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Posted by Nicholas on November 1, 2002 23:22:18 UTC

I'm very curious to hear what you do for a living. Are you a lawyer? You seem very enamored precision and exactness. Not that there's anything wrong with this, I just work in a field (astrophysics) where such things are impossible. We have only general concepts from which to work. Anyway, I'll reply to what I can:

"Legally, it is important to establish which rights and agreements were actually violated and by whom. I don't wish to use only the language used long ago, or the standardds of long ago.
But proportionality of misbehavior and actual liability are matters that deserve specific
high-quality work."

Although I don't think this work is useless, I suppose I consider it less important to know exactly what was violated and when, particularly when forming a moral argument. Morality is, after all, more based on general principles than specific details. I don't think any amount of details would justify genocide. I guess the main thing here is that I agree with you, all such work should be done carefully, but I don't think it was particularly important for what I was saying.

"I was referring to the idea that you had "heard" something similar. Without citation and passing strong review, there is no reason to admit little facts into evidence, even if they seem to fit a pattern. "

This is my favorite passage in your post. You and I are thinking on totally different planes here. You're thinking of this like a trial and I'm taking a more general view of humanity. Unfortunately, I don't really have time to do exhaustive research on this subject, seeing as how I have a take-home test due on Monday and I've been spending too much time on this board as it is.

As for your argument about the specifics of land ownership, let me just reword it in a way that won't lead to nitpicking. The two cultures were on different levels technologically and had different perspectives. In order for the Native Americans to sustain their way of life, we basically would have to leave them alone (i.e. sail back to Europe). Since the Europeans were not about to do this, they conquered. Can I prove this? Of course not, nobody can. It's history.

I think the basic problem with some of your arguments is that it sounds like you're trying to force a Eurocentric perspective (i.e. land ownership) onto the Native American peoples. At one point, you say, "Surely any stationary family group felt its own home was personal property." I must say this rings my BS alarm. How could you possibly know that? Perhaps they thought it belonged to some religious or spiritual entity? You give a statistic about population density and then exclaim, "There was no way to own that much land." We are in a European-dominated culture. During the period in which we are discussing, Europe was an extremely dense place, at least compared to North America. Is it possible that the idea of land ownership (at least as we know it) arises from the Europeans' struggle to deal with this density of people? Just something to think about.

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