Slavery abolition ‘commemorations’ are a farce


by Sunny
28th March, 2007 at 8:25 am    

At the slavery abolition bicentenary yesterday, Toyin Agbetu from Ligali disrupted the proceedings by striding into the middle of the event and shouting for the Queen to apologise properly. The Guardian has an account here.

The Archbishop had just delivered his main address and the service had moved on to “confession and absolution”. But the reading was stopped in its tracks by Mr Agbetu’s outburst: “You should be ashamed. We should not be here. This is an insult to us. I want all the Christians who are Africans to walk out of here with me!”

After what seemed an eternity, Mr Agbetu was shuffled towards the quire, in the direction of the exit. But he pointed at the Queen and yelled: “You, the Queen, should be ashamed!” The monarch did her national duty by remaining icy calm. Mr Agbetu was now directly beneath the prime minister.

He turned to face him and Mr Blair glared back. The thousands of guests watched in hushed anticipation, wondering what would come next, wondering if Mr Agbetu might even leap on him. Instead the protester screamed: “You should say sorry!”

I’ve had my run-ins with Ligali before, when I accused them of stoking up tension over the Lozells riots by asking for a boycott of Asian businesses. So I’m not necessarily a fan shall we say.

But in this case I think his sentiments and actions were justified. This so-called ‘commemoration’ of 200 years since the abolition of slavery has been a farce for two reasons.

Firstly over the word ‘sorry’. It is completely right to point out that while the current generation of Britons had nothing to do with slavery. But the monarchy, as an institution, did so directly. The parliament did so too directly, until someone could not face their conscience and decided to ban it despite lots of opposition.

Pointing out that ‘lots of others did it too’, as Simon Jenkins and Melanie Phillips have done so over the past week, is a playground argument. The fact that some Arabs and Africans were also involved does not negate the facts: that it was overwhelmingly practiced by whites in America and Western Europe; and that it was driven by deep-seated racism that saw Africans as sub-human primates that could be used and abused at will.

Instead, we get people trying to take the moral high-ground by pointing fingers at others in an effort to undermine British complicity. It’s pathetically tragic. I expect that from Melanie Phillips but not Simon Jenkins, who I hold in high regard.

The ‘commemorations’ are also a farce because they seem to be more about canonising William Wilberforce than actually remembering the horrors of what happened.

Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce. The real heroes of ridding the world of slavery were the slaves who rebelled and fought back and tried to bring some dignity to their people. You know, the people who actually died trying to change the course of history… remember them?

Lester Holloway has written a spot-on sarcastic editorial asking why a film about slavery, Amazing Grace, can only stomach one black man in the cast.

It is like making a film about the German Holocaust and only showing good Germans, while excluding any images of the Nazis, or of Jews suffering in concentration camps. The story of Anne Frank told a story from the personal viewpoint of a Jewish victim, and Steven Spielberg’s Schindlers’ List did not flinch from exposing the frightening realities of the Nazi campaign of genocide.

The poster for Amazing Grace reads: “One Voice Changed the Lives of Millions.” Perhaps one day we will get a flick told from the point of slaves themselves, called Amazing Resistance. We won’t hold our breath.

I’m not vaguely surprised many British African-Caribbeans are annoyed. Yeah I get it, white people don’t want to watch a film where whites are the baddies.

But this absurd obsession with Wilberforce only points to one thing: the establishment is still having trouble dealing with the horrors of slavery. This whole state of affairs has been a complete farce and I for one am glad Ligali showed it for what it was.


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  1. Clive Davis

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  1. G. Tingey — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:19 am  

    Sorry (!) but you are wrong, and Mr Agbetu/Ligali is a nutter ….

    “Others did it” may or may be a playground argument, but, let us not forget the African leaders who cheefullly captured and sold slves to the various European slave-carrying nations.
    Nor the Arabs, who carried on slaving until stopped by the British, and later, the French and others.

    Why is NO credit being given to those who managed to stop the slave-trading, and then full abolition (though in the British Empire, effectively that meant abolition everywhere except the W. Indes.)

    Incidentally, there is a very good book on all this, just called:
    “Abolition!”, by Richard S. Reddie (ISBN: 9780745952291 ) – and yes, he is brown, not pink – as if it matterd – and perhaps it does.
    He tells the stories of all the others, besides Wilberforce, including the many slaves, ex-slaves, ex-owners and others who helped the reform come.

    Yes, slavery and trading was a great evil.
    And we got rid of it.
    Should this NOT be a cause for celebration?

    And should we not be concentrating on the slavery that is STILL going on, rather than agonising over that past victory?

  2. DavidMWW — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:43 am  

    The question of whether or not there is anyone alive today qualified to apologise for slavery is moot. A question that isn’t asked so often is – is there anyone alive today qualified to accept such an apology and to forgive?

    Is it possible that both apologiser and apologisee are aggrandising themselves and thereby trivialising the whole issue?

  3. Katy — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:56 am  

    I thought that Simon Jenkins’ real point was this:

    The point of history is not to cherry-pick incidents through which we can tell ourselves how much better we are than our forebears.

    Once you start choosing incidents in times gone past to apologise for, where do you stop? Colonialism? Agincourt? 1066? How about sexism? I’m a woman; we were effectively slaves for thousands upon thousands of years, and that carried on right into the twentieth century. In many parts of the world it continues to this day. Where’s our public apology and church service for those millennia of discrimination and abuse?

    The only thing I expect of anyone is that they learn from the bad things that happened and don’t let them happen again. That’s what history is for. It’s not there so that we can wallow in an orgy of self-indulgent guilt that isn’t even ours and kid ourselves that we’re doing something valuable.

  4. Old Pickler — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:57 am  

    Can’t wait for the Arabs to apologise for the slave trade and for the raids by the Barbary pirates as far as the South Coast of England. The Arab slave trade started earlier, continued longer and was ever crueller than the transatlantic slave trade. It continues to this day in Darfru.

    Can’t wait for the Africans to apologise for selling their own people – Africans made far more money out of the slave trade than anyone else.

  5. Katy — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:57 am  

    That’s a good point by David, I think. When I was at university every German student I met apologised to me for the Holocaust as if we’d both been there at the time. It’s ridiculous. I’m not entitled to an apology and if I was, it isn’t this generation of Germans that would owe it to me.

  6. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:18 am  

    Can’t wait for the British-engineered Bengal famines of 1770 and 1943 where an estimated 10 million and 5 million lives were lost respectively.

    Are they even mentioned in history books taught to English kids?

  7. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:23 am  

    Yeah I want the queen to cherry pick 15 million Bengali babies and kiss their brown bums by way of symbollic retribution.

  8. Katy — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:26 am  

    Not when I was at school, Sidster. I learned about them at 10:18 this morning.

  9. Leon — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:28 am  

    Toyin….hmmmm….

  10. The Dude — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:35 am  

    To G.Tingey and DavidMWW.

    What a load of bollocks! For crying out loud Christians have still not forgiven Jews for the death of Christ, 2000 years after the event and never mind the profits STILL being made on the legacy of slavery. I know this mindset well, having had first hand experience of it in South Africa, after the liberation. You try finding a ordinary white South African that accepts responsibility for the evils of aparteid! It’s like looking for rocking horse shite. 10 years have passed and already white people are saying that they are another generation, devoid of guilt of their ancestors.

    No love is lost between me and those asrehole at Ligali ( I made history after I was kicked off their chatroom), but on this occasion I’m with Sunny and I’ll stand full square with my brother Toyin Agbetu. What he did yesterday was in the best tradition of black people’s resistance against the greed and arrogance of the white man.

    Well done to BBC2 and Ms Dynamite for their documentary on Nanny Maroon and her 10 year war against the British. The Jamaican Maroons fought two wars against the British in the 18th Century.
    The 1730s Maroon War cost several hundred British casualties while Maroon losses are believed to have been light. In short Nanny and her band of brothers kicked British ass while catching bullets in their own.
    It will be a cold day in hell before the Maroons apologise to the British for taking the liberty of fighting back. The same goes for the Zulus. Now all we need is the film. Spike Lee, John Singleton…..where are you now?

  11. Arif — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:37 am  

    This gets me thinking that apologies mean different things to people. Even if the person apologising is the abuser themselves and the one they apologise to is the one they directly abused.

    1. If you think an apology primarily means taking responsibility for your own actions, then you can’t apologise for someone else.

    2. If you think an apology primarily means showing a willingness to make amends then you may be able to apologise for someone else.

    3. If you think an apology primarily means showing sympathy for anothers’ situation (in the way we might say “I’m sorry” to someone on finding out a relative has died) then you are able to apologise for something that is no one’s fault.

    4. If you think an apology means recognising you have done something wrong, then there might be no victim to apologise to, or you are apologising to a part of yourself. The victim is incidental to the apology.

    I think supporters of an apology tend to see it as a mixture of types 2 and 4. Opponents tend to see it as type one, and that any they are being asked for an apology of type 2 which is problematic because the abuser and abuser themselves are not around, or a meaningless apology of type 3 (of the kind we already have as “deeply and sorrowfully regret the horrors and injustice of slavery” or what have you)

    Perhaps Ligali does not feel that a genuine recognition of the evil of slavery is made until there is an apology of type 2 by the institutions which previously supported it and now commemorate it. It might appear as a change in emotional fashion rather than a change in underlying values. An apology might convince such people of such a change in values because they would think it would be an apology of types 2 or 4.

  12. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:37 am  

    No love is lost between me and those asrehole at Ligali ( I made history after I was kicked off their chatroom), but on this occasion I’m with Sunny and I’ll stand full square with my brother Toyin Agbetu. What he did yesterday was in the best tradition of black people’s resistance against the greed and arrogance of the white man.

    abso – fucking – luteley.

  13. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:45 am  

    arif – very good points.

  14. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:49 am  

    the point is it has been acknowledged it was an awful thing – that much has been achieved. the work now needs to be done to stop human trafficking and modern day forms of slavery – e.g. people who may as well be slaves. e.g. as you pointed out a while back Sid – the appalling situation of some housemaids in some of these Gulf countries. and of course at home in dear old bangladesh – the recent deaths has stirred up some comment which is good. Let’s try and do something about the problems here today.

  15. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:50 am  
  16. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:51 am  

    ‘here’ i mean the world over actually..

  17. brachyury — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:02 am  

    apologising for slavery is no skin off my nose. I have no idea whether my ancestors had anything to do with it or who I am apologising to– but if you really value an insincere apology here it is. Sorry. Easy but pointless.

    Talking about the other slavers is not just a distraction however it points to the fact that the last couple of weeks have been an exercise in victimology. Agbetu doesnt seem to be interested in an apology from the Ashanti who actually captured all the slaves from the interior– and who ran slave plantations before europeans came. He isn’t interested in the slave trade that existed before or after the Atlantic trade. He is interested in apologies from white people only because he wants to claim a moral superiority for being black.

    The British have more pressing matters to apologise for: namely colonialism well into the 20th century.

  18. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    food for thought: if people want to go around asking for apologies for slavery – are they also going to ask Mullahs now to apologise for what the Caliphates did in the past? if the Queen is a rep of the institution that is ‘monarchy’ then can we say Mullahs are also ‘reps’ of the institution that is ‘religion’? as it effectively allowed people captured in religious war to be enslaved.

    but perhaps we’re ok to leave that behind in the past? and focus on the positives of the here and now that we’ve agreed that was crap and none of that stuff anymore thank you very much.

    ah..but are we all agreed on this point?

    So perhaps more pertinently -the questions should be posed to those islamic scholars who are not in favour of reform of ‘fiqh’ – ( islamic jurisprudence) i.e. they’re willing to stay with it in its 9th century incarnation-which as we know ‘regulated’ slavery with various caveats and what have you – and ‘concubinage’ and all that sort of stuff. yes no one says we should do it now ( because of international law) but the theoretical point remains: if scholars are glossing over this – are they the ones who need a bit of prodding – because they seem to think that by admitting slavery was terrible would be to cast a blight onto the so-called glorious caliphate etc. etc.

  19. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:09 am  

    Imperialism doesn’t come only from people with a different skin colour! If we want apologies for imperialism i want one from all armies throughout history who ever went and sacked a city.

  20. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    but let me see..my family have been landowners for centuries round where I come from –so they probably dabbled in a nice bit of what was practically slave labour. so i daresay i ought to be apologising as a ‘descendent’ to the descendants of those people.

  21. Titus Aduxass — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:24 am  

    If by apologising for the British contribution to the xAtlantic slave will this mean we don’t have to give anymore financial aid to Africa or spend millions on ethnic integration programmes?
    What about apologising to the Scots of today from the Scots of the 19c clearance programmes.
    What about the abuses of the Serfs in Norman times.
    What about the abuses of the non landed classes in the UK throughout history.
    No apologies! it just does not make an ounce of difference to what has happened through the history of the human race.
    Get over it.

  22. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:25 am  

    if you can find instances where your descendents “dabbled” in forcing people to work under slave conditions against their will, then sure, go for it. But I doubt you’ll be able to equate feudal class inequalities as slavery. Otherwise, the Queen will be apologising for her ancestors to descendents of her own countrymen.

  23. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    well quite – a lot of people do think the monarchy should be got rid of for those sorts of reasons. anyhow, there have been terrible things happening in this world – arguing about what was worse and whom we should feel the most sorry for is moot unless it somehow is constructive for the here and now

  24. Chairwoman — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:30 am  

    Sorry folks, these institutionalised apologies are just a waste of time and money.

    The only point of them is for ‘Our Leader’ to do his pained look, coupled with his hand wringing. It makes nothing better.

    What is needed is the old education, education, education. We need equality and respect today, we can’t have it the day before yesterday.

    I am sure that my family, untermenschen in Poland during the slave-owning era, had absolutely nothing to do with the disgusting trade. I am not sure whether my ancestors had anything directly to do with the execution of Joshua ben Joseph, or if he, along with many other popular biblical figures, even existed. But if apologies will cheer everyone up and allow us to move on to a better future, then, on behalf of myself and my ancestors, I’M SORRY, WE WON’T DO IT AGAIN.

    Can we now do something about today and tomorrow? Thank you.

  25. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:32 am  

    Joshua ben Joseph AKA Joshu ben Jhwa?

  26. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:33 am  

    so say we can ignore feudal class inequalities for now.

    but i’ve seen how some people treat their servants in dhaka – locked up when they go out – not allowed to have a life of their own – not acknowledged effectively to be an equal human being and I think that’s effectively dehumanising someone and treating them like a sub-human primate. they are not technically slaves but nevertheless it is a SERIOUS human rights issue. ALL the more serious because so many people think it’s not a problem and perfectly normal thing to do!

    ANd ditto for men who think females working in their household are their ‘right hand possess’ and effectively raping them. All these things brushed under the carpet – as long as they’re praying away in their mosques, who knows what goes on inside the houses.

  27. Chairwoman — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:36 am  

    Sid – You reckon?

    BTW, I think a large man shouting at a little old lady, regardless of what her title is, is unpleasant.

  28. Anna — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    It is like making a film about the German Holocaust and only showing good Germans, while excluding any images of the Nazis, or of Jews suffering in concentration camps.

    Yeah that is totally the increasing trend. We like to play sorry without looking it in the face.

    I hate these arguments about apologies, they are fascistically top-down in nature and always ask questions only about perpetrator’s responsibility. They never ask about victims. For some communities an apology is important, and yes, it is about the continued existence of an institution that abused them, and the continuing social inequalities that started with things like slavery so long ago. How arrogant does one have to be to deny a people two words, that cost nothing?

    For others, apologies are seen as cop-outs with which political leaders can absolve themselves of responsibility and thus get out of further efforts which would actually cost money, and actually initiate any kind of improvements in these communities.

    Maybe we should stop fucking for other people whether or not an apology is useful/meaningful/insulting/whatever to them. Maybe we should (and I know this is a revolutionary concept) actually listen to them. And yes, this would mean accepting that various marginalized communities are all different and may actually want DIFFERENT THINGS and we can’t just lump them all into one class of the generally downtrodden in some freakishly Saidian way.

  29. The Dude — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    Chairwoman

    Be very, very careful for WHAT you wish for.

  30. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    You should add Brendan O’Neil, to the list of peeple saying ‘NO APOLOGY, NO SURRENDER!’. A pretty remarkable concensus across the political spectrum from Mad Mel to the Revolutionary Communist Party.

    Rather sad how they all consider themselves to be mavericks, saying the unsayable though.

  31. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:49 am  

    I don’t know Toyin’s exact views on this subject so it’d be unfair to comment directly, but though im not in favour of any reperations and think an apology would be pointless I have to say his ‘intervention’ yesterday was a far better reminder of the anti-slavery movement than the bland souless ceremony that was taking place. Infact in my opinion some of the ‘commerations’ are insensitive and offensive.

