Friday, 22 November 2013

DNA and a History of Slavery and Genocide

A History of Slavery and Genocide Is Hidden in Modern DNA | Surprising Science

New techniques of DNA sequencing and analysis, combined with an understanding of neo-Darwinian evolution, is proving a powerful tool with which to study human history with far greater accuracy than is provided by archaeology. Quite simply, we carry a record of our history in our DNA.

I remember reading in one of Richard Dawkin's books some years ago - I forget which, possibly The Greatest Show On Earth - that it should in theory, if only we could read it in sufficient detail, be possible to 'read' the evolutionary history of any species because each stage in evolution leaves its mark on the DNA. We should also be able to read changes in Earth's climate and major changes in ecosystems because each species which survived them would have needed to adapt, and adaptation means changes in DNA.

Well, if the article in the Smithsonian online magazine, Surprising Science, is anything to go by, we are closer to that than seemed possible just a few years ago. It is now possible to take the DNA of a representative sample of a group of people, like the population of the Caribbean Islands, and read their history in their DNA. A group of medical researchers led by Andrés Moreno-Estrada and Carlos Bustamante of Stanford and Eden Martin of the University of Miami have found that it is possible not only to pinpoint the areas of the world that populations came from, but also the time when waves of migration ocurred. It is also possible to read the mass genocides of other populations that these migrants replaced.

The team found that it is possible to create a portrait of the Caribbean migration and population changes to back before Columbus in 1492. They found that the original native population collapsed almost immediately when the Europeans arrived. They were decimated by diseases introduced from Europe against which they had little resistance and starvation because they were dispossessed of their land. Those who weren't killed for their land were enslaved. Once they were all used up the ensuing labour shortage was solved by importing slaves from Africa.

African slaves were imported in two main waves, the first from the Senegal area, and the second much larger 'pulse' some time later from the Congo area further south. The problem the European slavers had was in surviving the tropical diseases further south. A saying of the times was, "Beware, beware, the Bight of Benin; few come out though many go in." The Bight of Benin is the point on the West African coast where it turns south again after travelling east. This finding cross-checks well with the historical record.

By examining the X chromosome the team found something else. The Native American DNA is more prevalent there than on other chromosomes. Because males always inherit their X chromosome from their mother whilst females inherit one from each parent, this shows that far more European men fathered children with Native Americans women than Native American men did with European women. The clear implication here is that Native American women were used for sex by European men and were quite probably raped.

So, when Christians proudly boast that Christianity is the predominant world religion, remember, it became so by being exported to the New World, Africa, Asia and Oceania from Europe by the same people who waged genocide against native populations and put the slave trade on an industrial scale because that gave the best return on their investment.

This may come as a surprise to those who claim human morality comes from the Bible and that Christians somehow occupy the moral high-ground by virtue of their reading of the it, and so hold a monopoly on humanitarian behaviour and should be consulted on all matters of ethics. The genetic evidence shows that European Christians may well have been the most predatory and inhumane culture in human history and that the Bible was used as a pretext for dehumanizing other people prior to exterminating them or reducing them to beasts of burden.

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