»   Jon Stewart (Daily Show) on how the US media, especially Fox, is screwing over Ron Paul. Wow. http://t.co/YPRrn0Q 6 hrs ago

»   Turns out Libdems were against 'fluorescent bibs' for offenders and now they're for them http://t.co/r2Jiduu another u-turn? 6 hrs ago

»   Amnesty International sharply criticise police use of Tasers after man dies http://t.co/UjGBgc5 10 hrs ago

»   Odd that Spectator's @frasernels keeps pushing discredited figs on immigration & jobs while saying he's for immigration http://t.co/tGC2q76 11 hrs ago

»   Good cover too RT @robertsdan: great topic RT @NewStatesman: A sneak preview of tomorrow's New Statesman cover http://t.co/btDg9ko 12 hrs ago

» More updates...


  • Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head



  • Technorati: graph / links

    Rod Liddle makes his blogging debut


    by Rumbold
    15th September, 2009 at 9:11 pm    

    This should be interesting. After the obligatory parish hello, Rod Liddle tells us what he thinks (and not for the first time) of Mary Seacole, the mixed-race Victorian nurse. Mr. Liddle is incensed to learn that his children know only two famous Victorians, Her Majesty Queen Victoria and Ms. Seacole:

    “So, the Victorians, then. I asked them to name some famous Victorians – they were able to name two. Queen Victoria and Mary Seacole. There you have it: a racially balanced all women shortlist of Victorians.”

    We are not told how long the boys having been learning about the Victorian era, so we have no idea how much they should know. Nor do we know about their expertise in the Roman and Tudor periods, of which Mr. Liddle speaks of earlier in the article. But why do the children know about Mary Seacole, and not other famous Victorians? He suggests that educationalists considered Seacole one of the two most important figures in Victorian history simply because she was an ethnic minority:

    “What about the writers, Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin? Or the politicians, Gladstone and Disraeli?… For the educationalists, Mary Seacole was one of the two most important figures of the century, solely and utterly because she was black.”

    Given that Benjamin Disraeli was a minority as well, the comparison is invalid, but let’s assume that Mr. Liddle’s historical knowledge doesn’t extend to actually knowing anything about those whom he lists. Even so, does he have a point about the alleged over-emphasis on Mary Seacole?

    We value history (the recorded past) because it tells us why are are the way we are. The past shows us how we got here. We learn about societies and events for those reasons, and individuals because of the impact they had, both at the time and in later on. Thus learning about Henry VIII teaches us about the birth of Anglicanism (ironically a French term) in England. The average (i.e unknown) peasant had far less of an impact than the average monarch, so to pretend their stories are equally important (i.e. had the same impact) is wrong. History should be amoral, that is to say without value judgements.

    There is another reason for studying certain people however. Mary Seacole did not have the same impact as Messrs Disraeli, Gladstone or Dickens. Yet to study her can give us an insight in what it was like to be a woman in Victorian England; a minority; an immigrant; a nurse; a traveller. That is not to say that all those in such categories had the same experiences, or that Seacole is necessarily representative of those experiences. That would be a mistake. But focusing on an interesting individual can often humanise the process of learning history, especially for younger pupils.

    In fact, the truth might just be more prosaic. Mr. Liddle’s children could have just remembered Mary Seacole’s name because of an interesting fact they heard about her, and forgotten about others they were taught. I retain memories of unimportant historical figures because they did something particularly interesting or amusing (a 16th century French officer with the surname ‘Bastard’ springs to mind). Or they might have heard their Dad ranting about her (“She is the last thing I think about before I sleep at night. I wake with her name on my lips.”).

    Mr. Liddle is an excellent football writer. I am glad though that he does not teach history.

    Update: Another Spectatorite, the excellent Clive Davis, has a rather different view of Mary Seacole. (Hat-Tip: Dave Weedon in the comments)


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: History






    106 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. pickles

      New blog post: Rod Liddle makes his blogging debut http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5905


    2. antonvowl

      RT @carmenego I wish Rod Liddle would stick to sports writing: http://tinyurl.com/qk4sr6 (I reckon he’s shit at that as well)


    3. Carmen D'Cruz

      I wish Rod Liddle would stick to sports writing: http://tinyurl.com/qk4sr6


    4. Liberal Conspiracy » Indy journos sending coded messages to Rod Liddle

      [...] he started blogging at the Spectator Rod Liddle was infuriated that she was given so much attention, saying: For the educationalists, Mary Seacole was one of the [...]




    1. Sarah Ditum — on 15th September, 2009 at 9:35 pm  

      I love Liddle’s thumbnail sketch of a Victorian literary world where loopy and heavy-going writers like Carlyle and Ruskin are in the top three of all authors. And not, say, George Eliot or the Brontes - who would spank either of the beardy old crusts in terms of sales and talent. Or any poets. In fact, two thirds of the list are ancient, hobbyhorsical essayists. Can’t imagine why Liddle thinks they’re so important…

    2. Don — on 15th September, 2009 at 10:07 pm  

      Liddle is, of course, a toad. If his kids are both learning about the Victorians then they must be in KS 2 and probably folllowing this unit:

      Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930
      11 Teachers can choose between a study of Victorian Britain or Britain since 1930.
      Victorian Britain
      a A study of the impact of significant individuals, events and changes in work and transport on the lives of men, women and children from different sections of society.
      Britain since 1930
      b A study of the impact of the Second World War or social and technological changes that have taken place since 1930, on the lives of men, women and
      children from different sections of society.

