While watching this video, I recalled this passage in Jared Diamond's book The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal:
To begin with, we do not discuss the Indian tragedy much - not nearly as much as the genocide of the Second World War in Europe, for instance. Our great national tragedy is instead viewed as the Civil War. Insofar as we stop to think about white versus Indian conflict, we consider it as belonging to the distant past, and we describe it in military language, such as the Pequod War,Jared Diamond's point is this: In the colonizing moments of Australia, Tasmania, and America, the indigenous people were mostly killed not by the army but by civilians, settlers.
Great Swamp Fight, Battle of Wounded Knee, Conquest of the West, and so on. Indians, in our view, were warlike and violent even towards other Indian tribes, masters of ambush and treachery. They were famous for their barbarity, notably for the distinctively Indian practices of torturing captives and scalping enemies. They were few in number and lived as nomadic hunters, especially bison hunters. The Indian population of the US as of 1492 is traditionally estimated at one million. This figure is so trivial, compared to the present US population of 250 million, that the inevitability of whites occupying this virtually empty continent becomes immediately apparent. Many Indians died from smallpox and other diseases. The aforementioned attitudes guided the Indian policy of the most admired US presidents and leaders from George Washington onwards (see quotations at the end of this chapter). These rationalizations rest on a transformation of historical facts. Military language implies declared warfare waged by adult male combatants. Actually, common white tactics were sneak attacks (often by civilians) on villages or encampments to kill Indians of any age and either sex.
When I read this piece of news...
Astronomer Jill Tarter, the inspiration for heroine Ellie Arroway in the novel and movie "Contact," is retiring after spending 35 years scanning the heavens for signals from intelligent aliens....I recalled the passage in The Third Chimpanzee and that video in The Guardian and thought: Why are we looking for intelligent aliens? What in the world (or in world history) makes us think that such an encounter will be peaceful? The last thing we need are settlers from space.
Tarter is stepping down as the director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the organization's officials announced today (May 22).