    To give an analogy ‘The Trench’ was widely condemned for attempting to recreate life in WWI, it is impossible for us to truly understand what life was like under those conditions and trying to empathise through shitty TV programmes – or by marching around in chains for slavery – is about as pointful as attempting to recreate the holocaust (as AA Gill pointed out in his review).

    We cannot understand what life was like so any act of rememberance for something that happened before our birth is reduced to a ceremony with as much passion as a middle manangers conference in Swindon. The abolition of slavery was about hatred and anger at something that was wrong, it was about taking risks, offending society and making as much noise as possible. It wasn’t a polite process, it wasn’t about dull readings on morality it was about…passion for a cause. In any true sense of the word Toyin’s interference was a greater reminder of the abolition movement than the great and good who sat silently tutting.

    The fact the coverage about the incident focusses on the ‘security threat’ to the Queen and Tony Blair as much as why Toyin did what he did says more than people care to realise. As does the arresting of Toyin for doing little more than speaking out. Perhaps those that arrested him, witnessed what happened or condemned him out of hand should contemplate on what the abolition movement was really about rather than what they’d like it to be.

  32. The Dude — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:49 am  

    Too many just say sorry and negate the second part (we won’t do it again).

  33. Arif — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    This discussion is going down an uncomfortable path for me. From my perspective, the people who took part in slavery were people like you and me. The people who were enslaved were also people like you and me. The people who take part in all these crimes people are now bringing up into the discussion are too.

    So I feel I am being invited to respond by shrugging and saying it is ridiculous to apologise because it is nothing to do with me. Or in sonia’s case to respond by proving it is nothing to do with me by doing what I can to stop slavery taking place now.

    I think by making a meaningful apology, I would be recognising that I am where I am because of lots of injustices. I don’t have to apologise to anyone, as it is a type 4 apology. But it would mean that I do not justify past cruelties, but will try to be the kind of person who opposes such injustices. And then it can be seen as sincere if I am moved by contemporary injustices, like those sonia brings up.

    It is this kind of inner process that commemorations can generate in people at their best.

    Responding by rattling off of injustices, as though there are too many to genuinely care about, or by ridiculing people making such an inner journey to recognise and remove the evil in themselves as meaningless gesture politics…. it seems to me that these enable us to avoid important lessons from history.

  34. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:58 am  

    Oh and though i don’t call for an apology nor do i wallow in the achievements of others. Those of you who find comfort, and dare i say it pride in the past should remember there is no difference between celebrating or glorifying Nelson and Churchill and throwing yourself at the feet of the nearest black man.

    Achievement through association is the first act of the unworthy.

  35. The Dude — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:04 pm  

    During the Second World War, The Catholic Church conspired with the Nazi with the holocaust of the Jewish community in Europe. I’m Catholic and to my dying day I’ll feel shame that this crime was committed in my name. I wasn’t even born at the time but it negates nothing because I’m still guilty by association. I’m still Catholic. The same goes to the children who were abused by Catholic preist. They too deserve my apology and so much more.

  36. The Dude — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    Right on! Kulvinder.

  37. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:10 pm  

    The same goes to the children who were abused by Catholic preist. They too deserve my apology and so much more.

    JC though i disagree with you I cannot deny you are consistent in your logic, and that actually means far more to me. I personally do not apologise for what i did not do, but nor do i attempt to take anything positive – in a personal sense – from the past. Your pov honourable.

  38. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

    *Your pov is honourable

    :)

  39. Arif — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:15 pm  

    Kulvinder, I agree with your point (#34), that bigging up your supposed forbears shows as much an achievement as the glory of watching your favourite football team winning a match from a sofa.

    But the choices we make of who and how we remember the past reflects the identities we are trying to create for ourselves. I don’t want to ridicule people attempting to understand their moral identities by facing uncomfortable questions. If people identify themselves as civilised or from a particular moral community, which a lot of people do, then recognising that this civilisation is actually built upon or capable of terrible crimes puts them in a dilemma. How they resolve the dilemma (eg minimising their importance, or complicating their own relationship to contemporary authorities, or developing a more complicated personal identity) reflects our personal morality.

    I think the eventual result is more likely to be Kulvinderesque if the process is one which is self-critical than one which is self-satisfied.

  40. Anna — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

    Kulvinder, your logic only makes sense to me if you exist in a vacuum.

  41. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:23 pm  

    and nature abhors a kulvinder…

  42. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

    Kulvinder, your logic only makes sense to me if you exist in a vacuum.

    I prefer to call it not being a hypocrite. To give you an analogy one of the most debated topics in political philosophy is the nature of inheritance. The classic libertarian line is the state should not interfere, but that the state should also prevent the transfer of debt from one generation to another.

    To me both things are two sides of the same coin. Positive and negative inheritance is simply dependant on context, if you take position thats dependant on the absolute value of that then any transfer between generations is idiotic.

    I do not ask for my father’s debts nor his wealth. I do not ask for his ‘wrongs’ nor his ‘rights’.

  43. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:40 pm  

    I have to say that for the last few days, reading some of the editorials written by white journalists and bloggers regarding the commemoration of the 200 years has been really enlightening. Because it has shown, definitively, that some white people in modern Britain are shit scared of history, and that they are really jittery and insecure these days.

    I watched an interview with the writer and academic David Dabydeen on BBC News 24 — so eloquent and stirring he was about the whole issue. The question of ‘apologising’ was raised and dismissed as unnessecary focussing on one reaction, one theme, and that the wider feeling amongst African-Carribeans in Britain was that this period in our country’s history should be acknowledged, should be reconciled with how we live today, and how we should move on together.

    But instead the theme of an ‘apology’ was taken as the raw meat upon which the mad dogs would feed and turned the whole commemoration into an example of how white people are being victimized and persecuted today (see Melanie Phillips latest craven and immature Daily Mail screed), and how ‘western civilisation’ is on the brink of collapse because of political correctness, and excessive self-flaggelation. That’s right — white people are being persecuted by the commemoration and consideration of the effects of the slave trade, of buying African men and women like animals, shipping them thousands of miles across an ocean like hogs tied for slaughter where they lay in their own excrement (stopping at Liverpool and Bristol on the way), then whipped and made to work on plantations for generations (the ones that survived, were not thrown overboard, skinned alive for attempting to escape) — all for the benefit of the British economy and the enriching of this nation.

    So for this commemoration, white people are being persecuted. Everything twisted and construed to feed into their paranoia about how British civilisation is under threat, all because black people decided to commemorate and discuss their historical wounds.

    Their shamelessness and hysteria knows no bounds.

  44. Anna — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    It’s cool that you don’t ask, but you get them anyway.

  45. Anna — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:45 pm  

    Jagdeep, very well said. And like I mentioned in my first post, none of this discussion is actually about the marginalized communities in question at all, and that is what’s so unsettling.

  46. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:45 pm  

    Uhm no i don’t.

  47. Anna — on 28th March, 2007 at 12:51 pm  

    Ok so where I am today has nothing to do with the community in which I was raised, the socio-economic class of my parents, the background in which they raised me, and the privileges and debits I had due to that background. You’ll have to forgive me because I’ve been living in Oxford for the past four years and there is likely no better town in the world to show us that we inherit our father’s wealth and debts. Do you really believe in a social tabula rasa? That’s what I’m getting from what you’re saying.

  48. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:00 pm  

    Kulvinder makes a deep slicing surgical point though — and it cuts through everybody and all of us of all races, nations and backgrounds.

    There is NO COMMUNAL CULPABILITY after the generation has passed that commited the ‘crime’ — so no apology is needed — acknowlegment and reconciliation certainly, but not apology (and I would even say that there is no collective guilt ever even in the generation in which the crime was committed — no collective attribution of guilt — no matter how absolute the complicity was — but this extends the argument too far)

    What I want to reiterate is Kulvinder’s point — and that is, should you be bloated, pumped full of pride at the achievments of your supposed ancestors either real or constructed through your nation, ie: Nelson, all your trading colonialists, Clive of India, Stanley and Livingstone etc etc etc —– why the hell are you screaming in pain when someone raises darker deeds and interpretations of historical actualities? You want the glory of the past and flinch at the pain and horror at the same time?

    Of course you do — because ‘western self-confidence’ is at stake here, and the simple act of commemoration of the abolition of slavery is actually a devious attempt by black marxists and scary Africans to persecute white people and bring the walls of western civilisation crashing down. That is the discourse being propounded by some — that is how they choose to commemorate and reflect on this.

  49. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    The Jamaican Maroons fought two wars against the British in the 18th Century. The 1730s Maroon War cost several hundred British casualties while Maroon losses are believed to have been light.

    Mr Dude — a good book to read on a similar subject, if you have not already, is
    The Black Jacobins by CLR James

    Synopsis for those who can’t be bothered to click on the link:

    In 1791, inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, the slaves of San Domingo rose in revolt. Despite invasion by a series of British, Spanish and Napoleonic armies, their twelve-year struggle led to the creation of Haiti, the first independent black republic outside Africa. Only three years later, the British and Americans ended the Atlantic slave trade. In this example of vivid, committed and empathetic historical analysis, C.L.R. James illuminates these epoch-making events. He explores the appalling economic realities of the Caribbean economy, the roots of the world’s only successful slave revolt and the utterly extraordinary former slave – Toussaint L’Overture -who led them. Explicitly written as part of the fight to end colonialism in Africa, “The Black Jacobins” puts the slaves themselves centre stage, boldly forging their own destiny against nearly impossible odds. It remains one of the essential texts for understanding the Caribbean – and the region’s inextricable links with Europe, Africa and the Americas.

  50. Rumbold — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

    “BTW, I think a large man shouting at a little old lady, regardless of what her title is, is unpleasant.”- Well said Chairwoman.

    Examining a country’s history does not necessitate apologizing for bad things. Saying sorry for other people’s behaviour is pointless; concentrate on reforming your own. We study history not to exult or condemn our forbears, but to understand why we are in the situation that we are in.

    What would be the practical effect of an apology? Would modern day slavery disappear, and would Africa suddenly become prosperous and safe?

    Sunny: “Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce” – Presumably dedicating decades of your life to helping free others makes you not worth a mention.

  51. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:24 pm  

    Good place to segue guru Bob:

    Old pirates, yes, they rob i;
    Sold I to the merchant ships,
    Minutes after they took i
    From the bottomless pit.
    But my hand was made strong
    By the and of the almighty.
    We forward in this generation
    Triumphantly.
    Wont you help to sing
    These songs of freedom? -
    cause all I ever have:
    Redemption songs;
    Redemption songs.

  52. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    Sunny: “Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce” – Presumably dedicating decades of your life to helping free others makes you not worth a mention.

    Sunny occasionally lapses into sixth-form rhetoric mode, but it’s happening less and less these days, thankfully.

  53. Rumbold — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

    Sunny’s use of language on this occasion is disappointing, but then the whole article is.

    Sunny: “Yeah I get it, white people don’t want to watch a film where whites are the baddies.”- The film is about Wilberforce. Simply because not everyone white in it is a baddy, does not make it some sort of vast cover-up. I am happy to see white baddies in films about slavery, but it does not follow that every film about slavery has to have such baddies.

  54. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

    One thing: reading the history of Haiti should make anyone recognise exactly what a political genious Wilberforce was, fully up there with Gandhi and Mandela. It wasn’t just that he contributed to abolishing the slave trade: he did it without the kind of epically destructive war that still makes Haiti what it is today. Haiti has 1/6th the per-capitia GDP of its neighbour the Dominican Republic, and that’s pretty directly traceable to that war.

    See also the war that made the US South, and Red State Republicans, what they are today.

    I can’t help but see a bit of inconsistency with some of Sunny’s other views if he explicitly prefers a war to end an injustice, presumably because a peaceful solution is insufficently rad, or whatever.

  55. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

    soru — evidence of Haiti’s economic status today being directly traceable to the war please.

  56. Kulvinder — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    Do you really believe in a social tabula rasa?

    Yes i believe in one. I’m unsure what you’re asking, whether i think that system exists at the moment or whether i think it ought to. If the former, no i don’t but i believe in it. If the latter yes.

    My academic achievements are my own if those that live in Oxford can’t say the same more fool them.

  57. Sid Love — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:09 pm  

    I once saw Mr Lester Holloway, an editor of BLink, appear on a talkshow on BanglaTV (a Bengali/English language satellite TV channel) with a member of Hizbut Tahrir. He also defended the HT against the very vocal anti-HT criticism of a phone-in caller. Ouch!

  58. douglas clark — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    I largely agree with what you are saying. I think though that some historical figures are raised up as a cultural aspiration for others to follow, admire, or sometimes, frankly denigrate. By discussing the likes of Nelson, or Churchill we are looking at pivotal figures, who did shape the country we live in, or at least stopped others from shaping it. Whether you care for the examples is neither here nor there, you could choose your own.

    Where I agree with you is that guilt dies out, when the last guilty man dies. If we are only talking about the transatlantic slave trade from the point of view of the transportation of slaves, then responsibility for it ceases with the death of the last sea captain who did it. They were actors on a stage, and they are gone now. We all look forward, and the date on the clock is 1807, not 2007. Clearly, that leaves aside the economic benefit that the children of the sea captains may have gained, but no-one, as far as I know, would be able to unravel that after 200 years.

    What very clever lawyers are willing to do is lay blame on the only non mortal entity that could still be held responsible in some way, and that is the State. It existed then, it exists now, it is responsible for it’s past actions. That’s how the arguement goes. I am not happy with it, not one little bit. It is a lawyers arguement and it has the smell of fees to me. And an extension of blame culture, by which I mean refusal to take responsibility for ones self and look for the main chance of extracting cash from others.

    When I first had the story of the triangular trade told to me when I was very young, I was sickened by it. I still am. But we cannot change the past, and the future starts now.

    So, Sonia, about these Bangladeshi folk in post 26, what contortions are people going through to say it isn’t slavery? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck……

  59. bananabrain — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

    @the dude:

    i wouldn’t hold up the zulus as an example of, as it were, proud black resistance against encroaching white colonialism, given that shaka (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaka ) killed far more black people than he did white people and referred to non-zulus as his cattle and dogs. this apologetic myth of glorious resistance fighters does a disservice to history, as it has done in many other places under the cover of anti-imperialism.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  60. Chairwoman — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:22 pm  

    Dude @ 29

    ‘Be very, very careful for WHAT you wish for.’

    My mother always said that, but continued ‘Or you may get it in a way you won’t like’.

    I always wanted time to and by myself, just to read, listen to music etc. Now that’s all that I have.

    You are also right about apology without the determination to see that history does not repeat itself.

  61. Katy — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:23 pm  

    Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce. The real heroes of ridding the world of slavery were the slaves who rebelled and fought back and tried to bring some dignity to their people.

    They were all heroes, Sunny. Wilberforce lived in a time when slavery was considered to be acceptable by those around him, and therefore what he did was a real achievement by the standards of his time. You’re judging him by the standards of today when slavery is generally considered to be unacceptable. Be fair.

    As for your suggestion that white people don’t want to watch films where they’re the baddies, that’s absolute cock. There are plenty of white villains in films made by white people, and they sell.

  62. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

    61. yep I agree Katy

  63. Chairwoman — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    Can I point out on behalf of a social and ethnic group that I have no connection with whatsoever, that the majority of the population of the British Isles in the 17th/18th/19th century were disenfranchised, illiterate agricultural workers, earning a pittance, and living in tied accomodation, not only getting no advantage from the slave trade, but probably not even aware of its existence.

  64. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    douglas clark

    I think you missed my point about Nelson and ‘pivotal historical figures’ — it was in the context of those screeching about how western civilisation is under attack and having its self-confidence shattered by hordes of black ideologues in the shape of the commemoration of this period of history — and it was a reflection on Kulvinder’s about not wanting either the wealth or debts of his father.

    The reparations and apology issue is something separate — and if truth be told not really a singular or consensual aspect of African-Caribbean’s in Britain’s thoughts on the subject, which is all about reflections on history and circumstance. It has been a neat piece of meat for those who want to contextualise this whole thing as another assault on British civilisation and a nefarious attempt to destroy the self esteem of western civilisation and persecute white people — and that illuminates so much about the atmospherics and moral arithmetic of some people today, their insecurities and fear, and it’s an ugly and mendacious sight.

  65. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    funny you’re so worked up about Wilberforce Sunny – I would have thought his actions were the sort of thing you’d admire..? after all the kind of thing you’re trying to do with the whole issue of forced marriage is similar to the kind of thing Wilberforce was trying to do right.