      They’ll probably be less than two weeks in with more than five weeks to go. Ruskin? Did he actually mention Ruskin? I got too bored to finish that piece of spite.

    3. big buzz blockhead — on 15th September, 2009 at 10:32 pm  

      We value history (the recorded past) because it tells us why are are the way we are. The past shows us how we got here. We learn about societies and events for those reasons, and individuals because of the impact they had, both at the time and in later on…

      I have to respectfully disagree with the above comment. Those who approach the study of history looking for patterns will invariably find the answers that their biases set them up to discover.

      I can make a cogent case that the opening up of the American frontier in the eighteenth and nineteenth century is evidence of the rugged individualistic spirit that keeps America strong to this day or I can see it as a brutal exercise in racist exploitation and the violent dispossession of the native inhabitants.

      In fact both are true. But it is rarely presented in this manner. Both Liddle and his imaginary pc gone mad instructor (who unfortunately do exist outside of his rich inner theater) are both trying to bend history to their own personal agenda.

      History should be studied thoroughly and cautiously or not at all.

    4. Frank — on 15th September, 2009 at 10:59 pm  

      Who or what was Mary Seacole?

    5. Alex — on 15th September, 2009 at 11:50 pm  

      You also have to look at the phrasing of the question. “List a bunch of Victorians, kids” seems to have been the gist. So they go for the obvious one, Queen Victoria, zero points, and Mary Seacole, probably because all they know about her is that she’s a “mixed-race Victorian nurse”. They’ve probably heard of Dickens and Brunel and Kipling and Albert and others, but don’t immediately associate them with ‘Victorian’. This is more likely to show general ignorance of Mary Seacole, rather than excessive knowledge.

    6. alyssa — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:41 am  

      this is some pretty intense blogging here

    7. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 8:14 am  

      Sorry Sunny, I’m with Rod here.

      I’d never heard of Mary Seacole. But I suppose that’s because we didn’t have ‘Black History Month’ when I was at school.

      And I believe that had she not been ‘mixed race’ then hardly anyone else would have heard of her either.

      Making people to learn about someone, not because of their historical importance but because of their race is, well, ‘racist’.

    8. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 9:57 am  

      Heh Sarah.

      Thanks for that Don. The comments under the article are telling:

      “Political correctness is a devise deliberately created for the purpose of stifling freedom of speech. Clearly, gossiping is regarded by some as a very dangerous undertaking.”

      Big buzz blockhead:

      “Those who approach the study of history looking for patterns will invariably find the answers that their biases set them up to discover.”

      I didn’t mean that one should look for patterns. Merely by studying history in a non-judgemental way we learn about ourselves (which is why I said history should be amoral).

      I agree that some people bend history to their own biases, which is bad. They miss the point of it. It is not about finding heroes or villains, but information.

      Alex:

      Good point. I think Rod should also tell us how much they know in general and how long they have been studying the Victorian age.

      Alyssa- thanks.

      Reza:

      “Making people to learn about someone, not because of their historical importance but because of their race is, well, ‘racist’.”

      If that was the only reason, then I would have a problem with it too (incidentally I don’t like back history month- it is divisive and historically unsound). However you learn so much more about Mary Seacole than her race, which gives you an insight into Victorian life.

    9. Dave Weeden — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:09 am  

      Well, Reza you may ‘believe’ what you like; but isn’t it also possible that until recently few people had heard of Mary Seacole *because* she was black? You’re accusing Liddle’s children’s teacher of being selective - but of course he or she is.

      When I was 10 or 11, we were taught something similar. We certainly did the Victorians. How they related to earlier periods wasn’t particularly clear. I think my pre-teen understanding of history went something like Dinosaurs > Odysseus > Jesus > Romans > Vikings > Henry VIII > Cowboys > Victorians > WWII > now! > Star Trek. I know Queen Victoria lived a long time and she married someone called Albert Hall. We did Florence Nightingale too. She had a lamp; how this helped wounded soldiers was unclear, as was where they were fighting, whom, or why. Primary school history is like that. And it’s always been like that — see ’1066 and All That’ if you think this is the result of PC teaching.

      Liddle’s co-blogger Clive Davis makes much more sense. Given that Davis and Alex Massie are fighting for informed comment against Melanie Phillips already, it’s sad to see Liddle opening up another front against them.

    10. damon — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:28 am  

      Should Rod Liddle be taken too seriously? I get the idea that he is writing with a deliberate devil-may-care attitude that is partly jest.
      It’s more about entertainment, while having a dig at some of his pet peeves.

      What to make of Mary Seacole being prominent in the history curriculum would be a good discussion to have. It’s certainly an interesting and quite fascinating life to study, and it brings together different kinds of subjects.
      Like the geography from Jamaica to the Crimea, and the way that Europen powers allied with each other and fought wars against each other in the mid 19th century.

      So maybe her story is a good peg (as it were) to hang some history lessons on. It helps bring some life to the subject.

    11. Jai — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:28 am  

      let’s assume that Mr. Liddle’s historical knowledge doesn’t extend to actually knowing anything about those whom he lists.

      Amusingly put ;)

      And excellent article, Rumbold.

