Sunday, July 18, 2010

European Diaspora

Few people think in terms of Columbus's voyages to the "New World" as the beginning of a European diaspora. It's much more interesting and romantic for historians to portray Columbus as an enterprising merchantman seeking new trade routes to new lands and bringing the benefits of European culture. But there is an alternative viewpoint; that Columbus was really an early "refugee". Of course that tends to go counter to what we are normally taught.

At a fundamental level, western Europe at the time of Columbus was weak. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Muslim's. Muslim expansion into Eastern Europe continued unabated until July September 1683 with the Battle of Vienna. Besides the Muslim expansion, there was the Mongol Empire. The Mongol Empire dissolved dissolved in 1368, but the Grand Duchy of Moscow apparently did not gain full independence until 1480.

If one thinks of population movements in terms of "pressure", the New World was a "vacuum" of virgin relatively unpopulated areas ripe for settlement. Eastern Europe however possessed hostile aggressive expanding civilizations that "pushed" Europeans west. For example, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620. But 1620 also saw the defeat of the Poles by the Muslims at the Battle of Tutora. Given this situation, the logical approach for Europeans seeking a better life would be to move west.

What specifically prompts this post, is a "60 Minutes" video interview with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. While this is an interview of today, it's significance is that Western Europe continues to ignore the continued multi-century ethnic cleansing of Christians from formally Christian areas. This is one of the few times that a major news program has acknowledged this piece of "neglected" history. In that video Bartholomew laments that Western Europe has abandoned the Christians in Turkey and that the Christian population continues to decline (move out).

As another example of the decline in a Christian population because of out-migration, you also may be interested in the video Tiabe, the last Christian town remaining in the Holy Land (Palestine). I have also brought up the European diaspora here.

On the topic of balanced news from major news sources (such as the Washington Post and the New York Times); when Easter roles around the news media routinely provides front page coverage on the Roman Catholics celebrating Easter, but have you seen any articles on Orthodox, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian Christians celebrating Easter?

1 comment:

Patrick said...
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