Although , it began its institutionalization with Europe’s conquest of the world. For the first time ever, a person could board a ship in a land of people with skin of one color and disembark and see people with skins of markedly different colors. Also, since the people with non-white skin that Europeans encountered were always exploited, slaughtered, or dispossessed, their differing skin color became part of the abuse-justifying ideology of the conquerors. Racism reached its zenith in the USA, which in scale, intensity, and duration is . The racism always had an underlying economic rationale, which justified the genocide of Indians, enslavement of Africans, horrific treatment of East Asians, today’s agricultural labors of Latinos, and so on. When Europeans fought each other in the imperial age, they had a rather gentlemanly way of fighting and treating captured prisoners, but when the opponents were Indians, for instance, scalping them, making clothing from their skins, and the like was standard behavior. The “souvenirs” were in that they had white skin on them. That kind of behavior was evident from the , and during the USA’s theft of temperate North America, its . Intentionally onto the Indians was part of the British bag of tricks, and hunting Indians like animals was a favorite sport of both and .
Islamic culture enjoyed humanity’s highest standard of living in about 1200, and although Europe was rising in that period, it was also seen as backward compared to the refined cultures of the Eastern Roman Empire (which never lost the ancient Greek teachings) and Islamic lands. But late Medieval Warm Period droughts may have unleashed a scourge that would be unsurpassed in ferocious destruction until the Nazis in the 20th century: the Mongol invasions initiated by . Islam never fully recovered from the Mongol invasions. , and Baghdad was Islam’s leading city before its and wholesale slaughter of its residents. Places such as China, Russia, and Hungary lost up to half of their populations. A recent study suggested that the tens of millions of deaths at the Mongols' hands may have initiated reforestation that absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to such an extent that it helped end the Medieval Warm Period. The impact was only about 1 PPM, and the coming Little Ice Age has , including the Western Hemisphere’s depopulation and reforestation due to the Spanish invasions of the 1500s.
Earth had never before hosted anything like behaviorally modern humans. Nothing came close. They wielded fire and began using it for offensive purposes, to . They had sophisticated stone tools and weapons, they mastered language and could engage in group behaviors that no other land animal remotely accomplished. They probably had sophisticated projectile weapons, and if the , they may have also . One !Kung arrow can bring down a 200-kilogram antelope in less than a day. What kind of animal in the Western Hemisphere and Australia, that had never seen anything like a human before, and would have been the of the invaders, and the large ones all reproduced slowly, could have withstood that onslaught? None that I can think of. Neanderthals were ambush predators of megafauna that were wary of humans, and whatever projectile weapons they may have had, they would have been inferior to those that behaviorally modern humans left Africa with about 60-50 kya. Neanderthals still lived off of those animals, with suffered during hunts. That would have been nothing like what the invaders of the Western Hemisphere and Australia encountered. They could have walked right up to all of those animals with no conditioned fear of humans and stuck their spears into them, maybe not even needing to use projectile weapons, much less poisoned ones. That scenario has been called the , but it would not have seemed a rapid event to the invaders. It would have been a butcher shop’s version of the Garden of Eden. Farther than they could imagine, in every direction, were animals with no fear of humans that could be killed so easily that it may have literally become child’s play. One argument by human-agency skeptics is that continental animals were subject to predation and would have begun fleeing fast. That seems like a weak argument, and here is why.
When the first Europeans arrived in Australia, islands off the coasts had not been inhabited for about 10 thousand years, when the oceans rose and cut them off from the mainland. On and islands, the wombats, emus, kangaroos, and other animals were so tame that people killed them with no effort whatsoever. Europeans on one island even built a hut for their wombats to sleep in at night, and they just pulled one from a hut when needed and slaughtered it. No mainland animals acted remotely like that. They are shy and furtive around people, for good reason. It did not matter if the environment was warm, dry, wet, or cold; all large animals quickly died off when humans arrived. New Guinea had a similar megafauna extinction pattern: sudden and total.
As the story begins, a mass slaughter has nearly wiped out a whole family of she-ones; and as members of a different family learn the news and try to care for the survivors, a renewed attack occurs. In the ensuing mayhem, a young cow is stranded from the rest, and so when they have mourned their many dead, they must set off to find her. Meanwhile, there is a rumor swirling around of a Safe Place protected from such atrocities and from the drought that is overtaking them as well. Somewhere out there is a talisman that would show the way, if they could only find it; but they must be careful in their search to refer to it only as “the that-way bone” or “the white prize,” for its power is drained away whenever it is spoken of directly as the white bone.
A modern variation on the theme is illustrated in a on the religious icons and other carvings being produced in an increasingly wealthy Asia, now the world’s major ivory market. Spectacular photos of these pieces sit in contrast to gruesome ones of slaughtered elephants and sordid heaps of dirty tusks — but also to some of live elephants, unperturbed and minding their own business, dirty tusks still on them, just as nature intended. Few other accounts show all these things together, and the combination is startling: here is raw nature, here is the exquisite potential in it that only civilization — human artists — can fulfill, and here is the bloody price of that fulfillment.
Catching an elephant from the wild is a tumultuous process that often involves the deaths of several more in the melee. Less brutally, but rather creepily, it may also entail the complicity of other elephants, who are trained to entice their wild kin into a compromising situation where they can be caught. (Another way of catching elephants, employed less now than it used to be, is to save the babies from a cull and market them. Because of the psychological problems caused by having their entire families slaughtered around them, culling experts now recommend just killing the babies with everybody else.) In transit, captive elephants are subject to extreme discomfort and often die from overheating, freezing, stifling, dehydration, or infection.
I think at the beginning of both stories, Lamb to the Slaughter is more appealing because there is a lot more tension and its more interesting than The Speckled Band....
Studies of warfare have shown that absolute population density has little influence on how warlike societies are. However, the proper way to analyze population density and conflict is probably not in absolute terms, but relative terms. Hunter-gatherer bands slaughtered each other over access to resources such as waterholes, stone quarries, and salt deposits. Ancient states of the Fertile Crescent and Mediterranean fought over access to forests, arable lands, and low-energy transportation lanes (usually waterways), and no informed observer thinks that the , after and helping to bankrupt its own economy by hosting a huge military presence in that region, if the USA was sitting atop enough high- oil to power its economy for centuries. It is the abundance of resources that supports a people’s means of production that largely determines how warlike they are going to be. Scarcity leads to violence, whether it is a or history’s richest and most powerful nation invading peoples half a planet away to steal their energy resources.
Along with the disruptions that Europe caused to the world’s people, it was depressingly common how often the natives used the newcomers to conquer their neighbors. Although Spaniards inflicted onto the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s, they often had native assistance. The Aztecs were anything but benevolent rulers; their bloody altar constantly sacrificed prisoners (it was an ), and when that ultimately conquered the Aztecs, his native allies did most of the fighting. Any natives who helped the Spaniards helped depopulate their hemisphere. When the French allied with the Huron, the first thing that the Huron did was . That backfired on the Huron, as their tribe became extinct within 40 years. In Africa and North America, when European slavers came, the natives were often only too happy to sell their neighbors into slavery, and some American tribes made for Europeans before they themselves became extinct. With a , natives almost never realized what the coming of Europeans ultimately meant. With some notable exceptions, such as and , natives could not put aside their differences and try ridding their lands of the invaders, and when some tried, it was already too late. When the British began “settling” the South Pacific, the natives used European weapons to slaughter or or .