      Perhaps someone should sneak a copy of White Mughals by William Dalrymple into Mr Riddle’s christmas stocking this year. Assuming that subsequently reading it doesn’t cause his head to explode by New Year’s Eve.

    12. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:33 am  

      Damon:

      “Should Rod Liddle be taken too seriously? I get the idea that he is writing with a deliberate devil-may-care attitude that is partly jest.”

      Sometimes he does, but other times that is just a way to mask his views. He should stick to mocking Ashley Cole.

      See Damon, you can see the value of studying someone like Mary Seacole.

      Jai:

      Thanks Jai.

      ” Perhaps someone should sneak a copy of White Mughals by William Dalrymple into Mr Riddle’s christmas stocking this year. Assuming that subsequently reading it doesn’t cause his head to explode by New Year’s Eve.”

      I get the impression that Rod would have liked being a White Mughal because of the women. Just so long as he didn’t have to learn about their history and culture.

    13. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:37 am  

      Dave Weeden,

      Heh!

      You got exactly the same history lessons I did!

    14. marvin — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:45 am  

      Who is Mary Seacole?

      If she’s mixed race then that explains the her current prominence with school kids. It’s quite simple really.

      Sunny misses the point altogether with Disraeli, he was Jewish, yet this was irrelevant. He’s not fantastic historical figure because he was a decent hard working member of the community and because he was Jewish. His prominence isn’t due to Jewish Understanding and History Month. It’s purely on merit.

      I don’t see anything wrong in elevating Seacole’s position with black school kids. Seems like a good idea.

      If the kids are in the Welsh valleys with 1 black face per thousand then it’s probably a bit silly to harp on about her. In this circumstance it would be relevant to elevate some great Welsh mining figure or something :)

      I’m not surprised most people here deny it’s got anything to do with race, when they know full well it has. It’s a cowardly position. Why not accept it, and be proud of it? I think Seacole should be promoted, but let’s be honest about the reasons why. Inner city black kids do often perform terribly academically, so anything to motivate and inspire can only be a good thing.

      Honesty, not so hard is it…

    15. Chris Baldwin — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:45 am  

      Liddle’s not a serious political commentator, is he? A serious political commentator would realise that his children’s inability to come up with a list of Victorian notables on demand means absolutely nothing of national relevance.

    16. Jai — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:48 am  

      Rumbold,

      I get the impression that Rod would have liked being a White Mughal because of the women. Just so long as he didn’t have to learn about their history and culture.

      Well, one of the characteristics of the ‘White Mughals’ was that, apart from intermarriage, they dived into local cultures, customs and lifestyles to an extent which would probably horrify the sort of person who is outraged by Mary Seacole’s alleged inclusion in the national curriculum…..

    17. Bartholomew — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:55 am  

      Two years of studying the industrial revolution at school. I recall a train called “Captain Dick’s Puffer”; an item called “Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin” (which for years I thought was some kind of chemical); and some bloke called “Iron Mad Jack” who was buried in an iron coffin. Oh, and the sun shines through a train tunnel in the west country somewhere on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s birthday.

    18. Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:03 am  

      Rumbold: referring to the French officer, in one of my first metalwork lesson the teacher went through the various files. The one that filed most metal had a red handle and was colloquially known as a “Bastard” file (he’d even asked for suggestions as to its “rude” name, but the first person to answer got the name immediately). He then said that it probably got called that because it fell on the inventor’s foot. It is one of the few things that I remember about the subject.

    19. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:03 am  

      Douglas:

      Did ye larn aboout Rabbie Burns (sorry, am feeling a bit funny today)?

      Marvin:

      I wrote this piece. As I (and others said) she is studied in part because of her race, but that doesn’t make the study of her invalid. I used the example of Disraeli because Rod Liddle said that the only reason people talked about her was because she was black. I don’t think people should be studied because they are role modles, but if they inspire people that is great. She has enough about her to be studied in her own right, and not simply as a token.

      Jai:

      I think it would horrify Rod, especially if he ahd remember any of it.

    20. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:06 am  

      Heh Bartholomew and Adnan. See, you remember the best bits.

    21. marvin — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:13 am  

      Sorry I still don’t understand your allusion to Disraeli.

      Mary Seacole is prominent in modern education because she is one of very few black figures in Victorian times. Yes or no?

      So, in essence he is surely correct? If she did exactly the same things and was (white) from Slough, would Rod’s kids have mentioned her? Yes or no?

      I am not saying it’s wrong to elevate her status, because she was black, I am saying let’s bloody well admit it!

      Rumbold, this article could have easily been written by Sunny. I’m saying nothing :P

    22. marvin — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:19 am  

      She has enough about her to be studied in her own right, and not simply as a token.

      Something I believe Rod acknowledges with

      I would not mind my kids learning about Mrs Seacole if they knew of 2,000 other Victorians

      Worthy of study, in her own right, based purely on meritocracy.

    23. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:20 am  

      Marvin:

      Rod Liddle said that there only reason she was being studied was that she was black (with the implication being that she is completely irrelevant otherwise). He also suggests that this is an example of PC gone mad. The Disraeli reference was to show that minorities can be interesting for other reasons apart from their race/religion.

      Would Mary Seacole have been as prominent as she is now had she been white? No, probably not. But she did some extraordinary things, so she is worth studying for other reasons as well. That was all I was trying to say.

      “Rumbold, this article could have easily been written by Sunny. I’m saying nothing.”

