An important detail from the Babylon 5 universe:

A cultural tradition of the warrior caste of the Minbari, they approached friends, allies, and new races with the gun ports on their ships open. It was a symbolic gesture, approaching open handedly to show they meant no harm. However, when Earth Alliance ships approached Minbari space for the first time, they misunderstood the meaning, and thought it to be a threat. A nervous gunner fired on the (superior) Minbari ships, and the rest of the Earth ships began firing with him. The Minbari were in space for at least a thousand years longer than humans (they fought against the Shadows a thousand years before Babylon 5 was built) and the Earth Alliance ships only destroyed the Minbari vessels because they took them by suprise. This incident led to the Earth-Minbari War, a war in which humans were almost driven to extinction, until the Minbari mysteriously surrendered at the Battle of the Line.

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