    It’s one thing for people to get bound up with personality cults – that’s what leadership is all about really – but doesn’t mean that negates the positive aspects of such people’s action.

  66. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    no one person ever makes ‘change’ or ‘difference’ that sort of thinking is down to a unsophisticated understanding of social dynamics : every little thing is linked to lots of other little things – individuals have agency butalso have institutional constraints – and it’s a complex web that results.

  67. sonia — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:35 pm  

    Rumbold 50 and 53 good points

  68. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

    @Jagdeep

    http://www.theglobalist.com/DBWeb/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=4776

    The key point being:

    ‘Hence European immigration and investment were negligible and restricted by the constitution in Haiti after 1804 but eventually became important in the Dominican Republic. ‘

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti

    ‘ The blockade was virtually total. The Vatican withdrew its priests from Haiti and did not return them until 1860. France refused to recognize Haiti’s independence until it agreed to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs, to compensate for the losses of French planters in the revolutions, in 1833. Payment of this indemnity brought the government deeply in debt and crippled the country’s economy.’

    It’s not so much the war itself, as an inability to work through and accept the result of the war as legitimate, as settling things. The result is that noone (and Emperors, Kings, Republics, democracy, dictatorship, US occupation, and UN peacekeeping have all been tried) has ever been able to put the country back together.

    See also: US South, post-WWI Germany, current Iraq.

  69. Twining or Black in Blue — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    And what about new forms of slavery in today’s British society where Black and Asian people in power sell their own?

  70. Katy — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

    Excellent points by Sonia. And I would also make the point that slavery was abolished by the combined efforts of black and white men (men) working together. Ditto the feminist movement: it wasn’t just women in isolation who brought about changes, but women working with those men who listened to them and realised that injustice was being done and worked with them to try and end it. And the black civil rights movement in America was hugely assisted by white people who listened and agreed and worked to change the opinions of other white people.

    These movements only really start to take off when people from different backgrounds and cultures work together. That’s the whole point. These weren’t generally separatist movements that we’re talking about, although obviously in every situation there will always be a minority of people who believe that they are better off living with each other; these movements were about inclusion and unity. People were looking for equality and unity, not equality and segregation.

  71. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:46 pm  

    Soru, that looks to me as much to do with France and other countries not accepting that they were kicked out of Haiti — their belligerence and strangling of the nation out of vindictiveness to a certain extent. This is an obscenity:

    France refused to recognize Haiti’s independence until it agreed to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs, to compensate for the losses of French planters in the revolutions, in 1833. Payment of this indemnity brought the government deeply in debt and crippled the country’s economy

    So Haiti was crippled by the debt of compensating French plantation owners, plantation owners who used slaves. That was in 1833 — 42 years after the revolution. It seems that European powers were very assiduous in claiming reparations and financial compensation for their own people after the historical outrage of slaves freeing themselves — I mean really, the ironies and obscentities of history mount up. Haiti was strangled at birth.

  72. Twining or Black in Blue — on 28th March, 2007 at 2:47 pm  

    Katy, good point about equality and unity, but some people want segregation also.I have seen it myself inside the police service.

  73. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    @jagdeep: absolutely

    The lesson should be this: killing people without changing minds is of very limited use.

    That’s why Wilberforce, and perhaps more precisely, Olaudah Equiano, should be a bigger hero than http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0785063/, even though I am willing to bet anyone that the latter film will be much bigger box office.

  74. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    Katy

    Wasnt the original Zionist movement, the kind of thing that George Elliot writes about in ‘Daniel Deronda’, partly caused by Jewish people being fed up with depending on the largesse of gentile Europeans in the face of historical crimes commited against them? I’m just saying — moral squalor often begets pain and pain begets separatism. I’m not saying it’s right — and Sunny is really disastrously wrong in his dismissing of Wilberforce. But I can understand why some people like Lester Holloway feel vexed that the rich history of African resistance to the oppression of slavery is never represented in mainstream culture, and it grates to see these marginal stories glossed over again and again.

  75. Leon — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:07 pm  

    I wish I could find the bloody article but I read a good piece recently about Wilberfarce and how he didn’t really have much interest in the issue at first. Seems to me that he was just a typical politician (and you can always judge them by the same standards no matter what time you live in!) riding a particular political current.

    Anyway, I find it interesting so many people seem to be taking this so personally, why the focus on white people etc but not on the British state and companies (which imo should accept its full historical responsibility for it’s trading in African slaves)? I don’t see any value in demanding apology from ordinary [white] people especially as those getting most hot under the collar are unlikely to have descended from people that were slave owners.

    I also find it interesting there seems to be very little discussion about its aims, looking at British history just what do we want to learn from it and how do we want that knowledge to shape our future?

    Any ‘apology’ needs to be backed up with a plan to make amends (saying sorry is easy, talk is cheap etc). I wouldn’t go as far as to say reparations, simply because that’s a can of worms with no possible consistent or fair resolution.

    I would however go for a full (radical in it’s objectivity) re-balancing of British history and it’s teaching in schools so everyone is fully aware of the good things Britain has done and the terrible things. Let’s be upfront and honest about Britain’s history and thus its present.

    That, to me, would be a worthwhile step forward toward reconciliation for the peoples of these lands.

  76. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:08 pm  

    That’s what David Dabydeen was talking about in his interview Leon.

  77. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

    I mean, the apology thing is a big red herring — it has allowed people to discuss the ‘lunacy’ of ‘PC gone mad’ again — result for the Daily Mailers for sure.

  78. douglas clark — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    Sorry if I misunderstood your post. I’d originally intended to reply directly to Kulvinder, but you raised some extra issues…..

    Have I got this right? What we are supposed to be doing is celebrating the end of our involvement in slavery 200 years ago? And, instead, we are actually seeing that – the abolition of slavery – as something to beat ourselves up about? If that is what these commentators are doing, then hell mend them.

  79. Leon — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:14 pm  

    That’s what David Dabydeen was talking about in his interview Leon.

    Right, it wasn’t that piece I was thinking of though…

  80. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    Douglas I don’t know if celebration is the correct word — ‘commemoration’ is more accurate — and yes hell should mend all those who react to it with assertions of a conspiracy to ‘destroy western civilisation’s self-esteem’ and negate the kinds of things being said and reflected on by reducing it all to a bunch of black ideologues demanding money and seeking to berate all white people everywhere over this.

  81. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    Not ‘destroy western civilisation’s self-esteem’, ‘destroy western civilisation’s idea of morality’.

    Look at the success of 300, which is just as much propaganda as Amazing Grace, except the message is not ‘in an injust society, you can be a good person if you try’ but ‘you kill people, therefor you rock’.

    Presumably, in the future, white people will exist. For the forseeable future, those people will have heads, within which will be brains, within which will be thoughts.

    What thoughts do you think will work sustainably as part of a harmonious society?

  82. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    Soru that’s just an invitation to frilly daisy-chain hippy speculation about how we can all live together peacefully man….

    I don’t think rumbustious debate precludes that, although pre-supposing and assuming that black people (or Asians) are extraneous to western civilisation and not intimately bound up in the history of ‘the West’ (Toussaint L’Overture inspired by the French Revolution, and a million other things) — and contextualising a discussion of that history in all its pain and glory as being outside the remit of our common heritage, and a form of self-flagellation, is a sure way to disinherit people, objectify them as insidious outsiders, and render them aliens forever.

  83. bananabrain — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

    jagdeep:

    Wasnt the original Zionist movement, the kind of thing that George Eliot writes about in ‘Daniel Deronda’, partly caused by Jewish people being fed up with depending on the largesse of gentile Europeans in the face of historical crimes commited against them?

    i’ve not read the book. however, i would question whether anybody ever got fed up with depending on the “largesse of gentile europeans”; in fact, in eastern europe and russia, where the zionist movement began to take root, people were fed up with pogroms, blood libels, lack of representation, general religious prejudice and plain and simple lack of freedom. like many other C19th ethno-political movements, they saw nationalism as a chance to get “out from under” and determine their own “national destiny”.

    there was also the political impetus given to the fledgeling movement by theodore herzl who became convinced by the dreyfus affair that jews would never get a fair deal even in a nominally democratic secular european state. as we found out, removing the religious prejudices of history (and thereby allowing jews to escape from discrimination through conversion to christianity) simply inspired jew-haters to come up with a form of anti-semitism that could not be so easily evaded, namely “scientific” anti-semitism, based on ideas about the jews as a “race” and it was this, as we know, that eventually gave rise to the attitude of the nazis, where having one jewish grandparent would get you classified as “subhuman” and subsequently murdered.

    the other driver for classical “cultural” zionism was the general C19th cult of “naturalism”, which rejected jewish “ghetto culture” as that of the bookworm, the weakling and the victim of “backwardness” and “superstition”, in favour of the bronzed, back-to-the soil, progressive, strong and vigorous socialist who would take no crap from anyone, particularly a bunch of flea-ridden middle-eastern peasants who needed modernising and europeanising. i think we all know how well that particular trope has worked out.

    the thing that really enabled it to catch on was the real attachment that we had always had to our ancestral homeland – there were a couple of attempts to get us to move to somewhere else with “no inhabitants” (uganda, if you can believe it) none of which fortunately caught the imagination. only the land of israel could have done it.

    but, just as you say, “moral squalor often begets pain and pain begets separatism” – and, as we have seen in all C19th nationalisms, separatism itself begets pain.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  84. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:13 pm  

    ‘rumbustious debate’ is cool, and not just because that is a rather excellent word.

    It’s only if and when people were to take it up a level, to lawsuits or even violence, that I’d stop saying ‘I disagree with that particular point’ and start saying ‘please don’t do that’.

  85. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    in fact, in eastern europe and russia, where the zionist movement began to take root, people were fed up with pogroms, blood libels, lack of representation, general religious prejudice and plain and simple lack of freedom

    That’s exactly what I meant — in the face of all that, non Jews were not exactly queuing up to do something about it or reflect on the disease within their societies that allowed these things to happen. Liberal gentile largesse couldnt be relied upon.

  86. douglas clark — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:27 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    Quite the man, Toussaint L’Overture, wasn’t he?

    You are right in saying that we ought to be more aware of the pain and less of the glory of our common history. The way it is taught now does feed a jingoistic attitude, I think. Could be part of the explanation for our willingness to go to war too easily.

  87. Jagdeep — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    It’s not even that Douglas, of being more aware of the pain. It’s about understanding that these histories are not separate from ‘yours’ — they belong to ‘you’ and are intimately bound up with the fibres of this nation and shouldnt be contextualised as outside the national narrative. It’s about accepting the complexity of ‘our’ history — about Britain’s encounter with Africa, the Carribean, and Asia — 400 years of this history.

  88. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

    Sunny,

    (i) “Pointing out that ‘lots of others did it too’, as Simon Jenkins and Melanie Phillips have done so over the past week, is a playground argument.”

    No, it’s not a playground argument. Slavery exists today. Just think of all those poor, defenceless, bruised and battered young women who suffer day-to-day, year-after-year under the clunking fists of their black and brown slavemasters. In India and Pakistan especially, women are less well nourished than men, less healthy, more vulnerable to physical violence and sexual abuse [note: vaginal tearing is one of the most common complaints that Indian doctors receive from their female patients.]

    In many nations, women are not full equals under the law: they do not have the same property rights as men, the same rights to make contract, the same rights of association, mobility, and religious liberty. Instead, they are treated as mere instruments to the ends of others – reproducers, labourers, sexual outlets, agents of a family’s general prosperity. Even when she is not abused, she is unlikely to be treated with warmth, nor is her education likely to be fostered. Should her husband die, her situation is likely to become worse, given the stigma attached to widowhood in South-east Asian cultures.

    (ii) But the monarchy, as an institution, did so directly. The parliament did so too directly, until someone could not face their conscience and decided to ban it despite lots of opposition.

    Apologising for past evils is not predicated on any organic metaphor of society or its institutions. Rather, it is based on a neo-Nazi, blood-and-soil conception of politics and human genetics. According to this crude and sinister worldview, white people should apologise for slavery because the legacy of slavery is “inherited” in our genetic code. Hitler used a not-so-dissimilar argument for wanting to take back the Sudetenland – which he did. Asking for an apology – or, worse still, reparations – is explicitly racist. I have argued, on a previous thread, that racial differences are an empirical reality and that IQ differences are an all-too-real possibility, and yet, I’d never be so stupid as to pine for genetic culpability. That’s just evil.

    (iii) “Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce.”

    Well, this doesn’t surprise me. Scott Burgess says it better than I do.

    (iv) “I’m not vaguely surprised many British African-Caribbeans are annoyed. Yeah I get it, white people don’t want to watch a film where whites are the baddies.”

    I welcome your candid remarks. For it strengthens my case against mass immigration and the inevitable Balkanisation of Great Britain. With millions of new African, Muslim, and Asian immigrants pouring in, we can expect an intensification of the Race Relations Sweepstakes. The forces of Organized Touchiness will never rest. Every white person is destined to become a casualty of the “guilt war” – people who have asserted, suggested, or said things that might possibly be construed to imply anything that Lee Jasper or Sunny Hundal finds prejudicial. Never say anything that reminds these people of slavery or the Empire, unless you are prepared to do a lot of grovelling… no-sirree!

    (v) “This whole state of affairs has been a complete farce and I for one am glad Ligali showed it for what it was.”

    Ligali is just as dubious as any white supremacist organisation. Toyin Agbetu is an admirer of the Black Power fanatic (and admirer of Hitler) Stokely Carmichael, who once urged that the people of Brixton should be armed with hand grenades. But of course, I don’t expect anything less than a shining endorsement from our race-relations comrades at Pickled Politics.

    Well, congratulations guys: you’re now just as stupid and irrelevant as this guy.

    Amir

  89. ZinZin — on 28th March, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    For crying out loud Christians have still not forgiven Jews for the death of Christ, 2000 years after the event

    The Dude that is not true.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_2

  90. Chairwoman — on 28th March, 2007 at 5:29 pm  

    Zin-Zin – Unless of course your surname’s Gibson.

  91. Chris Stiles — on 28th March, 2007 at 5:33 pm  

    Rather, it is based on a neo-Nazi, blood-and-soil conception of politics and human genetics
    ….
    For it strengthens my case against mass immigration and the inevitable Balkanisation of Great Britain

  92. ZinZin — on 28th March, 2007 at 5:47 pm  

    Gibson is part of a dissident catholic group opposed to Vatican 2. Don’t tar me by association I would never call you a … well I dare not type it.

  93. lithcol — on 28th March, 2007 at 7:50 pm  

    “don’t know much about history, and I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. History is more or less bunk. It is a tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.” ~Henry Ford.

    Wish that we could dismiss history so easily. Unfortunately history hangs around our necks like the proverbial albatross ready to be exploited as justification for whatever ends by one grievance group or another.

    Yes European involvement in black African slavery was despicable and is I think fully acknowledged. What is not so widely acknowledged is the complicity of certain African kingdoms that already had a well entrenched domestic slave system. The opportunity to sell slaves to whitey must have been seen as a heaven sent opportunity to enrich themselves, over and above the trade with Arabia.

    The abolition of slavery in 1807 by Britain may be overhyped however its significance should not be dismissed.

    History may not be bunk, but Henry was assuredly right when he stated “the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”
    Slavery in one form or another is endemic. We can acknowledge past inhumanity but it does us no good to dwell on it. It detracts from the real world problems all around us.

    No apologies, just sadness regarding the continuing inhumanity. To use historical injustices to stir up enmity between peoples just adds to the inhumanity. As one of the posters pointed out, in many parts of the world it is women who are bearing the brunt of modern day inhumanity, as they have done throughout recorded history.

  94. Don — on 28th March, 2007 at 8:16 pm  

    No living person bears a shred of guilt for events in which they had no agency. However, it is fair to recognise, like Pip, that the prosperity we enjoy comes from a tainted source. And by ‘we’ I mean anyone who benefits from that prosperous legacy of slavery. Regardless of ethnicity. If there is guilt upon those living today, it is not genetic. Share the benefits, share the guilt.

    The legacy of slavery is not in Amir’s wild idea of guilt ‘“inherited” in our genetic code’ but in the fact that our comparative affluence owes much to a vile exploitation of those we could exploit. Still is, with every dirt cheap item of food or clothing we buy.
    If we want to make ammends for injustice, start with those who are still suffering it, to the material advantage of everyone here.

    Fine, say sorry. Open a couple of museums. Introduce some courses into the educational system. Case closed. Maybe in two hundred years all the efforts of todays’ progressives will be worth no more than the cheap sneers Wilberforce has been collecting because he doesn’t meet our discerning standards.