      Harsh words, coming from you. Heh.

    24. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:24 am  

      Rumbold,

      We got Burns in English lessons. Funnily enough half of every page consisted of translations. I mean, what is this about:

      When chapman billies leave the street

      ‘Twas hard back then y’know… IIRC I’d risen to the exalted rank of milk monitor which consisted of collecting crates of soured milk that had been left out in the sun and dishing it out to the rest of the class. It was probably some sort of early attempt at population control.

    25. thabet — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:27 am  

      What was that someone else said in another thread about being able to “pass for white”…

    26. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:29 am  

      Douglas:

      I am sure that you made a fine milk monitor. I suspect that it was to toughen you up for the harsh world out there.

      Marvin:

      I think we are braodly in agreement.

    27. Ravi Naik — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:40 am  

      Would Mary Seacole have been as prominent as she is now had she been white? No, probably not. But she did some extraordinary things, so she is worth studying for other reasons as well. That was all I was trying to say.

      For Rod Liddle to dismiss Mary Seacole as just a nurse, is depicting the same ignorance as his kids. She was a remarkable woman, like many white men and women of her time. But European (or “Universal”) History fails to acknowledge the contributions of non-whites in the development of Europe and the world we know today, and so, why should it be a bad thing to acknowledge a few remarkable non-whites? In a time when the BNP wants to go back to 1943, as if non-whites didn’t exist back then… isn’t her story and so many other stories relevant? The fact that his kids remember her is precisely because it is unusual for our History to depict non-white individuals as heroes.

      I am so fed up with these pseudo-intellectuals.

    28. Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:45 am  

      Heh Douglas, we studied Tam O’ Shanter in O’ level English lit. (this was in a comp. on the outskirts of London). Also studied other (non-Burns) works Sir Patrick Spens, Edom O’ Gordon, Edward, Edward that needed “translation” also.

    29. Leon — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:52 am  

      Black History Month is historically unsound? What does that mean?

    30. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:03 pm  

      Leon:

      I have no problem with increasing peole’s understanding of immigration, African and Carribean history. What I don’t like is the feeling that black history is somehow different. It should be studied within the broader historical context, not as some sort of show. No one benefits from learning history in that sense.

    31. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:09 pm  

      To elaborate, it is always something that has seemed tailor-made for the BNP. Children learn about history, then they also thing this thing called ‘black history’, which immediatly marks it out as something different, something that doesn’t fall under Britiish history. The history of immigration and the roots of immigrants should be taught as a normal course, as part of the wider spectrum of British history.

    32. camilla - Ravi — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:13 pm  

      “”"History fails to acknowledge the contributions of non-whites in the development of Europe and the world we know today, and so, why should it be a bad thing to acknowledge a few remarkable non-whites?”"”

      were there many of non-whites really REMARKABLE? JUST NAME TEN, please, if you know them…

      the problem is that non-whites with relatively histirically important acts could be unfairly “promoted” with history lessons just because they were non-whites, while others,really importanat historical figures - unfortunately, “whites” - could be “downplayed”…

      History lessons should be impartial, there is no place for “racial balance” or atificial equality on history scene

    33. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:13 pm  

      Very well put Rumbold.

    34. Leon — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:15 pm  

      Well…the reason Black History Month came about was because we were not taught real British history at school.

      I’ve long advocated the BHM should actually be a progressive campaign to change the curriculum rather than a mix of that and ‘celebration’ of BME people’s contribution to history…

    35. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

      Its amazing the spread of the right wing American habit of re-defining racism as something to do with affirmative action. The sheer derivativeness of the obsessions of British right wing pundits is astonishing.

    36. Suburban Tory — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

      Leon

      Black History Month is a joke.

      Have you seen the list of 100 Great Black Britons?

      One hit wonders, footballers, people who weren’t black and Lee Jasper.

      Which historical figures would be removed from your “progressive curriculum” to allow for the study of the works of Floella Benjamin?

    37. persephone — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:25 pm  

      @31 I agree that history needs to cover routes to immigration, including forced immigration and about the impact of the Empire and not solely that Queen Vic was the head of it.

      From my time at school I don’t remember any mention of slavery in Britain but the focus being on King VIII and how the early coracles were made. In fact I only recently found out the latter were not solely found in Britain in the Iron Age (?) but were also made in India, Vietnam and Tibet.

    38. Paul — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:31 pm  

      No-one in Germany knows who Mary Seacole is. 99% of Germans never heard of Carlyle, Ruskin, Gladstone or Disraeli. They might have heard of Dickens - he directed several family films, didn’t he? They never heard of the Tudors, and probably not of Henry VIII (in some pirate film?).

      Rumbold says:

      “We value history (the recorded past) because it tells us why are are the way we are. The past shows us how we got here. We learn about societies and events for those reasons, and individuals because of the impact they had, both at the time and in later on.”

      But he doesn’t know any ‘history’. What he means is this:

      “Nationalists value national historical myth, because it tells the nation why the nation exists (even if it’s a lie). The national past shows us exclusively how the nation got here, while ignoring everything else. The nation learns only about national society and national events, ignoring all societies and events - because that might undermine national unity. Individuals count solely for the impact they had on the nation, and that is the only valid reason to include any foreign types in our national history books.”

