Sunday, March 9, 2008

Alternate History #1.1

Continuing from the scenario in which Russian possession of Alaska sparks a North American Amerind revolt, I realized that there is a horrible ending for this line of history. In the last sentence of the post, I wrote a tossed-off line:
Assuming this crisis escalates quickly, the US could find itself
needing to put down reservation secessions by 1950. This is just five
years after the last of the Japanese internment camps closed, and it's
not totally out of the question that they could be reopened once more
for another US minority.
Now here's a thought. In real life, the validity of internment has never been repudiated. There were several Supreme Court cases about whether such a scheme was valid or constitutional, and none of them ended with a definitive verdict against internment. The most direct on the subject, Korematsu, explicitly allowed internment. Since the case was decided, it has been reevaluated. This seems wonderful for freedom-loving people. Unfortunately, the case was not overturned. Instead, the facts upon which the case was based were found to be lacking and the verdict was evacuated. What this subtly implies is that if the facts that certain military officials basically fabricated about Japanese Americans had been true, the internment would have been allowable.

Scared to death by communist Amerinds demanding and later receiving independence in Canada (in three different SSRs - bringing the American total to four Amerind SSRs - Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut and Saskatchewan) the US interns its own Amerind population. Or maybe they are offered a choice: leave the US and reside in the SSRs or be interned until the threat passes. "The Threat" can only be resolved by building a huge expensive border fence with the SSRs, which cover one third of the US's northern border.

The point of discussing internment so much is that if two different groups are interned within five years, and even in our current history the courts and government can't bring themselves to invalidate the strategy, then a much less secure US might find internment to be a legitimate strategy going forward.

Here's where things get truly horrible. Amerinds make up no more than two percent of the US population. Now it's the 1960s, and the SSRs are sealed off. Amerinds are freed but suspect to the white population. As in our history, the largest minority in the country begins to push for full rights. In the 1960s, the black population decides it is finally time to stand up.

Let us be honest: the Civil Rights movement had frequent socialist (if not communist) leanings. While anti-Civil Rights politicians argued that the blacks were manipulated by commies, this was never the case. Besides, it is entirely understandable why minorities might turn against capitalism: its systems had failed them and socialism or communist offered ways out. But that's never the way politicians saw it. For them, especially in the South, the black unrest was fully and utterly Communist with an uppercase C.

Now we have the following situation: blacks demand rights and reparations, many leaders are socialist or Christian socialist (much like Dr King). In this world, unrest can legitimately be met with internment if the people are scared enough. Blacks make up between 12-20% of the US population. Black internment would be, in raw numbers, the worst violation of American liberty since the passage of the 13th Amendment ended slavery.

Some might say that this could not happen. Of course, the threat to the US would have needed to be much more dire than it ever was in our history. But the Amerind SSRs scared this alternate America. It could indeed have carried out black internment. But could it have been done logistically? Could a country intern one in eight of its citizens? I think it could be done, but it would hurt the US economy and require sacrifices from the free population. Let's remember that when it was taken by Nazi Germany, Poland's population was 10-15% Jewish. Now there are 1,000 Jews in a country of 40 million. This is a testament to the logistical possibility of black internment. Just as with Jewish deportation to camps, many of the suspect group would assume their plight was temporary and it was not worth fighting. Many Jews gave themselves up to the German authorities; no doubt many apolitical blacks would do the same. And while black internment would not be a prelude to extermination, it would permanently dislocate blacks from the American economy and culture.

Remember where all this started? The purchase of Alaska? We've come a long way down a horrible road.
Moral of the story: If you can buy some useless territory, then do buy it no matter how much the other politicians tease you.

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1 comment:

Kefira said...

Good for people to know.