  95. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 8:29 pm  

    ‘It’s about understanding that these histories are not separate from ‘yours’’

    Well, they are only seperate in that some of them are French or American hisotry, and it is kind of a mistake to think that the role of racially-identified groups within those specific histories map directly to the corresponding groups within UK history.

    For example, when they make the Toussaint film, one possibility for the main villain for the second half of the film would be the white frenchman Sonthanax.

    The Commissioners found the colony in a condition approaching to prosperity. Instead of profiting by the favorable dispositions that prevailed, and the special good feeling with which he was received, Sonthonax preferred stirring men’s passions afresh.

    “Since his first visit he had become obsessed and his hatred of the whites grew fanatical.” (Parkinson, p. 106) Neither was he loved by the whites for his noble efforts in emancipating and arming the slaves. Overly sentimental and idealistic, Sonthonax fought Toussaint’s efforts to encourage the cultivators back to work and the émigrés back to their property. “All his affection, all his effort was directed towards the black masses, not towards the black leaders who he thought used their status in order to accrue both money and women. At least he was true to his Republican principles, but he was impractical and unrealistic; in his eyes the blacks could do no wrong and he saw himself as their redeemer, not Toussaint, who lived for nothing else but to be considered their hero, and he would stop at nothing to gain the love and respect of the black people.” (Parkinson, p. 106)

    Indeed, in December of 1796, Sonthonax suggested to Toussaint that the whites should be massacred.

    I don’t think that corresponds to anything in UK history, unless Ken Livingstone takes a half-step to the left.

  96. lithcol — on 28th March, 2007 at 8:38 pm  

    Don,
    The wealth generated by the slave trade was peculiar to its time and was restricted to the few. Poverty for the majority was endemic in Britain until fairly recently, and it was not relative but real poverty.

    At the end of the second world war this country was broke and heavily in debt. The indigenous population with the help of eager immigrants rebuilt the country.

  97. Don — on 28th March, 2007 at 8:55 pm  

    Lithcol,

    The direct wealth may have been limited to a few, but it was one of the principal engines of imperial power, building the infrastructure and shaping the patterns of trade.

    I’d agree that much of that wealth was expended in the two world wars. And of course I agree that until recently real poverty was the lot of most inhabitants of these isles. But I’d still maintain that we became and remain a prosperous nation (however the cake was sliced) through exploitation. I don’t feel guilty about it, I just recognise it.

  98. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:37 pm  

    But I’d still maintain that we became and remain a prosperous nation (however the cake was sliced) through exploitation

    That’s obviously not entirely untrue. But I do think there is a very dangerous false idea related to that, which is that the way to become prosperous in the here and now is to go exploit or kill some people.

    There is actually a serious Maoist theory, held by people with degrees, high military ranks and political positions, that massacres and slavery are a necessary precondition to economic development.

    And, consequently, a good thing.

    They would say the UK, France and Japan comitted massacres overseas, Germany, Russia and China at home, and so they are all prosperous. South America, India, and the arab world failed to commit sufficiently widespread massacres, and so are poor.

    Pretty recently, Mugabe’s deputy in Zimbabwe said something on the lines of that there were 30% too mnay people in that country, but that was a solvable problem.

    Luckily for people who like to think murdering industrial quantities of women and children is not the way of the future, it seems to be pretty much entirely mistaken, for example:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/p26567w70x7k1gp0/

    Abstract Murder of the population by the state has been common historically and in modern times. I estimate a demand function for state-sponsored murder and find that it obeys the law of demand. The main focus of the paper is estimation of the change in the growth path of economies that practice democide relative to those that do not. On average, the rent-seeking loss associated with democide is about a 20 percent loss of wealth.

  99. lithcol — on 28th March, 2007 at 9:45 pm  

    Don,
    In reply , I could say it is still the case today. Multinationals go where labour is cheapest and export the wealth generated. Uncontrolled migration to this country, legal and illegal, keeps labour costs down. We may all benefit generally, but some of course benefit much more than others. The slave labourers benefit not at all. The disparity between the wealthy and the general populous has never been greater. We have a socialist government, excuse me.

    This government boasts that we have a successful economy. On paper yes, but at what human cost? I live a fairly comfortable life. The product of the upward mobility of the 70’s. Unfortunately there is a limited supply of well paid jobs for the well qualified. More going to university and incurring huge debts. Graduate, where are the jobs?

    The slave trade may have provided some of the seed corn for the industrial revolution, but it was science and its application in technologic advances and the harnessing of the indigenous population that was the engine for the remarkable advances of the 19th century. Advances which also accelerated demands for social change.

  100. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:13 pm  

    Chris Styles,

    (1) “Rather, it is based on a neo-Nazi, blood-and-soil conception of politics and human genetics”

    (2) “For it strengthens my case against mass immigration and the inevitable Balkanisation of Great Britain.”

    There’s no contradiction. Blut und Boden is a racist ideology. “Balkanisation” is a sociological description. Given our history of absorbing newcomers peacefully, I was disposed to be sceptical of the Yugoslav analogy. But after reading only a few chapters of Pat Buchanan’s State of Emergency I found myself, against my will, shaken and convinced. The new influxes, chiefly Muslim here and Mexican in America, are totally different from early waves of immigrants – and far more dangerous. At present rates, it won’t be long until there are NO majority white Christian countries on earth. And the new nonwhite majorities will be deeply hostile to the natives… just look at Ligali.

    The more time I spend in London, the more I keep asking myself: what ever happened to the nation I grew up in? This is the historic homeland of William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill. And yet – through our own collective guilt and post-imperial masochism – we’ve allowed foreign journalists like Sunny Hundal and race-relations commissars like Lee Jasper to make us feel uniquely evil and genetically culpable, even though there are far greater evils being perpetrated by blacks in Africa and browns in Asia and beiges in Arabia. But no, no, no, no, no… they don’t care about contemporary slavery in, say, Nigeria or Saudi Arabia,… just as long as they stick it to The Man in ol’ Blighty.

    Diversity isn’t a strength… it’s a fundamental weakness. One only has to look at the rise and fall of Lebanon in the last century to appreciate the devastating effects of mass immigration and multiculturalism. Read it.

    Amir ;-)

  101. douglas clark — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:15 pm  

    lithcol,

    On the graduate front it reminds me in a way of the days when you couldn’t act until you had an Equity Card and you couldn’t get an Equity card until you’d acted. It seems that there are quite a lot of jobs out there for graduates, but only after they’ve had some experience.

  102. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:36 pm  

    The new influxes, chiefly Muslim here and Mexican in America, are totally different from early waves of immigrants – and far more dangerous. At present rates, it won’t be long until there are NO majority white Christian countries on earth.

    Mexicans are white Christians too, you stupid ass redneck racist.

  103. Don — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:42 pm  

    lithcol,

    I wouldn’t argue with any of that, the case certainly remains the same today. Abolition ended (although not completely or immediately) the most egregious form of that exploitation, a form that pre-figured the twentieth century by taking universal, age-old callousness and brutality and wedding them to industrial method and economic theory. But the basic system remains. Couldn’t agree more.

    And there is no way I am denigrating the blood,sweat and tears it cost the common workers to build the country up. I’m acutely aware of that. I’d mention my pit-yakker backgound, but that could look like claiming virtue by association, which – as Kulvinder rightly noted – is the true mark of the mediocre.

    I think we more or less agree, except perhaps to say that the seed corn determines the nature of the crop. Slavery informed and deformed the way Britain engaged with the world as it grew in in wealth and power.

  104. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:42 pm  

    Juanita Punjita,

    “Mexicans are white Christians too, you stupid ass redneck racist.”

    Wrong! Mexican immigrants are exclusively brown. “White Mexicans” are found higher up the political and economic chain. Mexico is a racially segregated society, you stupid lentil-sipping Leftist.

  105. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:44 pm  

    Wrong! Mexican immigrants are exclusively brown. “White Mexicans” are found higher up the political and economic chain. Mexico is a racially segregated society, you stupid lentil-sipping Leftist.

    Better that than a racist lowlife which is what you are.

  106. Don — on 28th March, 2007 at 10:49 pm  

    Amir,

    Seriously, man. No snark intended, but you need to move out of London. Never mind the salary, you should consider what it’s doing to you.

  107. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:02 pm  

    Juanita,

    Buchanan’s book relentlessly cites statistics that will give you goosebumps. One in every 12 illegals has a criminal record, and in Los Angeles, for example, 95 per cent of all homicide warrants target Mexicans. Some libertarians reply insistently that the current immigration is a net plus for this country, but even on purely economic terms – setting side such considerations as morality, culture, and national character — Buchanan makes that hard to believe. Moreover, the Mexican government is deliberately fostering invasion across the Southern border and encouraging the “Reconquista” of the Southwestern states.

    Buchanan also cites the anti-black, anti-white, and anti-Semitic attitudes of many illegals, and how they’re turning parts of America into miniature versions of the Balkans.

    But no: I’m the racist.

    Ha ;-)

  108. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:03 pm  

    Yes, you are a racist, deal with it, you pathetic redneck.

  109. Rumbold — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

    Amir:

    “foreign journalists like Sunny Hundal”-

    Er, Sunny is British.

    “Wrong! Mexican immigrants are exclusively brown”

    You have checked all of them, have you?

    Moronic seems like a nice term.

  110. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:12 pm  

    Juanita,

    “Yes, you are a racist, deal with it, you pathetic redneck.”

    Redneck? Yes. Guilty as charged. Racist? Most definitely not. Realist? Yes. I prefer telling the truth to lies. Political correctness doesn’t bother me in the slightest. What does bother me, however, is when ignoramuses try to trivialise the term “racist” or use it in such a pernicious way as to divert attention from the Balkanisation of British society, or, similarly, the growing intolerance of many ethnic minorities living in this country. You should learn to accept criticism. I’m not going to handle Mexicans or anyone else with kids’ gloves. Fuck that.

  111. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:14 pm  

    Amir, don’t be ashamed of being a shit eating racist. Dont deny it or whinge and complain when you are called a racist because that is what you are. A lousy fucking racist. Racist Racist Racist. Be happy and proud of what you are, you smelly stinky racist.

  112. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:15 pm  

    And go and eat shit, you smelly shit eating racist bastard :-)

  113. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:17 pm  

    Rumbold,

    “Er, Sunny is British.”

    No. He was born and raised in India (I think). He was educated in Britain (I think). But he enjoys lecturing war heroes like Patrick Mercer about how “evil” and nasty he must be for speaking candidly about race in Army life.

    ““Wrong! Mexican immigrants are exclusively brown”

    Illegals are virtually all brown. Mexico is one of the most racially segregated nations on planet Earth.

  114. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    Shut up smelly racist :-)

  115. lithcol — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:19 pm  

    Amir,
    You rant and rave and of course somewhere in your missives there are bound to be some grains of truth, however you hyperbole sometimes obscures the messages you wish to convey.
    Actually, who cares for the writings of a minority journalist in a minority publication like the Guardian? Where is the impact on the population at large? Minorities of any race or political stripe are usually of no interest to the majority.
    As for Lee Jasper, he is widely regarded as an overpaid joke. He exist because our Ken exists. When Ken goes so will Lee. Will Ken go? Yes, he is developing a god complex, infallibility and all that.
    Yes London has changed, and some parts have changed more than others . Along with most capital cities in the West it attracts dynamic people from around the world. Together of course with criminal elements and chancers ( they should of course be identified and kicked out). Many have integrated and prosper, while others have indeed marginalised themselves and are relatively poor in comparison.
    Your comments on countries like Nigeria and India are of course valid, however I would add that they have laws in place to prevent abuses, they are just not effectively enforced. Sounds familiar, there is a raft of recent legislation in this country that is similarly not enforced.

  116. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:20 pm  

    Juanita,

    It’s good to still see that the Left are able to have a mature and articulate discussion about identity politics.

    Coz, ya know…

    This is IDENTITY POLITICS.

  117. Rumbold — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:22 pm  

    Amir, why do you post with the title of a Muslim lord?

    As for Sunny’s Britishness, he had better clear that up.

    Juanita- It is easy enough to defeat your chosen opponent without resorting to such language.

  118. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

    Amir dont try and be sarcastic and funny because you are a stinky racist. Be proud of what you are with your obsession with the skin color of Mexicans and other races. Be a smelly racist but dont be upset when someone calls you what you are, a lame smelly racist who eats his own poo.

  119. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:24 pm  

    Yes you are right Rumbold I will leave it to you to defeat this racist who hates Mexicans. What a sorry ass racist so pathetic hahaha I bet he has a tiny penis too, stupid racist. Over to you.

  120. soru — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:27 pm  

    This is IDENTITY POLITICS.

    Did you kick a man down a well as you said that?

    I’d agree identity politics is like razor cuddles – two things, good in isolation, that don’t work all that well together.

    But could you maybe be a bit less of a twat about saying so, though?

  121. Don — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:28 pm  

    Amir,

    ‘Illegal’ is an adjective. Let us at least not abuse the language. It is not a noun. Get that straight.

    With #107 you have reduced your argument to pigmentation.

    ‘Redneck? Yes’ Actually, no. Not a redneck by any generally accepted definition of the term; that would involve making allowances for ignorance, lack of intelligence and unfamiliarity of the wider world. None of which apply to you.

    Racist? Read #107 again, a couple of times.

    You’re citing Buchanan as an authority; you used to be able to argue. OK, you used to cheat, but at least it was worth engaging with. Now you just rant and abuse and fling out second-hand paranoid bullshit.

  122. Juanita — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:29 pm  

    Amir que usted huele y que tiene un pene pequeño. Ése es porqué usted odia el mexicano y es racist. Espero que un cocodrilo le coma usted el mono gordo que huele del excremento :-)

  123. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:30 pm  

    Lithcol,

    Laws? Laws can’t stop segregation or mutual hostility – don’t be so naive. I frequently get abused by FUBU-wearing, hoodie-sporting, Yardie-boy wannabes.

    Laws don’t do anything.

    Identity politics will only get worse in this country, especially as immigration continues unabated.

    At least I’m trying to offer a resistance against the left-wing consensus. No one else on the blogosphere has the guts to do so.

    “Diversity” is fine-and-dandy for middle-class cunts with lots of money and a nice house in the green suburbs, but for the likes of me and my family, it’s a pretty alientating experience.

  124. Sid — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:33 pm  

    Rather, it is based on a neo-Nazi, blood-and-soil conception of politics and human genetics

    The same studies of “human genetics” that was a “breath of fresh air” to you last week are now neo-Nazi concepts? Heh! Following the universal arse-kicking you got after your Steven Sailer evangelism, who said blogs don’t have the power to turn people?

    No. He was born and raised in India (I think)

    Actually Sunny wasn’t. But William Makepeace Thackeray, Bob Woollmer and Rudyard Kipling were. But of course, they were white, right?

  125. Rumbold — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:36 pm  

    I am extremly interested in your name, Amir. Please enlighten me.

  126. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:38 pm  

    Don,

    “With #107 you have reduced your argument to pigmentation.”

    They reduce it to pigmentation. Isn’t that the whole point of this thread? Genetic guilt? The reason why race is such an issue with me is because it is such an issue with other people. Blacks are obsessed with blackness. Browns are obsessed with brownness. And they use it to promote division and exclusivity.

    Stop being so naive. All of you.

    I mean,…do you think it’s a fucking coincidence or something that the BNP are gaining more and more supporters?

    You people are so naïve about human nature.

  127. Cisoux — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:41 pm  

    They reduce it to pigmentation

    Who is ‘they? The demons floating around in your head? Vague darkies taunting you from behind the computer screen?

    Isn’t that the whole point of this thread? Genetic guilt?

    Don’t be stupid. Nobody anywhere has said anything about ‘genetic guilt’. That seems to be your own racialised paranoia and obsessions.

  128. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:48 pm  

    Cisoux,

    “Who is ‘they? The demons floating around in your head? Vague darkies taunting you from behind the computer screen?”

    You have no fucking idea do you? Come down to the street and see it for yourself. Racism is alive and well. Identity politics is so, so rancid in the poorer parts of London. It’s horrible. I hate it.

  129. Amir — on 28th March, 2007 at 11:58 pm  

    I’ve opened a Pandora’s Box.

    For once, I’m gonna back down.

    I have no desire to debate about identity anymore.

    And no: I don’t mind being hated. I’d rather be honest about my own feelings than pander to a consensus. That’s how I see London. It’s one of the most expensive, unequal, elitist and fragmented places I’ve ever lived in. I hate it. I don’t mind some multiculturalism, but it’s gone way, way, too far – there’s no trust or fraternity on the streets. There’s too much crime. There’s too much fear when it gets dark. It’s polluted, overcrowded, racially divided. I could go on.