      Carlyle, Ruskin, Gladstone and Disraeli are just as much politically correct group-identity totems as Mary Seacole. The British national identity is just as narrow-minded and petty, as the national identities on The Continent and other foreign parts. British national history is just as much a fiction and a myth, as the national history in ‘foreign dictatorships’. It is a mark of Rumbold’s nationalism, that he can’t see that he is a nationalist, just as with Rod Liddle. (I don’t live in Britain, so I never heard of Rod Liddle either). The nationalist can’t recognise his one-sided nationalist perspective for what it is - a mirror image of the chauvinism he despises in enemy lands.

      Pickled Politics and its bloggers promote an integrationist British nationalism, and they have convinced themselves that this is a neutral ideal. They have put themselves into a ‘reasonably middle ground’ - claiming to fight the folk nationalism of the BNP on the one side, and the ‘home-country’ nationalism which drives multiculturalism. But they are not above the parties, they are themselves just another party, and their allegedly inclusionist national history (“Asians who helped build our nation”) is just as nationalist as the BNP’s folk version.

      All that is needed to recognise this, is to spend a few years in another country (although not in some Anglo-Saxon expat community). You think it makes any difference, from a German or Bulgarian perspective, whether UK schools teach about Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole?

      If anyone is interested, I could give a comparative example of history-teaching controversies from outside the UK. But, assuming most readers grew up in the UK, they wouldn’t understand it. The names and incidents would be completely unfamiliar. That’s how it looks from outside the UK too.

    39. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 12:52 pm  

      Paul,

      It is surely the case that every nation has it’s own narrative? There are, almost definitely, politics around the pedantry of historians. IIRC Cecil Rhodes was, at one time, a bit of a hero. Not any more. Fashions change.

      Though I completely fail to undestand why, or indeed how, it should matter in a UK context, whether or not a German or a Bulgarian would be expected to care one way or another about Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole. It seems to me that they are domestic characters, rather than international ones. Perhaps you could explain that a bit further?

    40. persephone — on 16th September, 2009 at 1:00 pm  

      On the flipside, later than the Victorian era, there have been instances where a persons race had to be hidden to retain their standing regardless of meritocracy.

      For example the actress Merle Oberon was anglo indian and apparently took great pains to hide her dark complexioned indian mother (from saying she was her maid to house visitors, having a portrait showing her with a paler complexion to saying her grandmother was her mother). Merle herself could get away with looking ‘white enough’.

      This is the retrogade step that the BNP is moving to.

      So on balance, is it not healthy to have role models that are not ‘indigenous’

    41. Ravi Naik — on 16th September, 2009 at 1:06 pm  

      were there many of non-whites really REMARKABLE? JUST NAME TEN, please, if you know them…

      Out of my head…
      Brahmagupta
      Aryabhata
      Srinivasa Ramanujan
      G.N. Ramachandran
      Jagdish Chandra Bose
      Satyendra Nath Bose
      Rabindranath Tagore
      Pingala
      Bhāskara I
      Siddhārtha Gautama
      Bodhidharma

    42. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 1:16 pm  

      persephone,

      Your last paragraph? Eh!

    43. Jai — on 16th September, 2009 at 1:48 pm  

      But he doesn’t know any ‘history’. What he means is this:

      “Nationalists value national historical myth, because it tells the nation why the nation exists (even if it’s a lie). The national past shows us exclusively how the nation got here, while ignoring everything else. The nation learns only about national society and national events, ignoring all societies and events – because that might undermine national unity. Individuals count solely for the impact they had on the nation, and that is the only valid reason to include any foreign types in our national history books.”

      Carlyle, Ruskin, Gladstone and Disraeli are just as much politically correct group-identity totems as Mary Seacole. The British national identity is just as narrow-minded and petty, as the national identities on The Continent and other foreign parts. British national history is just as much a fiction and a myth, as the national history in ‘foreign dictatorships’. It is a mark of Rumbold’s nationalism, that he can’t see that he is a nationalist, just as with Rod Liddle. (I don’t live in Britain, so I never heard of Rod Liddle either). The nationalist can’t recognise his one-sided nationalist perspective for what it is – a mirror image of the chauvinism he despises in enemy lands.

      As the Pickled Politics editorial team would confirm, given the extent to which Rumbold actually has a truly global perspective on human history and the depth of his knowledge which is glaringly lacking in prejudicial “nationalist” attitudes, I can’t even begin to describe the number of ways in which Paul’s various assertions about him in #38 are utterly, utterly wrong.

      To use the term “cognitive dissonance” would be the understatement of the decade.

      I guess eloquence is clearly not an adequate substitute for psychological clarity or verbal coherence.

    44. Katy Newton — on 16th September, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

      I wish someone had told me about Mary Seacole when I was at school. She sounds fascinating.

      All this stuff about “oh but there’s no merit” in these comments is pants, in my opinion. She did what Florence Nightingale did and was contemporary with her. Would Rod Liddle be making a fuss if his kids had told him they’d learned about Florence Nightingale? Somehow I doubt it.

      I appreciate, of course, that Rod Liddle is neither a woman nor non-white and has made a career out of being ignorant and offensive. I do see that he therefore neither knows nor, apparently, can be bothered to understand why female and non-white role models in history might be important or inspiring to female or non-white schoolchildren today. But I am buggered if I can see why Mary Seacole isn’t just as worthy of being studied by schoolchildren as Elizabeth Fry, Marie Curie, the Brontes, Jane Austen, or for that matter Dickens, Ruskin or whoever the other one was.

