Europe and driven by some of the same causes.
A new definition or requirement (regarding race or gender or familial status, etc.) draws new lines, imaginary but real as is the line saying US jurisdiction here and Canadian there. Those who draw lines in language or on land rule. Clean handed, these rulers prefer not to view what happens to the living. They see the imagined future and not the toll of dead nor what’s done to those left living.