    Call me “racist”, yada yada yada. There’s no point having a debate with left-wingers anyways. Oliver Kamm was right about blogging.

  130. Amir — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:04 am  

    Leon was right. :-)

    I do stink up the threads. ;-)

    So I’m going to retire. Hang up my boots. Stop sulking. And get on with my work. Blogging is such a pointless and puerile experience. It’s destroyed my faith in Jurgen Habermas. Ha, ha.

  131. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:05 am  

    Amir – shut up please? No one gives a fuck about your ‘oh look I’m white and I’m opressed victim card’. You trot it out every time like a broken record. You scream victimhood everytime you type a message and you constantly accuse others of it.

    And now you keep infecting and de-railing my threads with your pseudo-intellectual racist garbage eveytime. Everytime.

    Anyway, I’m not gonna bother engaging with any of your arguments. They’re crap as uusual.

    Soru, you say:
    I can’t help but see a bit of inconsistency with some of Sunny’s other views if he explicitly prefers a war to end an injustice, presumably because a peaceful solution is insufficently rad, or whatever.

    Can you explain this further? I’ve not said anywhere, if I remember correctly, that I’m against using a bit of force in foreign incidents. I’m not against foreign internvention, as long as its planned correctly, with a proper timetable and with clear goals and more transparency. I don’t believe the USA did that in Iraq qhich is why I was against it. I wasn’t against intervention in Afghanistan.

  132. lithcol — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:20 am  

    Amir,
    You misconstrued what I said. Laws do work if they are enforced effectively. We live by laws. Laws make civilization possible. Your problems stem from the fact that laws are ignored by some and the authorities don’t enforce them rigorously enough.
    A major problem is that there is too much paranoia about upsetting people because of their racial or ethnic origins. One result of this was the spread of so called Yardie gun violence. It could and should have been nipped in the bud. The people who suffered the most were the hardworking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, generation Afro Caribbean’s.

    If you break the law then expect to be arrested and punished accordingly. If at any one time a disproportionate number of members of a particular ethnic or racial group are arrested and convicted that is just a reflection of reality. If they are doing the crime then they should be doing the time.

  133. Amir — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:27 am  

    Sunny,

    [one more comment]

    I don’t claim to be a “victim.” These are just some random impressions and experiences of mine. They have a massive influence on my political beliefs and on my total rejection of mass immigration. [Limited immigration is fine.]

    The real victims are the elderly men and women who’re too frightened to go out at night; the conscientious kids who get bullied at school by thuggish underachievers; the striving patriots who get mugged or heckled by hardened criminals; or the hardworking men and women who can’t get a council house because it’s reserved for migrants. These are the real victims.

    By the way, I think you’re a toffy-nosed twat who hasn’t done a proper day’s work in his life. A privileged, uppity little popinjay with no sense of honour or humility. You hate this country (the Wilberforce comment is instructive). And you have no concern whatsoever for the lives of ordinary working-class people.

    As far as I can tell, your job involves wanking off to other like-minded journalists and hob-knobbing at cocktail parties with all your elitist chums. It’s people like you that make me sick. The MSM is poison. It’s completely detached from the lives and opinions of ordinary people.

    Maybe if I had a different postcode, my views would be different….? Haha! Probably.

  134. Chris Stiles — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:39 am  

    (1) “Rather, it is based on a neo-Nazi, blood-and-soil conception of politics and human genetics”

    (2) “For it strengthens my case against mass immigration and the inevitable Balkanisation of Great Britain.”

    There’s no contradiction. Blut und Boden is a racist ideology. “Balkanisation” is a sociological description.

    Balkanisation is a sociological description, but it doesn’t self define as inevitable, that has to come from elsewhere:

    The new influxes, chiefly Muslim here and Mexican in America, are totally different from early waves of immigrants

    Anything that isn’t genetic is subject to change on human time scales – and unless you are back to your first premise there is no reason why this isn’t true of Mexicans and Muslims.

    In the American case, the Mexican wave seems to resemble that of the Irish most closely – ironically so, as I presume Buchanan ideological forebears would have railed against his genetic forebears in similiar terms. In time, no doubt their Roman Catholicism bred conservatism will lead them to become stalwarts of the conservative party of the day, and we will hear no more about the ‘Reconquista’ – a Mexican immigrant is about the last person who wants the US to turn into Mexico.

    The Muslim case is slightly different, but only a very small minority is actually close to endorsing the sorts of extremism that so frightens you. Odious cultural practices will die in time – something we can hasten with appropriate legal measures.

    Incidentally, I find it amusing that the thrust of the second part of #103 seems to be “In this land of William Shakespear, how dare they make me apologise!”. Kulvinder’s approach makes a lot more rational sense.

    Idiots from Ligali aside, the majority of ‘browns’ and ‘blacks’ just want to be left alone to become comfortably middle class. The phenomanae of the Kapoors and Rabindranaths who want to be the Coopers and Robinsons is far more widespread than one might suspect. The burghers of Chingford tend to make a lot less noise, y’see.

  135. Don — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:50 am  

    Nobody hates you, Amir. Some are pissed off, but nobody hates you. Except maybe Juanita.

  136. Chris Stiles — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:54 am  

    I assumed Juanita was his flatmate .. :D

  137. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:54 am  

    Obviously the accurate translation of post 125 will be left to MEMRI, but here goes:

    “Amir que usted huele y que tiene un pene pequeño”

    “Amir, who used to heave after he’d eaten penne” (translators note: a particularily vile form of pasta that only Italians can cook properly, I’m not surprised he was ill).

    “Ése es porqué usted odia el mexicano y es racist.”

    “It is obviously exclusively runaway pork that you think Mexicans eat.”(clearly a reference to a particularily good Carbonara dish, where pasta and meat are combined, with cream and stuff. It’s yummy. Using organically reared livestock is important).

    “Espero que un cocodrilo le coma usted el mono gordo que huele del excremento”

    “I think an unconcious crocodile would go better with this pile of brown stuff, don’t you?”

    (which is, of course, the fusion influence on global cuisine, although perhaps derogatory to penne, which can come in all sorts of shades apart from brown. And it would be far more civilised to kill the crocodile before we cooked it. Although chacun a son gout as we say in German)

    The translator is pleased to advance global understanding, in his modest way.

  138. soru — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:57 am  

    @sunny: To remind you of what you said:

    Frankly I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about Wilberforce. The real heroes of ridding the world of slavery were the slaves who rebelled and fought back and tried to bring some dignity to their people.

    Now, those people, Toussaint and allies, didn’t have a viable plan, proper timetables or clear goals. What they did really didn’t work in any simple cost-benifit sense. Their war was deeply tied up with the ongoing strategic conflict between Britain and France, with them taking military aid from both at different times. And, arguably, even in victory they fucked up their country in a way it has yet to recover from over 200 years later.

    But I can’t say with a clear conscience they were wrong to do so.

    Also: couldn’t give a rat’s arse

    Someone asked if Sunny was a brit or not. I assume that quote settles that question?

  139. Sid — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:58 am  

    There’s a soru hindi-movie screenplay there somewhere.

  140. lithcol — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:12 am  

    The posts are getting surreal.
    But at last the posts are back on track.
    Sunny should of course give a rat’s arse. Social change as he is well aware needs people with power and influence to stick their heads above the parapet.

  141. emmanuelgoldstein — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:12 am  

    Soru,

    didn’t have a viable plan, proper timetables or clear goals. What they did really didn’t work in any simple cost-benifit sense.

    (1) Toussaint seems to have had one; he wanted to keep the plantations going with free (well, non-slave) labour. I think this is in Black Jacobins.

    (2) Cost-benefit isn’t the right criterion (deontologist alert!); even if it were, the choice of now as the time at which the analysis should be run looks arbitrary.

  142. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:14 am  

    soru,

    I’d never heard of the guy until Jagdeep mentioned him.

    But he is a hero. And he died in a French prison. What more do you want? This is Braveheart with better locations, dusky maidens and galleons.

  143. Amir — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:20 am  

    Don,

    “Nobody hates you, Amir. Some are pissed off, but nobody hates you. Except maybe Juanita.”

    Listen, I don’t care if people hate me. I have a thick skin. But one thing still puzzles me: I’ve made a string of controversial remarks about Islam on previous threads, and yet NO Moslems have ever given me grief. Why is that? NO Moslem has ever referred to me “Islamophobic.” (Except for Anas maybe.)

    Yet the minute I start talking about race and/or identity politics… I get the Desi Mafia on my arse. Ya know, this is fucking free country. Race is an important issue. Population is an important issue. Immigration is an important issue. Tough issues require tough talking. It’s uncomfortable to talk about – yes. I know it’s uncomfortable to talk about. But, ya know, the human species is remarkable in its capacity to cause unnecessary problems. Let’s just chill out about it, and try to debunk one another’s arguments… like Chris Stiles.

    P.S. Juanita is the sort of girl who always ends up in my bed. ;-)

  144. soru — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:24 am  

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0785063/

    Don Cheadle … Toussaint Louverture
    Jonathan Rhys Meyers
    Chiwetel Ejiofor
    Angela Bassett … Suzanne Louverture
    Mos Def
    Isaach De Bankolé
    Roger Guenveur Smith
    Richard Bohringer
    Patrick Rameau

    That’s a pretty hot cast. Hope its a good movie.

    (do I get paid for hyping stuff like this?)

  145. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:29 am  

    emmanuelgoldstien,

    Welcome. Are you, perhaps, the same emmanuelgoldstien who was posting on CiF recently? Were you the chap that speculated that there might be a case in law against the UK government for slavery? Or am I mixing you up with someone else entirely?

  146. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:35 am  

    P.S. Juanita is the sort of girl who always ends up in my bed.

    What at 1:20 in the morning!

  147. lithcol — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:37 am  

    Off message again. Off to bed and definately not with Juanita. Too exotic for my tastes.

  148. emmanuelgoldstein — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:40 am  

    douglas clark

    Yes, I’m the same one. I wasn’t claiming that there was a case, so much as trying to rebut the argument that no-one now alive could apologise.

  149. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:52 am  

    emmanuelgoldstein

    Then I have done you a disservice. I read your stuff as an attempt to create a John Grisham style tort case. If that was not how you meant it, I owe you an apology.

    So.

    Sorry.

  150. Amir — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:02 am  

    Chris Stiles,

    That’s an interesting response. So let me respond:

    (1) “Anything that isn’t genetic is subject to change on human time scales.”

    Strictly speaking, that’s not true. Genetics do change over time (albeit very slowly). And there are practical measures in which we can reduce the IQ gap between races. For example, in most developing countries today, iron deficiency is now estimated to be preventing 40% to 60% of Third World children from growing to their mental potential. In various tests of cognitive and psycho-motor skills, for example, lack of iron has been found to be associated with significant levels of disadvantage – affecting IQ scores by as much as 5 to 7 points. The solution to this is fairly simple: fortify the salt with iodine and the flour with iron and other micronutrients. In a few decades… the IQ gap closes.

    (2) “In the American case, the Mexican wave seems to resemble that of the Irish most closely – ironically so.”

    That’s a bad comparison. The presence in the United States of a vast Diaspora that retains its emotional and blood ties to Mexico provides Mexico City with immense leverage to advance an agenda that entails the steady diminution of US sovereignty and economic and political merger of the United States with Mexico, where anti-Americanism is rife and the Aztlan project has ecumenical support. There are almost as many immigrants and their children in the United States in 2006 – 36 million – as all the immigrants who came in 350 previous years of American history.

    (3) “Odious cultural practices will die in time – something we can hasten with appropriate legal measures.”

    You assume that assimilation is inevitable, like osmosis. As an empiricist, I reject teleology outright. There is no Law of Inevitable Historical Process. That’s a left-wing fallacy. And it is poisoning progressive thought A conservative, like myself, is a lot more wary of mass immigration and its supposed “benefits”. Steve Sailer’s thought-provoking essay on the rise and fall of Lebanon is a precautionary tale. I recommend, also, another essay of his entitled: Why Multiculturalism and Democracy don’t mix (Balkans case study).

    (4) “The phenomanae of the Kapoors and Rabindranaths who want to be the Coopers and Robinsons is far more widespread than one might suspect.”

    That’s fucking funny! I love Goodness Gracious Me. But the thing is, I’m not middle-class and I don’t live in a middle-class Asian suburb. Ever read or watched an adaptation of Educating Rita? Well, that’s me, ya see.

    Amir

  151. Amir — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:04 am  

    Okay Sunny,

    I take back what I said. I was slightly harsh on you.

    But please, for fucks sakes, respond to my points. You can call me a “cunt” is you want. I don’t mind. But just respond to a few of my points. For the love of Christ.

  152. Leon — on 29th March, 2007 at 10:04 am  

    Leon was right.

    I do stink up the threads.

    Yep. Now, be a good chap and do fuck off.

  153. Arif — on 29th March, 2007 at 10:30 am  

    Amir, I know you don’t want to be liked, but you also seem to be exasperated that people focus on what they perceive your agenda to be, and not on what you are arguing. I think part of the reason is that people don’t like the framework from which you are arguing and do not have the energy to deconstruct it, and therefore see more costs than benefits from Habermassian dialogue with you. Another part is that things you write (and the way you write them) make people angry.

    So putting that aside, you also feel a sympathy for the (indigenous/white?) poor, the isolated, the homeless, the elderly and so on, who you perceive to be in competition for resources with recent immigrants, or prey upon by a significant proportions of recent immigrants. There are other ways to perceive things, and, if you still want dialogue, I guess you will be open to other people’s perceptions.

    First perception: Sympathy for one set of people does not preclude sympathy for other sets of people. Immigrants too have their stories, their sufferings and their fears.

    Second perception: If there is competition between social groups which take a negative dynamic, then our first responsibility need not be to take part in the competition on behalf of one side or another, but we could (after pointing out the dynamic) find ways in which it could be replaced by more co-operative dynamics.

    On the issue of IQ:

    First perception: I am not preoccupied with the IQ of people around me and see no reason to be. I still need to understand its precise relevance to any discussion. Are you suggesting it has any relevance to public policy? Are you suggesting group differences in IQ should be a basis for differential treatment of groups? If not, please be clear why it is of relevance and importance to you.

    Second perception: If I (and lots of experts in the field) are not persuaded by Murray’s Bell Curve, not sharing a number of his assumptions, this should not be a matter of great importance, unless there is some important political point at stake. Is there one – if so is it that we should focus on nutritional needs of poor people (as suggested above) or so that we can justify some forms of discrimination on the basis of social group IQ?

    On the issue of slavery.

    First perception: It is not an argument of blood and soil which has been made on this thread, so much as an argument of cultural identity. If national institutions exist which make part of their purpose or legitimation that they have a particular history, then it is fair to try to understand and question their readings of history. If those institutions wish to regulate our behaviour and identities to conform to their norms, then it is at least fair to question whether they also conform to any norms. If they are found wanting by their own standards, there is an appearance of hypocrisy which is particularly sinister given their power and influence. So it is understandable to me that people want to question the genuineness of opposition to slavery of those institutions to which we are subject, which in the past have supported slavery, and when abolishing it compensated the slaveholders and not the slaves (as the BBC has taught us).

    Second perception: If these institutions can show a genuine commitment to righting the wrongs they have previously been involved in, that gives them the credibility to campaign on my behalf, or with my support, to eliminate slavery by other institutions elsewhere.

    Third perception: To focus on contemporary slavery by others is laudable. It becomes suspicious if it is used to deflect attention in a discussion about historical slavery by those institutions which claim to be our own. It is possible to care about contemporary slavery and still question how past slavery is presented and consider what institutions which abolish slavery might still need to do in order to be rehabilitated. This would be relevant experience to draw on following any successes we might have in eliminating contemporary slavery. So the two preoccupations go together in my perception.

  154. Arif — on 29th March, 2007 at 10:32 am  

    * second paragraph: should have been “preyed upon”, not “prey upon”

  155. Pariah — on 29th March, 2007 at 10:47 am  

    Ok so what happens after the white guy apologises?

    then what?

    reparations?

    then what?

    will they be happy then? will they have forgiven the bad white man?

    or will they find another reason to blame them for their own shortcomings?

    at some point you simply have to take responsibility for yourself

  156. The Dude — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:02 am  

    Why don’t we just have a “for and against Amir” thread and get on with it. I come to this forum because it has a WIDE body of opinion. The moment this situation changes, I go about my business. I can’t do this with the BBC,ITV,CH4,CH5 (as the run-up to the Iraq invasion proved) apart from turning off the TV altogether. But let’s stick with the issue of the BBC for the time being. IMHO the BBC as failed repeatedly to meet it’s public service remit, given the fact that today, it’s public, have many faces which are simply not replicated within the BBC’s personnel. This is reflected in it’s output, which is mono-culture both in nature and content. Worse still it NEVER challenges the official version in REAL TIME. A point in case is it’s ongoing reporting of the Iran/Royal Navy kidnapping. Unless the Iranian Navy are operating stealth boats invisible to radar.