      Marvellous that Liddle, a white male writer, clearly considers being a bloke who writes stories vastly more worthy historically noteworthy than being a woman who risked her life to nurse soldiers in the Crimea, eh?.

    45. magistra — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:07 pm  

      I’ve taught history (though at university, rather than school level). When you have a one-hour lecture to talk about the whole of the Hundred Years War, or two lessons to talk about the Victorians, you don’t sit down and work out The Top 10 Most Important People your students must know. You give them a couple of themes and a few memorable anecdotes or personalities, to keep them interested. And some of the most memorable things tend to be the unexpected ones, that make you think twice. Mary Seacole is memorable because she’s not white in a largely white Victorian world. So that’s a good enough reason to stick her in if you want to interest students, just as a lesson on medieval religion might stick in some of the unusual saints, like Simon Stylites.

      And my six year old daughter is this term learning about the Great fire of London, not because it is the most important event in C17 Britain, but because it has exciting things burning down.

    46. Abdul Abulbul Emir — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:13 pm  

      I think we should teach children about the excellent Mrs Seacole but leave out the black bit.

      In today’s tolerant multi-cult society it has no relevance.

      After all we are all colour blind now aren’t we ?

      Aren’t we ?

    47. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:17 pm  

      Abdul

      “I think we should teach children about the excellent Mrs Seacole but leave out the black bit.

      In today’s tolerant multi-cult society it has no relevance.

      After all we are all colour blind now aren’t we ?

      Aren’t we ?”

      Of course not. “Colour” matters very much to multicuturalists. ‘Multiculturalism’ is nothing better than racism.

    48. camilla - Ravi — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:19 pm  

      totally agree Marvin #21

      I am really glad that in my country history is taught differently, otherwise, we would learn that world war 2 was won by national minorities. or even racial ones? oh

    49. Bobsy — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:20 pm  

      Mrs Mary Seacole was a poor altruist; she cadged funds from people richer than herself but she let money slip through her fingers because she was always helping people poorer than herself.

      She was a genuinely fine person, a person of mixed race, and a good role model.

      Florence Nightingale was a fine altruist, too, but her family was well-off, like that of Elizabeth Fry; ethically there is no real difference between the three women except that Mary Seacole had to overcome more obstacles.

    50. Unhappy Briton — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

      I am completely sick of some covert racist white people in the UK. I can’t even go out any more without being abused by whites who are covert racists.Today toffs or intellectuals with media connections are trying to justify covert racism and stir up racism.I don’t care what they say IT IS COVERT RACISM because OVERT RACISM IS NOW AGAINST BRITISH LAW. That’s why they hate race equal opportunity but race equal opportunities have been created because of racism in the past, in first place.

    51. Sunny — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

      Funny you should say that no one cares about people’s race any more ‘Reza’. Clearly Rod Liddle still does because he’s the one taking objection at the fact his children knew about her.

      Oh and the other one’s you, who mentioned ‘Black History Month’ (unlikely she was taught part of that). So basically, it’s people like you who say that lefties are obsessed with race, while simultaenously getting annoyed when black people are over-represented (that must be down to too much diversity training!).

      PS - Rumbold wrote the blog post, not me.

    52. Bobsy — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:24 pm  

      #40

      Persephone, for shame!

      Is it forgotten that Lord Liverpool, a now-forgotten Prime Minister, was of Indian descent on his mother’s side?

      And De Valera was half-Spanish and there is no* documentary evidence that his parents were ever married.

      * the last I heard of the issue, that is.

    53. Dan — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:24 pm  

      Paul

      Tremendous rant, simply tremendous.

      Just out of curiousity though, what does it have to do with which individuals are given prominence in history classes? Your post reads like the answer to a question no-one asked.

    54. cjcjc — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:30 pm  

      I had never heard of Mary Seacole until a few years ago. That she is taught more widely now is no doubt a function of “PC” while at the same time being a “good thing” (as 1066… puts it) since she is obviously a remarkable character, and (as the Liddle kids demonstrate) more memorable than most.

    55. Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

      Camilla @47

      Maybe you attended history classes during the Communist era ? :) It would explain your style. Just asking…

    56. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:43 pm  

      “Multi-culturalism is no better then racism”. So Reza is clearly just a far right loon. In a way thats re-assuring. The blog has been deluged by them. They’re all obviously very angry. About what exactly though is very hard to say. Unless you share their visceral hatreds its genuinely hard to work out what they mean. The British equivilant of people who think public health care leads to Stalin’s gulag.

    57. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      Adnan @ 28,

      So you picked up the reference? It’s a funny poem.

    58. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:50 pm  

      @Sunny

      “Funny you should say that no one cares about people’s race any more ‘Reza’. Clearly Rod Liddle still does because he’s the one taking objection at the fact his children knew about her.”

      I say no such thing. Indeed I say people DO care far too much about race. I say they shouldn’t.

      And Liddle wasn’t objecting to his kids knowing about her. He objected to the fact that his kids named her as the second most important Victorian.

      “… people like you who say that lefties are obsessed with race, while simultaneously getting annoyed when black people are over-represented.”

      There is nothing contradictory about that view. Equality and ‘over-representation’ are mutually exclusive.

