Are the three events exactly the same? No, of course they’re not. But that doesn’t mean the similarity isn’t interesting….
AngryBrownButch, in a post about gentrification, quotes a interview with a fashionable New Yorker she heard on the radio:
Q: Now, why do you think a neighborhood suddenly takes off like that?
Melena Ryzik: Well, it starts with the low rents. That’s the key thing -
Q: Big spaces and low rents.
MR: Exactly, exactly. And of course I think there’s also the idea for New Yorkers that you want to be the first person to discover something, so there’s a certain cache in having been maybe the first person or the first set of people living over on the Meatpacking district side of things.
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Dodosville on how Europeans settled America:
In case the Europeans weren’t totally convinced that it was OK to take people’s land by force because they didn’t believe in the Christian God, Europeans also decided to redefine what it meant to “occupy” land in legal terms. This justification was probably for some of the more intellectual Europeans as it was a less crude justification than they are heathens, do what you want to them. So the monarchs, clergymen and scholars if Europe got together and said, well, yeah those people are living on the land, but they aren’t really using the land in the way that’s intended. Civilized people built settlements, planted food in the ground, had cattle and other livestock, chopped down forests in the name of progress, and tried to grow as big as they could. The Indians of the Americas weren’t doing that, well, except for the Inca and the Aztec whose settlements were bigger than most in Europe, but we’re not talking about those people – we’re talking about the hunter/gatherers who live in small tribes – those guys weren’t using the land right and it was an affront to nature and God’s plan that people used it in that way. So since they weren’t using the land the way it was meant to be used, it was terres nullus, or empty land, and everybody has the right to take empty land, by force if you have to. It was just what had to be done – it’s the natural order and all those things.
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From a 1982 article in The Link, by Muhammad Hallaj:
The Zionists’ need to convince the world that their scheme victimized no one required them to maintain the delusion that Palestine was a land without people. When they sought Gandhi’s endorsement of Zionism, their emissary brazenly asserted to him that “Palestine itself was a waste space when we went there… No one else wanted it.” Even after the Zionists created their Jewish state they continued to insist that the Palestinians did not exist. “It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them,” Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister, said after the 1967 war. “They did not exist.“
Edited to add: I’ve added bolds to the quotes to emphasize what I was intrigued by: the tendency, in all three situations, to talk about the land as if it were empty and unused. As should be obvious, by noting this similarity I am not saying that the three situations are alike in all other ways.