The Occupation of Bajor

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sirus
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The Occupation of Bajor

Post by sirus » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:53 am

Ok, so I just rewatched the DS9 episode "Cardassians." Great episode if I do say so myself, but I noticed something odd. In the episode the character Rugal states that in school he learned the Cardassians killed "more than 10 million" Bajorans in the occupation. A large number to be sure, but it gave me pause.

The thing is on a planetary scale that is not a large number at all. So I did some more digging. I didn't feel like watching a tone of episodes so I resorted to using Memory Alpha, so my numbers may be a bit wrong, but I hope to make it clear that something wonky is going on.

Anyway, according to Memory Alpha the number of Bajorans who died during the Occupation of Bajor is something like 15 million, a larger number, but still a bit odd. You see, again according the Memory Alpha, in the year 2378 Bajor had a population of 3.8 billion, just a little more than half of Earth today.

Now I was led to believe that Cardassia took over the whole of the planet, a planet with a population of between 3 and 4 billion people, estimating for losses and growth after the end of the occupation. Now 15 million would be a lot by no small measure, but it doesn't feel like enough when compared to 3 to 4 billion, especially for as bad as the Bajorans make it out to be.

Now for some context, and please keep in mind this numbers are meant for context and not meant to be political. In addition my numbers are harvested from Wikipedia, again I don't feel like doing a crap ton of research for this. The Holocaust, yes that one, killed between 6 million and 17 million. The Thirty Years War is estimated at killing 7.5 million. Japanese War Crimes at an estimated 3 to 14 million killed. The so called "Great Leap Forward" killed between 15 and 55 million. The Mongol Empire killed between 40 and 70 million. and the Black Death killed between 75 to 200 million.

Now in context the total occupation of a planet of 3.8 billion only resulting in the deaths of 15 million seems off to me. I don't know what but for some reason I used to think Bajor had an Earth like population density, then came the Cardassians and now it was the 3.8 billion. This would have meant the deaths of between 1.2 billion and 3 billion. I for some reason thought it was a truly massive, unthinkable number. And I don't mean to say that 15 million is a small number, but in terms of numbers in Earth's history and in terms of numbers for a planet as large as Bajor, 15 million is horrible, but not as bad as some of the mass killings we pay little mind to today.

Anyway, I am as always open to thoughts on this and I will provide links should anyone want them. I just wanted to get this out before I went insane sitting on it.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by Jpatten » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:41 pm

Just thinking about it, 15 million may not be that off, If I remember correctly the Cardassians did not engage in large amounts of simple wholesale slaughter for the goal of Genocide but instead preferring to basically enslave the planet for its resources. In that context you would not need a truly massive number of deaths. Example executions and attrition due to the working conditions could account for the numbers. Add in the general terribleness of treatment and destruction of the economy and ecology and that would generate plenty of hate as well as up the Body count without resorting to wiping whole populations.
On the other hand, the numbers may be low from a writing perspective. 15 million sounds like a Huge number even if compared against a planetary population it is a very small percentage. We aren't very good at mentally or emotionally comparing really big numbers.

I think I remember that Dukat sed to think he was being a Good guy by really trying to hold down the number of deaths to 'what was necessary or unavoidable.'

A sort of "see we could have simply bombarded the planet into rubble but didn't. You should be thankful." mentality.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by sirus » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:37 am

The thing to me is it's so often implied to have been a one sided slaughter of Bajorans and worthy of truly hating all Cardassians. But from a purely numerical basis it would look to me like the Cardassians went out of their way to not kill Bajorans. I mean in World War 2 to total allied losses on the around 3 million. Factoring in civilian loses and not counting Nazi loses it is closer to 4.5 million. And that was on 3.931 million mi² out of 196.9 million mi² (land area of Europe vs land area of Earth). If we scale up so that it is an entire planet being attacked one could assume the entire planetary military was destroyed or nearly destroyed (the Bajoran military is not referenced at all during the Occupation meaning the initial planetary assault must have either dealt with it or it did not exist). Also they refer to the "Work Camps" as "Death Camps" quite often throughout DS9 and the Cardassians are often paralleled to the Nazi regime. The thing is the Cardassians would have been crappy Nazis, they just weren't that good at killing.

It just seemed odd to me that Earth Governments of History has been worse to it's own people than the Cardassians were to the Bajorans.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by Jpatten » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:56 am

Of course you are generally being shown the story from the Bajoran side. They have an incentive for making it seem worse than it may have been, and it may not be necessarily intentional bias. They have grown up under occupation and their parents or Grandparents who Remember Bajor before it got stomped and fuel the hatred even more.
Everybody knows someone who had a friend of family member executed for some minor infraction, or who was worked to death or was made an example of.

One other possibility is the 15 million number is from the initial assault to take Bajor. The first wave that took down the military and forced the surrender. That it does not include numbers During the occupation.

The US has about.. 2 million or so in uniform I think out of a population of approx. 400 million.
If we extrapolate that percentage.. A population of 3.8 billion comes to a military of 19 million. Assuming a peaceful planet you could easily reduce that amount to a smaller percentage .. maybe to half as much. That would give you about 9 million. Then throw several million civilians as collateral damage and through attrition of the occupation and the numbers round out.