    59. Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 2:54 pm  

      Douglas, I wish I had such a good memory but it’s (ahem) the only Robert Burns poem I know. I’m afraid that I’m probably a bit of a Philistine compared to most commentators here. I did not pick up the reference (it’s been a long time).

      It’s indeed a funny poem and has some great lines like the waiting wife “Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”.

    60. Unhappy Briton — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:12 pm  

      Maybe I was pretty angry when I wrote here. But when you are the victim of hate and notice it increasing around you, it is not easy to be objective.
      In answer to Sunny. Yes you are right, I was not taught Black History Month although I am aware of it. That’s because I am so much older and although being British born,it was taught long after I left school. Yes there should be a balance either way with not too much in favour of “equal ops ” gone mad or dismissing “equal opps” out of all hand. On reflection I am sad that the contribution of Black people in History has largely been left out of mainstream teaching for so long (for example the contribution of Indians to the British army during the WW2)until recently. However now that some Black figures form History are being used ,some people are very against it. I do not think Lefties are obsessed with race maybe people like me feel the left are the only people who will listen to us. By the way I have considered voting to the right i.e Conservatives, however I feel I cannot trust them because of how downhill the country went under them in the 80′s and 90′s.
      Also I want children in the future to actually have some role models from Black British and Black History to inspire them along with the mainstream figures instead of just being taught that mostly White Britians in history made any contribution to society, as I was. Only then will we be moving in the right direction.

    61. Philip Hunt — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

      I’m reminded of Paul Graham’s comment:

      What kids get taught in school is a complex mix of lies. The most excusable are those told to simplify ideas to make them easy to learn. The problem is, a lot of propaganda gets slipped into the curriculum in the name of simplification.

      The famous scientists I remember were Einstein, Marie Curie, and George Washington Carver. Einstein was a big deal because his work led to the atom bomb. Marie Curie was involved with X-rays. But I was mystified about Carver. He seemed to have done stuff with peanuts.

      It’s obvious now that he was on the list because he was black (and for that matter that Marie Curie was on it because she was a woman), but as a kid I was confused for years about him. I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better just to tell us the truth: that there weren’t any famous black scientists. Ranking George Washington Carver with Einstein misled us not only about science, but about the obstacles blacks faced in his time.

      Equally, Seacole is obviously taught about because she’s black. Maybe it would be better to teach kids that there were few prominent black people in Victorian Britain, and why.

    62. Suburban Tory — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:20 pm  

      In the US recently researchers asked 2000 High Schoolers to name the 10 most famous Americans (non-Presidents). The top three were all black - MLK Jr, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Six of the top ten were women.

      “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

    63. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

      Paul

      English Heritage? What utter b*llocks! Anyone can be part of English Heritage. It is not, in any way, a racist organization.

      But the Metropolitan Black Police Association (run by Ali Dizaei, a particularly unpleasant compatriot of mine) is. A ‘white’ person is not allowed to be a full member of this racist outfit.

      All the ethnic and cultural exclusive ‘community’ organizations are inherently racist and should not funded by the tax payer.

      Ali Dizaei would be barred from being a full member of the BNP due to the colour of his skin. And Nick Griffin would be barred from joining the MBPA because of his ‘ethnicity’.

      Racism is not a white monopoly. And the irony is, that the multiculturalists who seem to think it is are so utterly racist in every sense of that over-used word.

      @johng

      “Multi-culturalism is no better then racism”. So Reza is clearly just a far right loon. In a way thats re-assuring.”

      The Oxford Dictionary offers the simplest definition of racism as “prejudice based on race”.

      It would have been more accurate if I had written “multiculturalism is simply a form of racism”.

      Because that’s what it is. Grouping people together based upon imaginary social constructs such as race demonstrates pre-judges and essentialises those people. That’s “prejudice”. That’s racism.

      Ad hominem attacks are not credible debate. Tell me, how is the ideology of multiculturalism so different to the brand of racism promoted by the BNP?

    64. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:37 pm  

      Yes teaching kids about black people is obviously totalitarian. Jesus are these people for real? What exactly are they angry about? Black people?

    65. The Common Humanist — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:43 pm  

      Suburban Tory,

      Possibly because they really stand out as fantastic individuals? Are you suggesting that they aren’t great Americans?

      And Yikes, 6 of the 10 were WOMEN! The Republic Will Fall!

      Are you Rush Limbaugh in disguise?

    66. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:44 pm  

      Thank you Jai. I really appreciate your kind words.

      Paul:

      Learning about British history is not a nationalistic pastime- it only becomes so if you glorify Britons and suggest that they were inately superior to other races/countries. I applaud the teaching of non-British history, and think it should be stepped up (a Cambridge don once lamented to me that his undergraduates could spend their whole degrees only studying British history). There should also be more international context when teaching British history.

      But learning about the rest of the world doers not preclude learning about Britain. At present we are a nation state, thus it is important to understand why we have come to be the way we are. This doesn’t imply either endorsement or criticism. I do not consider myself to be a nationalist, in the sense that I favour other Britons over foreigners because they are British (though I do like to make fun of the French).

      “You think it makes any difference, from a German or Bulgarian perspective, whether UK schools teach about Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole?”

      I have no idea. Why should they? I don’t demand that other countries teach British history. We are talking about British schools here.

    67. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

      Leon:

      So we both want the same thing- proper teaching of history in our schools.