  157. The Dude — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    Sorry I posted this on the wrong thread. The Dude.

  158. The Dude — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:05 am  

    Pariah

    Don’t do the crime if the can’t do the time.

  159. Pariah — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:19 am  

    Dude, that’s fair enough

    But you shouldn’t really do time for someone else’s crime

    If your great grandfather killed his next door neighbour and the police just found out about it, would you be ok being tried for the murder he committed?

  160. douglas clark — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:19 am  

    Amir,

    There is probably no-one here that would argue against the fact that starvation in childhood is likely to effect physical and mental development. That would seem to be self evident although, if you need it, there are numerous scientific studies to back it up. What the scientists you quote are arguing is that the gap can be closed, that it is a result of the nurture, rather than the nature. You have argued that it is inherent, which is not true. I have pointed out in earlier posts that education, specifically in how to do them, can run a coach and horses through the validity of IQ tests as a measure of anything meaningful whatsoever. This does not suit you, and it does not suit the Steve Sailers of this world who are looking for incontrovertable evidence of racial difference. So, what is your agenda?

  161. bananabrain — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

    generally, i like amir’s input, although i am one of those middle-class people who is in the process of buying a house in the suburbs with a garden that he seems to dislike so much. i should point out, though, that my mum arrived here on a boat with her family in 1955 and although my dad was born in hampshire, neither of his parents were “english” as it is conventionally understood – both my parents left school at 16 with no qualifications and insofar as they are now middle-class, they are new to it, although i had the benefit of growing up like that – both wealth and debts that unlike kulvinder, i am happy to accept.

    someone on the today programme the other morning characterised the BNP as “a rather unpleasant housing pressure group” and i thought that was quite perceptive. certainly if people have nowhere to live (and that extends at least as far up the socioeconomic ladder as myself) then things get kind of ugly.

    on the other hand i have to say that i really do think there is a problem with race in this country and it goes both ways. seems to me nobody white can talk about being white without someone “progressive” worrying that they might be a BNP-er in disguise and, although i agree the way amir argues tends to put people’s backs up, as far as i am aware he has demonstrated his antipathy to racism consistently and strongly. the hypocrisy of the lee jaspers of the world disgust me, but then i expect nothing better from someone whose wagon is hitched to livingstone’s odious star. i never hear him speak without it raising my hackles – part of it’s the way he refers to anyone he considers an ethnic minority as “black”, even if they’re brown. it’s a typical lefty over-simplification.

    as far as the evils being committed by black, brown, beige and polkadot tyrants all over the world, they are undoubtedly less pleasant than what ethnic minorities in the UK have to put up with. give me a choice between dealing with mugabe’s secret police and the met and i know where i’d take my chances. the trouble is (and you’ll forgive me for indulging in counselling-speak) that the fact that someone else’s trouble is worse than mine doesn’t mean mine doesn’t cause me pain. by the same token, one cannot be expected to agree, because of cultural relativism, that unpleasant practices from abroad are somehow less comparatively bad than they would be if they happened to us. the trouble is that actually that feels like exactly the line the bbc, for example, seems to push. you only have to look at how we demonise white peasants in this country whilst idolising brown and black ones abroad to see that there’s bound to be a bit of an issue with this when the aforementioned white peasants need political representation and participation in the national discourse. i say let’s let free speech and the battle of ideas prevail. in the same way that i suggest that sensible, moderate religion has nothing to lose from a level playing field, sensible, moderate politics is likewise.

    juanita: you are adding absolutely nothing to this debate. if i want amir insulted i can do it myself. kindly grow up and address the argument or sling your hook.

    amir: i would be very, very careful of taking buchanan as an authority on anything at all, in the same way i would be very, very careful of harold pinter. i guess what soru said at #123.

    everyone else: perhaps if you were less quick to dismiss amir’s feeling of victimisation he might be a little less hysterical about insisting on it. as it is, you’re actually making his point as far as i can see. stop asking him what his agenda is, because it ought to be obvious that it is to point out that there are problems with the multicultural orthodoxy of the jaspers of this world.

    as for toussaint l’ouverture, the conga solo is way too long. give me “earth’s cry heaven’s smile” any time.

    and IQ is bunk, too. and so is inevitable historical process. although, obviously i have my own religious teleology to consider – as indeed, does amir.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  162. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    Now, those people, Toussaint and allies, didn’t have a viable plan, proper timetables or clear goals.

    Soru, my point was more that I’m unfussed about Wilberforce’s achievements at this stage. He should be appreciated as part of the bigger picture, but the real heroes are the ones who gave up their lives to fight against injustice and to highlight what was going on.

    The ‘commemorations’ over the past few days/weeks have been more akin to celebrating Lord Mountbatten rather than Mahatma Gandhi, Shaheed Bhagat Singh etc for the indepedence of India/Pakistan.

    Actually, you know, no one has really asked for an apology for the British ruling over India for 150 years have they? And that only finished 60 years ago… the snniversary is coming up in August.

    Maybe the British state could apologise for that? I’d like to see then people come up with the excuse that it was too long ago for them to make any apology for it.

    And can we please ignore Amir… I’m sick of his constant ‘genetic racial differences’ agenda dressed up ‘I’m an oppressed working class white man victim card’ rubbish, and how it’s beginning to ruin every thread. I’m now verging on banning him completely.

  163. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:24 pm  

    as far as the evils being committed by black, brown, beige and polkadot tyrants all over the world, they are undoubtedly less pleasant than what ethnic minorities in the UK have to put up with

    And this argument is rather silly too actually. Yes, the UK is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. But that doesn’t mean that ethnic minorities don’t end up facing limitations to how far they’re allowed to go, generally (a few exceptions allowed) in this country just because they are brown/black/yellow/polka dot.
    So while I do care for white working class poverty, I get the impression that Amir isn’t really in that category and rather likes to whine just because no one is taking his ‘the mussies are coming here and taking over‘ bullshit that seriously. Being hysterical is not an excuse.

  164. Juanita — on 29th March, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Juanita is the sort of girl who always ends up in my bed

    I sleep with sexy men not inadequate bigots and racists: dream on small penis man.

    kindly grow up and address the argument or sling your hook

    Kindly shut the fut up and don’t tell me what to do or say after giving a speech about freedom of speech you stupid hypocrite. Now you seem to be the real kind of person that ends up in that stupid racist Amirs bed.

    goce de su sexo usted par de homosexuales con el pene pequeño :-)

  165. Sid Love — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:09 pm  

    I used to know a Juanita.
    hmmmmmmmmm :-D

  166. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    Ok Juanita, enough of the swearing now. let’s stick to intelligent discussion now please or I will have to ban you.

  167. Sid Love — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    as far as the evils being committed by black, brown, beige and polkadot tyrants all over the world, they are undoubtedly less pleasant than what ethnic minorities in the UK have to put up with. give me a choice between dealing with mugabe’s secret police and the met and i know where i’d take my chances.

    Is that because police violence against black kids is supposedly nowhere near as vicious as it once was or doesn’t make the news anymore or isn’t as fashionably right-on as bewailing Mugabe’s crimes? I remember Coventry in the 80s, and seeing black kids being picked up off the streets, taken into Black Marias and beaten up for sweet fuck all. Or teachers refusing to teach smart black kids in schools before exams because they were too “lippy”. Mates still tell me it’s as bad as it was but simply doesn’t trouble the radar. Does comparing Mugabe’s crimes to what people have had to put up with here make it any better?

  168. soru — on 29th March, 2007 at 1:58 pm  

    The ‘commemorations’ over the past few days/weeks have been more akin to celebrating Lord Mountbatten rather than Mahatma Gandhi, Shaheed Bhagat Singh etc for the indepedence of India/Pakistan..

    That seems a pretty silly statement. Wilberforce wasn’t an administrator appointed with the task of sorting out the details of ending slavery, paying compensation and so on. He was a campaigner, relying on moral force and persuasion, directly analogous to Gandhi. In fact Gandhi regarded his campaign as something of a model for what he was trying to do:

    Gandhi sent a message on the centenary of the abolition of slavery for the international celebration that was fixed for July 29, 1933 in Hull, England. This was Wilberforce’s native town. (CWMG, Vol 55, p.317). In his message Gandhi said: “India has much to learn from the heroes of the abolition of slavery for we have slavery based upon supposed religious sanction and more poisonous than its Western fellow.” He compared the abolition of slavery with the abolition of untouchability. (CWMG, Vol 56, pp 88-90).

    Note that Gandhi wasn’t an untouchable any more than Wilberforce was a slave: it they had been, they wouldn’t have been in a position to do what they did.

    The film of Gandhi has been made, the Touusaint film is coming, I am sure there will be a Mandela biopic sometime. It doesn’t seem that wrong to have one little small-budget film about Wilberforce to go alongside them.

  169. Chris Stiles — on 29th March, 2007 at 2:01 pm  

    Strictly speaking, that’s not true. Genetics do change over time (albeit very slowly).

    Quite. What was it about ‘human time scales’ that was unclear ?

    You assume that assimilation is inevitable, like osmosis.

    I’m not buying into any notion of historical inevitability. Empirically speaking people are integrating, slowly in some cases, but in general most people are becoming more integrated over time.

    I’d engage with your vdare links, but this is neither the time nor the topic. I suspect you’d get more responses if you didn’t adopt the debating style of Macavity – disappearing over the horizon as soon as some other topic provides grist for your particular agenda.

    Oh, and two people doesn’t constitute a ‘Desi Mafia’ – unless you have a particularly acute persecution complex.

  170. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    Soru, a direct comparison is silly, I agree. My point is though that there is more emphasis being paid to the ‘white liberators’ than the ‘black freedom fighters’ on this bicentenary.

    Wilberforce has his own place in history. But I can’t bring myself to recognise him over the black slaves who actually fought and died trying to fight against their oppression.

    On the subject of untouchability though… while Gandhi did try his best, I think he was ultimately quite naive on that topic. He was better suited to just Indian freedom.

    A better example of a fighter for untouchables would be Dr Ambedkar, who led a million of them to renounce Hinduism and embrace Buddhism and dedicated his life to Dalit empowerment. Gandhi was a bit of a silly fatalist. One only has to look at the stupid advice he gave to the Jews or the way he ignored Sikh concerns.

  171. bananabrain — on 29th March, 2007 at 2:30 pm  

    But that doesn’t mean that ethnic minorities don’t end up facing limitations to how far they’re allowed to go, generally (a few exceptions allowed) in this country just because they are brown / black / yellow / polka dot.

    surely you could say the same thing about women and, indeed, peasants, or even jews. all i am saying is have a sense of perspective – nobody ignores racism in this country nowadays and i am not minimising the problems caused, goodness knows i suffer from enough of them myself. i think that by dismissing it out of hand, you do yourself a disservice. i know amir gets up your nose but please do try and accept that there are some serious arguments here which must be addressed, otherwise free speech is impaired. and on that subject:

    juanita, if you can’t discuss things without swearing and personal remarks, i’m not talking to you. freedom of speech involves my freedom not to put up with immature, abusive, pathetic keyboard warriors. so far, amir has displayed far more intelligence and maturity than you have. get over yourself – you’re not making any friends here. let your arguments speak, not your rhetoric.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  172. Rumbold — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    Sunny: You said that Wilberforce “should be appreciated as part of the bigger picture”. That is not what you said at all the first time.

    Some of the slave revolts hampered the anti-slavers’ cause, because people began to fear that an end to slavery would lead to anarchy. Not that the rebelling slaves were not brave people, but the end of the British slave trade was ultimately brought about by white Britains. It is not insulting to the memory of slaves to point that out.

    Britain should not apologize for ruling over India; we got our first piece of territory thanks to the local ruler (Madras being granted to the British by imperial firman). Bombay and Calcutta were built up from virtually nothing. Most of the territory was acquired in wars against French-backed local powers. I am not trying to get into a “was the British empire good or bad on balance” debate. I merely wish to point out that the British did not suddenly turn up and conquer India.

    If the British are expected to apologize, I want apologies from Chandra Bose fans for his backing of the Japanese, and Bhagat Singh fans for his murdering of policemen. Or perhaps it is just better to learn lessons from history and try and move on.

  173. Chris Stiles — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:26 pm  

    Soru, a direct comparison is silly, I agree. My point is though that there is more emphasis being paid to the ‘white liberators’ than the ‘black freedom fighters’ on this bicentenary.

    But this bicentenary is being linked to a specific event that directly has more to do with the former than the latter.

    There’s nothing stopping people putting together their own commemorations of other events like the Liberation of Haiti or the Revolt of Jamaica.

  174. Sunny — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    surely you could say the same thing about women and, indeed, peasants, or even jews.

    And I do say it. Doesn’t negate the earlier point though does it? We do need to keep agitating for greatre equality… that is not a struggle which is over yet, or can be ignored just because brown people have it worse under Mugabe etc./

    Rumbold:
    That is not what you said at all the first time.
    Yeah well, sometimes I use throw-away language.

    Some of the slave revolts hampered the anti-slavers’ cause, because people began to fear that an end to slavery would lead to anarchy.

    That is more to do with having fear of giving blacks freedom anyway, that they would start being criminals if not constrained by their masters. The fact that some revolts ‘hampered’, as you call it, the cause is irrelevant to be honest. They had a right to agitate, not sit tight just because white racists could then paint them as potential criminals.

    Most of the territory was acquired in wars against French-backed local powers.

    No it wasn’t. The French had a marginal part to play. Most of the territories were held by Indian rulers, including the final piece of territory that the British acquired from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. So your version is history is frankly bollocks.

    Chris: But this bicentenary is being linked to a specific event that directly has more to do with the former than the latter.

    Yes, and that in itself is the problem. Sure, it makes sense to have it around that piece of legislation, but doesn’t mean you then focus only on white goodies.

  175. Chairwoman — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:44 pm  

    If the dissent this topic has caused is typical, then this the apology seems to have done absolutely no good whatsoever.

    Perhaps a small ceremony to commemorate a good and progressive man would have done more good.

  176. Rumbold — on 29th March, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

    Sunny, I was not commenting on the slaves’ right to rebel, nor the justness of their grievances (both of which I fully support). I was just pointing out that it was men like Wilberforce who had a bigger impact.

    “The French had a marginal part to play [In India].”
    The largest swathes of territory were acquired under the Wellesley brothers, who were fighting against the French-backed Tipu Sultan and subsequently the French-backed Maratha Confederation. I did not say that the French actually controlled the territories.

    “So your version is history is frankly bollocks”. That put me in my place.

  177. Soso — on 29th March, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    The slave trade is thriving. In fact, there are probably more slaves in 2007 than there were in 1807.

    There was a PBS documentary on Africa, narrated by a Black Studies prof( Harvard), that was broadcast a few years back.

    At one point, when he was visitng the Sahel he came upon ageing black labourers carrying sacks of produce weighing at least twice their body weight.

    In the background, one could see their “master”, undoubtedly a Sudanese Arab

    So what did the good prof do upon comming face to face with a concrete example of Black slavery?

    Why, he expressed his shock and dismay, and then turned around and walked off……

    A man, an academic, most of whose course material is one long whine centered on slavery and slavery’s legacy just walked away when confronted with the real thing.

    Europeans were the very last to traffic in slaves and they were the very first to put an end to the practice, yet it is they who are on the recieving end of all the invective.

    I read, as well, about the slave commemorations that took place in Jamaica.

    Jamaica, lately, is no really no longer in a position to complain.

    Desperately poor Haitian boat-people, many near death, who frequently wash up on Jamaica’s shores are routinely turned back out to sea, are given no provisions and are subsequently left to die.

    Contrast this with the Haitian boat-people who wash ashore in Florida. Here the U.S. is ALWAYS accused of racism for sending them back, but at least when they do so the Haitians in question have new clothes, fresh water, a full stomach, are in good health and are in a safe and comfortable boat.

    Black Studies professors sporting specialisations in slavery, who couldn’t care less, and who just walk away when the *master* is Arab freeze my blood

    And righteous Jamacians, who denounce the mistreatment and abuse Blacks underwent on slave ships, but who will gleefully turn back fellow blacks and let them die at sea, are just pious hypocrites.