Of course the most likely is that the writers really didn't have a sense of Scale. They looked at numbers for a war and simply adjusted a little bit and didn't consider the actual number versus a planetary population.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by JM1776 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:35 am

If the Cardassians had unjustly occupied Bajor and killed even a single Bajoran in so doing, it would have been too many.

The figure was likely chosen precisely because it recalls the Jewish Holocaust, which gives viewers something concrete on which to base their vicarious outrage.

Once tragedy becomes a numbers game, it becomes easy to quantify the value and sanctity of life. And that way lies atrocity disguised as accounting.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by sirus » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:15 am

A common enough idea, one death being to many, but the concept I'm getting at is the narrative is structured to clearly state that the Occupation of Bajor was a certain thing, when the numbers to not line up with the narrative. I think the whole "more than 10 million" thing was meant to bring the Nazis to mind, but the fact of the matter is that based off the numbers that simply is not the case. The Bajorans say "Death Camps" while the Cardassians say "Labor Camps." My point is the show seems to tell us to take the Bajorans word for it, but in the end based purely off of numbers it looks like the Cardassians were not in the business of killing Bajorans.

I'm not saying that what they did was right or in any way justified, I'm just saying that it does not seem it was as bad as the Bajoran people seem to refer to it and it often seems like the Federation (which we know 2 of the 4 founding members has much worse atrocities on their home planet) just seem to let them have this massive amount of hatred toward the Cardassians. And with early DS9s approach to the Occupation being very clearly inspired by the Nazi extermination in the Holocaust, it just seems like they just took the numbers from the Holocaust and forgot to scale them appropriately.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by JM1776 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:24 am

I'll assume you didn't mean to imply that my thinking is "common", and proceed with the discussion.

Perhaps you're judging based on how non-responsive humans have become at the prospect of violence done their fellows. It's not surprising that many are jaded and unable to truly care. One person's death is a tragedy, after all, and one million persons' deaths are a statistic, as the cliche says.

We have no idea how much is too much in the 24th century. That many millions out of billions may not seem like a daunting or appalling figure to you, but to a peaceful, spiritual people who'd never experienced that kind of loss (except, presumably, for natural disasters), the tragedy might well have felt, to them, overwhelming. We may reasonably infer that the Bajorans, guided by the Prophets, their genuinely manifest gods, lived lives at peace with themselves and their environment. They were explorers, poets and musicians, farmers and craftsmen, not warriors. The worst violence a Bajoran regularly experienced before the Cardassian occupation was a judiciously-placed elbow in spring-ball.

Instead of thinking about it as a human television viewer might, put yourself in their collective place.

To be herded into labor camps (or even off-world), forced to work until past exhaustion, treated harshly, even at times cruelly, and have your women forced to serve as prostitutes to beings who've shown not only that they're physically more intimidating, but that are godless, in the service of their burgeoning evil empire—in particular when help is relatively easy to provide—would seem like the end of all things. They were deprived of basic rights and dignities. In a time when medical care, food, clothing and shelter were had in abundance before the Cardassian arrival and occupation, to lose even that amount of their population would have seemed, to them, apocalyptic.

They, as a people, had been tortured and raped.

Fifteen million, thus, might not seem like much to us. To a people who understand what the death of one great poet who might have inspired millions may be, it's a horrific loss and wholly justifies their hatred of Cardassians.

That said ...

... I would have enjoyed seeing, in the postwar era, that Bajorans were at the forefront (along with the Federation) at organizing relief for the Cardassian people. It might have been instrumental in creating a bond that would allow both sides to move into the future as allies and even, eventually, friends.

Sadly, I think there are Bajorans who, upon hearing the death toll on Cardassia, would weigh that 800,000,000 against the 15,000,000 or so dead in the occupation, and smile, thinking, The Prophets have visited justice upon them.

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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by Michael » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:53 am

sirus wrote:I'm not saying that what they did was right or in any way justified, I'm just saying that it does not seem it was as bad as the Bajoran people seem to refer to it and it often seems like the Federation (which we know 2 of the 4 founding members has much worse atrocities on their home planet) just seem to let them have this massive amount of hatred toward the Cardassians.
The murder of 10 million or 15 million, or even one during their invasion and occupation is reason enough to be angry at the Cardassians. These aren't simply numbers, they're people. Taking lives, no matter the number, so they can rape, pillage, plunder makes the Cardassians morally reprehensible, and worthy of condemnation by the Bajorans as well as by the Federation.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by Quoshara » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:55 pm

Looking at it from another standpoint (I think, but don't quote me as Bajorans were never my most studied race) that Bajorans were a very peaceful and studious culture, agrarian for the most part and lived simple lives with a strong religious base. To them even killing 10 people would have been a terrible and outrageous amount.

It was like someone going into a monastery (Catholic, Buddhist, whatever type) and just wiping out everyone. It wouldn't have to be a large amount of people for everyone to be outraged.

Or...a school. It's always horrible when innocents are killed.
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Re: The Occupation of Bajor

Post by amehatrekkie » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:58 pm

i'm thinking that the cardassians are thinking of the people they killed directly (combat, executions, etc) and not the people that died due being worked to death.
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