    It appears, then, that unless the slavery in question affords the opportunity to take a jab at “whitey”, then that slavery is but a mere detail.

    The Arabs were taking slaves out of Africa long before Christian Europe was even organised, and they continue to do so TO THIS DAY with impunity.

    The Ottomans, too, took millions of slaves from the Balkans and made a great deal of money from the trade, but have never apologised or even fessed up to the practice.

    Yes, slavery commemorations are a farce, Sunny, but NOT for the reasons you cite.

  178. bananabrain — on 29th March, 2007 at 4:17 pm  

    And I do say it. Doesn’t negate the earlier point though does it? We do need to keep agitating for greater equality… that is not a struggle which is over yet, or can be ignored just because brown people have it worse under Mugabe etc.

    i know you do say it – but there are plenty of people who object when anyone jewish talks about anti-semitism to such a point where we actually don’t talk about it in case anyone starts accusing us of harping on about it and emotional guilt, what about the palestinians and so on… i’m just saying it cuts both ways and some of the comments here are frankly very dismissive of the problems of the white underclass.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  179. Twining or Black in Blue — on 29th March, 2007 at 5:52 pm  

    £15 billion was given to compensqate slave owners upon the abolotition of slavery; nothing was given to the slaves themselves.

  180. Twining or Black in Blue — on 29th March, 2007 at 5:57 pm  

    Sunny are you a mind reader? “We do need to keep agitating for greatre equality… that is not a struggle which is over yet. We are agitating lots, but those in power simply subdue the agitators, describing us as loose cannons, radicals, etc. And this is in the police service.

    Not only are we subdued by White people in power but a few Liberal entrusted Black and Brown people who to all intents and purposes behave White, (acquisce), who sell us out too.

  181. Vikrant — on 29th March, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    One only has to look at the stupid advice he gave to the Jews or the way he ignored Sikh concerns.

    While i agree that Gandhi was an overrated fatalist idiot, i’m just curious about Gandhi-ignoring-the-Sikh-concerns-part …

  182. jaycon — on 29th March, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    It was certainly not a “few” Arabs or a “few” Africans. The Arab slave trade in Africa and Europe went on for millenia not mere centuries. It’s about time they apologised.

  183. emmanuelgoldstein — on 29th March, 2007 at 7:19 pm  

    The Arab slave trade in Africa and Europe went on for millenia not mere centuries.

    Unfortunately, this is irrelevant to the matter of an apology. An apology is owed if a harm has been freely done, regardless of who else did similar harm. Compare: Romania ought to apologise for its treatment of its Jewish population in World War II, even though the Germans did much, much worse.
    In any case, two or more people can, each of them be 100% morally responsible for a single act.

  184. El Cid — on 29th March, 2007 at 7:47 pm  

    Juanita,
    Your Spanish is terrible.

    Having urged PP to raise this debate, I find myself unwilling to participate. I guess I’m somewhere between Pariah and The Dude, which ain’t easy.
    As I told 2 of my very good Jamaican mates yesterday, who were very sympathetic, there’s a lot that is poisonous and artificial about this debate. As a history graduate I am in no doubts that the Atlantic slave trade is one of the greatest crimes of all time, mainly because of the sheer scale of it. And sure it was justified by racism. But it wasn’t a unique example of man’s inhumanity to man and it’s not just a black/white thing. White people are not uniquely evil. I’ve said more than I wanted to.
    I’ll just finish by adding that I’m not prepared to see my white children carry the burden for something that happened 10 generations ago.

  185. Michael — on 29th March, 2007 at 7:59 pm  

    I read some comments above and got tired of reading the utter nonsense some have to say. During the slave trade era, a lot of people stood by and did nothing; just the same way a lot of people stood by and did nothing when Jesus was nailed to the cross.
    Today, Africa is being devastated daily by western backed wars for resources and no one is doing anything about it! The day the African man/woman espouses the true meaning of Pan Africanism is the day Africa becomes free. It’s so glaring it is annoying!!! Years of copying the white-man has gotten us no where…so why not try something different for crying out loud! (Remember the saying about a fool that keeps doing the same thing over and over, and keeps wondering why things keep going wrong?).

  186. ZinZin — on 29th March, 2007 at 8:19 pm  

    “behave White”

    Definition please.

  187. Michael — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:27 pm  

    To ZinZin:
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African leader address the U.N. in a suit.
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African leader address the U.N. in English (What do we have interpreters for?) rather than his mother tongue.
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African school principal include subjects that are of no relevance to Africa (e.g. The COLD War).
    To “behave White” for example is for African Nations to buy into the failing ideology called democracy.

  188. lithcol — on 29th March, 2007 at 11:55 pm  

    Michael,
    A rather odd reply.
    The suit – I have one, for weddings and funerals. Other times I would not be seen dead in one. It does appear a near universal uniform for the ruling class. Don’t know why.

    English – without wishing to appear chauvinistic, it is the lingua franca of internationalism.

    I note that both of the above appear to be freely chosen. And that not every African leader chooses them.
    Cold War – responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in Africa.

    Democracy – a failing ideology? Marxism yes. Tribalism yes. Fascism yes. Democracy, whatever form it takes no.

  189. Chris Stiles — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:23 am  

    Are we all trying to be Millie Tan from Viz now?

  190. Juanita — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:34 am  

    so far, amir has displayed far more intelligence and maturity than you have. get over yourself

    Really bananbrain? Calling people twats and idiots is mature debating in your book? All of which Amir does, being bigoted about Mexicans and others? Then you have the audacity to complain about mature debate and anti-semitism? Sorry, I can’t stand racist bigots and I’ll say what I want to when I want to, you being Amirs bootlicker and a hypocrite is by the by.

  191. Amir — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:20 am  

    Juanita,

    “All of which Amir does, being bigoted about Mexicans and others?”

    Listen, I don’t have a problem with individual Mexicans. There are as many and as few bad eggs in every group of people, whatever their race or ethnic origin. The problem is simply one of numbers. There are too many illegal aliens in the United States, and they’re culturally inward-looking. This, in turn, is creating a lot of social friction, especially with the African-American community.

    Demographic stability is a prerequisite for peace and a prerequisite for liberty. That’s why I oppose mass immigration and anyone who endorses mass immigration.

    It’s the same with British Moslems. On a personal level, I share a lot more in common with Islam than I do with white liberals, atheists, or socialists. (Pakistanis are among the most hospitable and noble people I have ever come across.) Islam is a fighting faith. Its adherents are a proud and ultra-conservative people. I respect that. Moslems deserve respect.

    However, to repeat what I said beforehand: The problem is not individuals. The problem is simply one of numbers. My argument is utilitarian (more than anything else).

    Juanita,

    I’m a very flawed individual and I say some pretty stupid things sometimes. :-( But trust me, mass immigration is NOT a good thing.

  192. Aejaz Zahid — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:33 am  

    This debate is pointless! In my opinion SLAVERY NEVER ENDED. It only changed forms. After so called ‘abolition’, our colonial masters found and instituted ways of keeping people in bonded labour and abject poverty within their own countries and without the need for paying to transport our lot half way across the globe. We now do it of our own accord, only now we have a ‘choice’ between being a slave in our own countries (thanks to institutions such as the WTO) or dodging oppressive immigration laws to work under appalling conditions as ‘illegal’ immigrants.

  193. Chairwoman — on 30th March, 2007 at 10:32 am  

    Juanita – You, young lady, are a real ‘piece of work’ who has nothing to add to a debate, so resorts to personal insults.

    Michael – Get a grip. African men have as much right as anyone else to wear whatever pleases them. Don’t be such a fascist. And as for speaking in English, don’t you think that’s more sensible than to risk being misinterpreted?

  194. bananabrain — on 30th March, 2007 at 10:35 am  

    Really bananabrain? Calling people twats and idiots is mature debating in your book?

    that’s not the only thing he does. he makes some good points sometimes, which is more than you have done in your what is it, 24 hours of posting so far?

    Then you have the audacity to complain about mature debate and anti-semitism?

    what rubbish – i am complaining about you swearing and hurling abuse rather than engaging with the argument which i am more than entitled to do. as for bringing up anti-semitism, it was by way of illustration of a similar problem, which i will restate yet again:

    apparently, white people are not allowed to complain about stuff that seems to happen to them because they’re white. ever.

    apparently, jewish people are not allowed to complain about anti-semitism because they overdo it and turn it into emotional blackmail. always. and here’s the result:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article1563917.ece
    http://education.guardian.co.uk/administration/story/0,,2044841,00.html

    when i see a real problem being swept under the carpet, regardless of whether it is a primary concern of mine or not (and, generally, i have other fish to fry than spending my time worrying about anti-semitism and anti-white prejudice) i feel i ought to say something.

    Sorry, I can’t stand racist bigots

    neither can i. i just don’t consider that amir has been proved to be one. “give a dog a bad name and hang him” is in my book not what i call evidence.

    and I’ll say what I want to when I want to

    of course you will, that’s called free speech. however, you will find that your conversations will be a lot more productive if you stop swearing at people and acting like a bull in a china shop, otherwise you will simply be ignored as a troll, which is how you are acting right now.

    you being Amirs bootlicker and a hypocrite is by the by.

    again with the personal abuse. i am nobody’s bootlicker. i don’t like bullying and it is just as hypocritical to treat one manifestation of a problem more seriously than another. i suggest you go for a nice lie down and ease off the tequila so early in the morning.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  195. Sid Love — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    i’m just saying it cuts both ways and some of the comments here are frankly very dismissive of the problems of the white underclass.

    Which comments here in particular are “very dismissive of the problems of the white underclass”?

  196. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    well a lot of comments here seem to indicate that some conceptions of ‘white people’ as a group or a block are no less monolithic and flawed as those about say ‘muslim people’ or the kinds of monolithic assumptions about ‘race’ that led to racism in the first place. assuming ‘white people’ => automatically powerful individuals is as flawed as black people = automatically –> lazy and stupid individuals.

  197. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:24 am  

    At the expense of sounding like I want to bum Amir (although I’d prefer it if you saw it as ignorance on my part) but weren’t a lot of the slaves captured in Africa and Arab and sold to white folk traded by black and brown people?

  198. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:25 am  

    this whole business of evaluating ‘groups’ on such terms is clearly nonsensical – individuals and institutions -> complex interaction. a ‘group’ is nothing more than a social institution.

    it’s depressing all this stuff – that’s what it is. all this is about is revenge of #the group# your group fucked mine over centuries and now im pissed, so i see *your group* as enemy.

    where the hell is the constructiveness in that? that’s what’s so depressing – it just means cyclical forms of the same problematic social behaviour.

  199. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:27 am  

    and its the sort of thing that’s kept wars going for centuries. it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. we humans have all flawed pasts as a ‘collective’ – none of our ancestors are as ‘glorious’ as we might like to pretend.

  200. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:30 am  

    200 – kismet – of course they were. this constant modern day obsession with colour completely ignores the fact that just because someone was the same ‘race’ as you didn’t mean they didn’t want to fuck you over if they got some cash out of it! ha – it still happens now – do we imagine people in Bangladesh ( the agencies called ‘Manpower’ hah) don’t make money out of ‘shipping’ labour off to the Middle East?

    I have recently been looking into the history of slavery in the arab caliphate – i will post a document that’s interesting reading. I have to say i think most muslims do gloss over this because the reality is hard to stomach – and it’s very convenient to shift the focus onto someone else. reality of situation – slavery was significant in keeping the powerful powerful, and the weak in their spots – across many societies.

  201. Sid Love — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:31 am  

    well a lot of comments here seem to indicate that some conceptions of ‘white people’ as a group or a block are no less monolithic and flawed as those about say ‘muslim people’ or the kinds of monolithic assumptions about ‘race’ that led to racism in the first place. assuming ‘white people’ => automatically powerful individuals is as flawed as black people = automatically –> lazy and stupid individuals.

    Yeah, white man’s burden and all that. That’s certainly been the case – some of it perceived, some of it justified and some just plain horseshit.

    But which comments on this thread are dismissive of the white underclass in particular? This seems to be Amir’s one and only defence – and those who defend his, erm, race-realism.

  202. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:34 am  

    let’s just say when i was a kid in ‘RE Class’ they didn’t talk about concubinage/sex slavery. Do you know i never heard of that wonderful practice in Islam till a month ago when i started reading some ‘islamic’ blogs? Yes it disturbs me greatly how much is brushed under the carpet when people are busy telling you what a lovely religion you have. of course they don’t want to *confuse you* as a child by talking about sex slavery..there would be too much explaining to do wouldn’t there. too disilllusioning? perhaps

  203. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:35 am  

    offtopic but i want to know – how many people out there knew about this concubinage business?

  204. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    I’m stupid enough to base pretty much everything I know about slavery based on the Alex Hayley and Toni Morrison books I read as a tryhard teen, so I always pictured loads of white men going in and taking back anything black back home. It’s weird to think (for the first time, I’m ashamed to say) that there were plenty of black folk in on the whole thing making shitloads of money out of it. Hm.

  205. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:39 am  

    Islam and Slavery – interesting reading. highlights the attempts at reform

  206. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:40 am  

    the history of zanzibar is a good case in point.

  207. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:41 am  

    so did you know about concubines Kismet?

  208. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:44 am  

    a very good post on Eteraz about this issue

    of course there are a lot of ridiculous questions to these islamic forum type sites where men are asking ‘can i have concubines in this day and age’ – what a suprise there.

  209. Arif — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:44 am  

    Sonia, you might not pretend glorious ancestry or the relevance of ancestral activity, but those who do claim glory from a national history, ought also to claim its shame.

    If those people claim in some way to represent me, or to expect deference from me, then I’m going to be interested to know what they stand for. Apparently one thing they stand for only apologising for things to recognise the fault of the individual apologising. Sudenly there is no institutional responsibility at all. Apart from the honourable exception of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to recognise that the apology is not demanded from him as an individual, but from the institution of which he is the current nominal head.

    On Michael’s point, I also think he is getting at something meaningful – it isn’t the clothes or the language themselves, so much as who defines what is relevant, dignified, understandable, doing things the right way. It obviously matters not a jot to western politicians how they come across to African leaders, but African leaders wish to make every effort to be taken seriously and understood by western politicians. And that is surely due to power differences. And these power differences are something we should be challenging rather than naturalising. And one way to start is to point out some of the seemingly trivial ways in which the power difference is manifested. Most of those who ridicule it aren’t the ones for whom the message is conveyed. It is consciousness raising for people who currently accept a status quo.

  210. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:46 am  

    “but those who do claim glory from a national history, ought also to claim its shame”

    interesting – i shall remember to pester the ‘global ummah glorious caliphate’ types – next time i meet them – about the failure to eradicate slavery.

  211. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 11:48 am  

    does that have implications for the obsession around being ‘British’ then? for British Asians i mena. that people would then have to ‘participate’ in the apology expected from the ‘British state’..

    ah that’s a good one.

  212. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

    “so did you know about concubines Kismet?”

    Um, only in my dreams, like

  213. Chairwoman — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:01 pm  

    Perhaps I’m a little naive, but I would far rather people just stopped doing (insert evil deed of choice here) than apologised.

    Arif – if Western politicians didn’t care how they came across to African leaders, then they’d probably all turn up for meetings in jeans and sweatshirts. But they don’t. To me, people who wear clothes as a political statement, for example, Gordon Brown at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, tend to look childish rather than principled.

  214. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:04 pm  

    “Perhaps I’m a little naive, but I would far rather people just stopped doing (insert evil deed of choice here) than apologised.”

    heh Chairwoman – you’ve hit the nail on the head !

  215. Arif — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:21 pm  

    Doesn’t an apology make clear you recognise (insert evil deed of choice here) was indeed an evil thing? I think in this context we agree slavery is and has been. So it seems odd to me that I’m expected to trust institutions which have been or are actively complicit in slavery, if they do not see a need to apologise for it. Maybe they are denying their responsibility (it was something to do with less enlightened times) and so I assume if times continue to change, those institutions reserve their right to reinstitue slavery to meet new circumstances.

    It is up to you whether you think people should be punished, rehabilitated, compensate victims, make amends to society, pray to God or something else when they do something wrong. I guess this is the implication of the apology that makes a lot of people think it would be inappropriate, rather than being unwilling to say it was wrong to undertake it.

    I’d argue you should impose the same principle of redress to yourself or your own institutions as you do to others and their institutions. That’s what then sorts out a sincere apology from an insincere one.

  216. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    Yeah Mr Soru that Toussaint movie has a great cast. Has Danny Glover directed anything before? Let’s hope he doesnt mess up, this movie deserves to be brilliant. It is ripe to be a masterpiece the story and characters and history it represents. Mos Def is in it too.

  217. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:47 pm  

    The script is based on a novel which fictionalises that period of history and Toussaint’s life called ‘All Souls’ Rising’ by Madison Smartt Bell. How do I know, I can hear you asking?

    It’s called IMDB.com User Comments, you fools!!!

  218. Chairwoman — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:48 pm  

    I think every time the British Government, on behalf of its citizens, sends aid to Africa, it is implicitly trying to make amends for past wrongs.

    I think it is absolutely pointless for people today to apologise on for wrongs done by people long dead who would not recognise that their actions were wrong.

    We’re all familiar with the expression ‘You can’t put an old head on young shoulders’. In this instance current generations are the old heads. Wisdom has been acquired over the centuries. At the same time as certain British institutions were involved in the slave trade, rural English people (I have deliberately said English as I don’t know whether it was the same in Scotland, Wales and Ireland) were not allowed to leave the area they lived in without the permission of the Lord of the Manor, who invariably declined. People were hanged for stealing a loaf of bread. At one point a six year old was hanged for eating an item of food from a market stall. He didn’t understand what was going on, and on the gallows ‘wept for his mother’. During the Napoleonic Wars, the citizens of Grimsby hanged a monkey as a French spy (they’d seen neither a Frenchman nor a monkey).

    Those were cruel and brutal times and it appears to me that if all the apologies owed were made, there wouldn’t be a great deal of time for anything else.

    Let’s go for actions speaking louder than words.

  219. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 12:58 pm  

    It was Hartlepool, not Grimsby, where they hanged the monkey Chairwoman.

  220. Arif — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:03 pm  

    Chairwoman, I understand what you are saying. An apology is not a big issue for me. However I don’t think lack of time was the reason there is no apology. The is time and will for a lot of commemoration, but not for an apology, even though it is repeatedly raised. So there is a conscious reluctance to apologise.

    I think you are arguing that this would open the floodgates to ask for apologies to everything. Maybe so, but we may as well start somewhere in working out what our institutions take responsibility for and how and when. Maybe slavery should not be apologised for because after x years apologies no longer apply. Maybe apologies are always meaningless. Make the reasoning clear so that it does not appear to be a matter of reserving your right to enslave or to pick and choose favoured victims and/or victimisers.

    Selective apologies can be worse than no apologies at all. Actions can speak louder than words, but your actions are often understood with reference to your words. And conversely words are often used to hide the genuine meaning of actions. So is aid to Africa an act of charity, of justice, of diplomacy, of economic prudence or what? An apology is not a solution to this problem. A meaningful apology (where the official reasons and implications are publicly set out) might be helpful. Not least in setting a precedent for States which still permit slavery.

  221. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    Sorry doesn’t mean

    I’m sorry you feel that way

    I’m sorry I’ll never do it again

    I’m sorry I feel bad

    I’m sorry I was stupid

    As any girlfriend will tell you, a proper apology should convince her:

    I understand how I made you feel bad

  222. Chairwoman — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:14 pm  

    Jagdeep – I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I get confused north of Hadley Highstone :-)

    Arif – ‘So is aid to Africa an act of charity, of justice, of diplomacy, of economic prudence or what?’

    All of those. Or just pragmatism

    I am not against sincere apologies, and I hope you know that I am always willing to apologise negotiate, facilitate, reach a compromise, but right now, I’m wondering if our Government’s perpetual hand-wringing and mea culpa-ing is read as a sign of national weakness by certain other countries, and has indirectly led to the seizure by Iran of 15 British troops.

  223. Rumbold — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    European nation states began to traffic in slaves in the 16th century. Traders like the Hawkins family originally took black Africans by force to sell as slaves, but then they realized that was too much effort, so they simply bought them off African rulers instead. The rulers did not sell their own people, rather captured peoples from defeated enemies.

  224. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    Well, for decades the right wing press led by the Daily Mail and others have been scandalised by the refusal of the Japanese government to apologise for the treatment of British POWs during the 2nd World War.

    Japanese Shame!

    Japanese Outrage at refusal to apologise!

    Our lads scandalised by Japan’s Prime Minister’s arrogance in refusing to apologise!

    Now apologies are outrageous if they are requested of the Daily Fucking Mail and their readership.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have said here that the whole issue of an apology is a red herring and a scrap of meat for the mad dogs of the ‘it’s political correctness gone mad!’ brigade.

    But if it’s liberal hand wringing that is to blame, those hypocrites should look closer to home too, if they’re so irked by the commemoration and remembrance of slavery and are feeling persecuted.

  225. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:30 pm  

    I’m sorry

  226. Chairwoman — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    The Germans apologised to us, the Pope apologised to us, no doubt other people apologised too.

    Frankly it’s been a waste of time. Germans still write antisemitic slogans on walls. Baroness Tonge makes antisemitic comments in the House of Lords, and Tam Dyell makes them in the House of Commons. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is still available in London bookshops.

    The apologies to us were not worth the paper they were written on, nor the breath they were spoken with.

    I hope that the descendents of slaves have better luck than we did.

  227. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:34 pm  

    I’M REALLY SORRY

  228. Kismet Hardy — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:35 pm  

    9ah fuck it. it was supposed to be some html wizardry but I keep forgetting I’m crap)

    sorry I’ll go home now

  229. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    In case any right winger with a firework up their a-hole hasnt read my previous eloquent masterpieces further up the thread, I am of course opposed to the notion of collective guilt for historical wrongs and the whole issue of apologising is a media concocted and led scramble so that right wing hooligans can trundle out their persecution complexes.

  230. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

    No stay Kismet! it’s Friday! We need puns and double endres!

  231. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:40 pm  

    double entendres even!

  232. Sid Love — on 30th March, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

    The Germans apologised to us

    After living in Baden-Wurttemberg for a year, I demanded a collective apology from my German friends and colleagues for having me live in such a drab, lifeless shithole.

  233. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:01 pm  

    Apologise to Baden-Wurttemburg for hurting their collective sentiment Sid. On behalf of the whole Bangaldeshi community.

    And Chairwoman, you have to apologise to the entire city of Hartlepool for bringing up that monkey episode and embarassing them. On behalf of the entire Jewish community.

  234. ZinZin — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    To ZinZin:
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African leader address the U.N. in a suit.
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African leader address the U.N. in English (What do we have interpreters for?) rather than his mother tongue.
    To “behave White” for example is to see some idiot African school principal include subjects that are of no relevance to Africa (e.g. The COLD War).
    To “behave White” for example is for African Nations to buy into the failing ideology called democracy.

    Someones been reading too much Malcolm X.

    Typical. Lets take things further shall we if a black person has an education through reading the accumulated knowledge that whites have built up over many centuries does that make them white? Being black in your book is a rather limiting experience alas i must rid my MP3 of Stevie Wonders greatest hits.

    Victim mentality in a nutshell cut nose to spite face and whine louder than ever.

  235. soru — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:19 pm  

    @zinzin: I thought Nation of Islam was all about wearing nifty black suits?

  236. ZinZin — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:25 pm  

    Well Soru that must make them white. Shock Horror.

  237. Sid Love — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    Apologise to Baden-Wurttemburg for hurting their collective sentiment Sid. On behalf of the whole Bangaldeshi community.

    Amir would love it. White people for miles and not a darkie to be found. Almost no immigration and zero diversity. Pizza was exotic as it got, food-wise.

    I almost lost the will to live.

  238. sonia — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    heh

  239. Sid Love — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:38 pm  

    I’m very Bangladeshi like that. I think food and sex are the only reasons g!d put us on this good earth.

  240. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    I’m very Bangladeshi like that. I think food and sex are the only reasons g!d put us on this good earth.

    Add alcohol to that list and you’re a Punjabi.

  241. radius — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    In terms of institutional apologies, i think Agbetu is right about the monarchy because there is institutional continuity there. same goes for the church. The government is different though: at the time of the slave trade the british government represented only the landed classes, whereas now it (in theory) represents the whole population. Companies founded on the riches of slavery (e.g. Tate and Lyle) are a more appropriate target – they have something to be sorry for. Just about everyone ‘represented’ by the brit government doesn’t, and an apology would send out the wrong messages about who’s responsible, who the government represents, and how we perceive ‘race’. It would also be crazy coming from a government which has actually itself destroyed the lives of millions of Iraqis, and lied to its own people.

    I don’t think i agree with sunny, btw, that slavery “was driven by deep-seated racism”: racism is at least as much ideological construct as human flaw, and it was economically convenient to promulgate it. In other words, slavery drove racism, not the other way round. Always look to the economic base!

  242. Sunny — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    I’m very Bangladeshi like that. I think food and sex are the only reasons g!d put us on this good earth.

    Add alcohol to that list and you’re a Punjabi.

    hahaha!! spot on both of you!

  243. Michael — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

    To: ZinZin…
    I’ve never read any of Malcolm X’s stuff and I am totally against the idea of saying sorry for anything.
    I grew up in Nigeria and I know that the west did the African a favor by tapping into it’s natural resources. Why? The African would not have done anything with it!
    The issue I have boils down to the fact that “The heart (Africa) is trying to function like a pump (Western civilization) and this need not be the case.

  244. Chris Stiles — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Well, for decades the right wing press led by the Daily Mail and others have been scandalised by the refusal of the Japanese government to apologise for the treatment of British POWs during the 2nd World War.

    At some level there is a slight difference though – in that the POWs who received such treatment are still alive. The same thing goes for the ‘comfort women’ issue.

    The various historical monuments/museums display a strange myopia too – you basically go from Japan in the 30s to Japan being invaded and essentially fighting a defensive war.

    The americans did miss a trick or two in their haste to reinvent Japan as a bulwark against Communism.

  245. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:51 pm  

    But what does the Japanese Prime Minister born after the war have to do with all that? Same logic — group culpability etc etc — and wartime atrocities — Britain has plenty of those in its closet too.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know what you mean, it’s a vexed issue, and there is a lot of bitterness in Korea and China because of Japan’s intransigence in acknowledging what happened in the war, but the Daily Mail are well versed in demanding apologies and imputing collective responsibility for historical wrongs, so it’s not just ‘liberal hang wringing’ that set all that ‘apology mania’ on the agenda.

  246. Leon — on 30th March, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    Add alcohol to that list and you’re a Punjabi.

    And Irish, West Indian…

  247. Chris Stiles — on 30th March, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    But what does the Japanese Prime Minister born after the war have to do with all that? Same logic — group culpability etc etc.

    Sure – and AFAICT it originally as an attempt to get Emperor Hirohito to apologise, which later morphed into a call for a generalised apology.

    Daily Mail are well versed in demanding apologies and imputing collective responsibility for historical wrongs, so it’s not just ‘liberal hang wringing’ that set all that ‘apology mania’ on the agenda.

    Oh yes, and the Daily Mail’s line is essentially “We are the land of Shakespear and Churchill and we weren’t to blame for colonialism/slavery and anyway Niall Ferguson proved that it was good for them and they should be thanking us”. I just think that the two situations are sufficiently different (because of the presence of survivors), that the straightforward accusation of hypocrisy based on this alone doesn’t work. As much as I dislike the Mail.

  248. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

    Maybe Chris, but I do think that things can be compared on an equivalent level to the Japanese POW ‘demands’ of the Daily Mail brigade with some more recent things. Lets leave behind the survivors of the Dresden firebombings, that is a very contentious issue that might divert the discussion too much (nice statue of Bomber Harris in Aldwych, I believe!)

    What about this:

    Imperial Reckoning
    The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya
    by Caroline Elkins

    HISTORIES OF THE HANGED: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire by David Anderson

    The victims of the gulags and torture and killings in Kenya are still alive. This surely is comparable, in kind, to the situation with Japan, the comfort women, and most importantly the British POWs for whom the Daily Mailers hearts bleed for ‘apology’.

    Any chance of a Daily Mail campaign for the Kenyan victims and living survivors of British atrocity during the mau-mau uprising I wonder?

  249. Chris Stiles — on 30th March, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

    Jagdeep – I think we are in some small danger of violently agreeing with each other.

    Any chance of a Daily Mail campaign for the Kenyan victims and living survivors of British atrocity during the mau-mau uprising I wonder?

    Oh absolutely not, and you and I know why. The point is that both this and the Japanese example have been painted as ‘sufficiently different’ (correctly or incorrectly) that the average Daily Mail reader won’t actually see the analogy – and these are the people you are trying to convince.

  250. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

    Cheers Chris! Nice to debate with you mate.

  251. Don — on 30th March, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    radius makes a good point that in order for large scale, industrialised slavery to be acceptable it was necessary to construct a racial theory.

    I am ready to stand corrected, but prior to that (and the special case of Limpieza de sangre, which had unique historical roots) there was plenty of xenophobia (foreigners are bastards) and chauvinism (we’re great, we are) and anti-semitism ( a religio-political construct which did not argue the inferiority of jews but rather their dangerous alliance with the forces of darkness), but no systematic argument that specific races were inherently inferior.

    Slavery has existed from earliest times (and of course continues today, as several commenters have pointed out), but even the cold and brutal admonitions of the OT and classical writers recognised the common humanity of slaves; they had just drawn the low card and were subordinate and expendable, but not sub-human.

    For a decent, god-fearing christian to become a part of the obviously vile slave trade it was necessary to resolve the cognitive dissonance of:

    I am a good christian.

    I am behaving like a total shit towards these people.

    Therefore, either I am a total shit or these are not really people.

    Thus the search for pseudo-scientific justifications, which in some quarters continues to this day.

  252. Jagdeep — on 30th March, 2007 at 5:58 pm  

    It was the mass systematised and industrial scale of it all that differentiated it too Don, as well as the sheer numbers involved. Entire continents and islands turned into plantations which needed millions and millions and slaves shipped across the ocean to work for generations for nothing but a whipping and a rape.

    Mass industrial-agricultural slavery.

  253. Don — on 30th March, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    Absolutely.

  254. soru — on 30th March, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

    @don & jagdeep: agreed

    someone post something stupid so I can argue, this is no fun

  255. Michael — on 30th March, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

    “something stupid”

  256. Don — on 30th March, 2007 at 7:50 pm  
  257. Shady — on 2nd April, 2007 at 4:11 pm  

    Sunny said

    The fact that some Arabs and Africans were also involved does not negate the facts: that it was overwhelmingly practiced by whites in America and Western Europe; and that it was driven by deep-seated racism that saw Africans as sub-human primates that could be used and abused at will.

    http://www.christianaction.org.za/articles_ca/2004-4-TheScourgeofSlavery.htm

  258. Clarafiedwords — on 17th April, 2007 at 6:54 am  

    ITA agree with Toyin Agbetu and you. As an aside, one of my pet peeves is all the movies with ‘Africa’ in the title starring, produced, and frequented by white folks.

  259. El Cid — on 17th April, 2007 at 9:26 am  

    Agree with *262, although you need a white baddie when it comes to a movie about the diamond trade as the link to the diamond companies. Why it had to be a pretty boy though..
    And the film King of Scotland was damn good. A white guy was the central character but he was carried along by events outside of his control (don’t let the fact he got hold of one of Idi’s wives bug you; Braveheart, apparently, also shagged the Queen of England in the dungeon). Forest Whittaker was sensational, even if he needed to be blacked up for that authentic African look. Moreover, the hero — the other doctor — was black (a great hero too).
    Still, Out of Africa was fricking annoying — but then that was back in the 1980s.

  260. Ramiie — on 17th April, 2007 at 1:16 pm  

    Chairwoman wrote:
    “I think every time the British Government, on behalf of its citizens, sends aid to Africa, it is implicitly trying to make amends for past wrongs.”

    Now that’s the proof, if needed, of a secondary modern education. Naturally, I would like to ignore chairwoman’s ,er, ignorant statements, but – hell – a man’s just gotta do what a man’s got to do. Does she and her many friends on this site realise that the Brit aid industry is in fact funding mainly the lifestyle of an army of seemingly busy but feckless British incompetents ( whose role, it seems, is to keep Africa’s dependent befuddled, while in the words of Idi Amin, provide a briliant spy network on the continent?) If the historically discharged million pounds of Aid was actually spent on africans, would the continent still be in the situation it is in now..or (DUH) is the aid the proverbial plaster on the wounds being dealt constantly on my continent?

    The Aid Africa needs is not an army of blonde airheads, gap year chinless wonders from the surburbs, or third rate engineers, but real investment in infrastructure and dollar driven exploration of its potential – in the Africans’ interest. Its not hard. Instead, Europe is making Africa the cursed continent it is popularly shown to be, and know nothings like Chairwoman,unwittingly perhaps, provide the lies.

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