    68. Kieran — on 16th September, 2009 at 4:05 pm  

      Interesting that the 100 Great Black Britons list does not include the popular late-Victorian science-fiction writer Matthew P. Shiel. He is credited with influencing writers such as H.G Wells and Stephen King. His most popular book “The Yellow Danger” describes a genocidal war between whites and the Chinese, caused by the rejection of the main villain, Dr Yen How, by a British woman. (“The blacks are the slaves of both, and the brown do not count”). A later book, The Purple Cloud, described one man’s journey to destroy the entire world’s population using chemical weapons. He also slept with a 12 year old girl.

      An unpleasant man but why does ethnocentric history work with the constraint that only “positive role models” are allowed? (It would be interesting to see if one of the most prominent politio-religous groups to have a racist science-fiction creation myth, the Nation of Islam in the U.S, had its origins tied to some of M.P Shiels or a similar author’s work.)

      I went with a group of uni mates to the excellent and inspiring Bletchley Park (home of British code-breaking efforts during WW2) a few months ago. About half were British whose parent were born here, and the other half of us were British whose parents came from countries including Phillipines, Fiji, India, Jamaica and Hong Kong. The BNP would say half only of our group were learning about our history (and, obviously, that half of us were British); multiculturalists would say the same unless some BME link was highlighted.

    69. Ravi Naik — on 16th September, 2009 at 4:14 pm  

      Making people to learn about someone, not because of their historical importance but because of their race is, well, ‘racist’.

      What makes something historically important? :)

    70. Paul — on 16th September, 2009 at 4:43 pm  

      A British nationalist is not defined as a person who would “favour other Britons over foreigners because they are British”. The correct term for a person who wants a British nation-state, a British history, a British identity and so on, is “nationalist”. In any case, ‘Rumbold’ does clearly favour the British and their culture over others, since he wants British history taught in British schools.

      I know that the bloggers here generally won’t like being called nationalists. But that’s what’s generally promoted here - and perhaps it is better visible from outside the UK. It’s also well known that history teaching in schools is a nationalist issue, and that all states use it to promote national identity, and often xenophobia and militarism. So that’s not a side issue, in fact it is the core issue.

      The reference to Bulgaria and Germany may confuse some people, so here’s a more explicit example. What if the EU did enforce a European history curriculum, an idea which has failed to gain support so far. So instead of learning about their own nation, children would learn about a generalised European history (devoid of icons like Florence Nightingale). You can guess that the BNP would oppose this hysterically. But what about the bloggers here at PP? Would they take sides with the BNP, to oppose the ‘totalitarian European superstate propaganda’. I suspect most of them would.

      There is in fact no logical reason why another nation’s history should not be taught in British schools. It happened before, when Ireland became independent - and promptly substituted another set of dates and mythical heroes. It has happened many times, when territory changed hands. Clinging to British history is just as nationalist as replacing it with Irish history (or Scottish history in an independent Scotland). Clinging to a British multicultural history, or a British integrationist history, is also just as nationalist as clinging to any other version of British history.

    71. Suburban Tory — on 16th September, 2009 at 4:54 pm  

      Johng

      Haven’t you got a riot to organise somewhere?

      The Common Humanist

      Well America has been run by ‘White Men’ since it began. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that even with Presidents excluded we get a list that is dominated by women? Why was Amelia Earhart on the list and not Charles Lindbergh? Most teachers at public schools in America, like the UK, are female - you do the Math.

    72. cjcjc — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:03 pm  

      I doubt whether johng would go so far as to organise a riot - though judging by his comments at the delightful “Lenin’s Tomb” he does get rather turned on by excited Asian youths.

      Perhaps he thought he would find some here?

    73. Dan — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:06 pm  

      Paul,

      I think there is an argument for British history being taught in schools, rather than the history of other nations.

      British children have citizenship of this country, and will have the rights that go with that, in particular the right to vote and change the government.

      They cannot vote in other nations, and do not have the responsibility of citizenship towards them. In order to make informed choices over their vote, they need to know what they are voting about, and the context that vote is made in. They do not have similar rights in other states.

      “‘Rumbold’ does clearly favour the British and their culture over others, since he wants British history taught in British schools”

      Not neccessarily. It’s possible that he just wants children to have the information they need, to make the choices they have a duty to make later. That is not to say that the history of other parts of the world doesn’t provide useful lessons when considering your vote, but it will not be as immediately relevant and easy to link as British history.

      Also, your use of the term ‘nationalist’ may reflect what it originally meant, but it’s pretty far from where it’s generally used in discourse these days.

    74. Don — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:16 pm  

      I’ve been wondering who would be suitable subjects to choose when learning about the Victorians if the syllabus requires two individuals to compare and contrast. Bearing in mind that the pupils are eleven and twelve years old. Could anyone come up with a list of ten?

      In literature and letters the idea of trying to get a class to be engaged by the works of Ruskin and Carlyle is a non-starter. Dickens, however, seems an obvious choice. Pupils would probably be aware of at least Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. Although the English syllabus would cover Dickens at some point the social history aspect would be very apt. The Brontes not so much, it’s little young to be confronted with all that brooding passion and their isolation means that there is not much historical content to get to grips with. Tennyson? Again, it belongs on the English syllabus and it would be difficult to find much historical meat on the bones. Kipling? Yes, but then the course would be very largely about Britain’s role in Empire which Rod would probably object to.

      In science and engineering Darwin is paramount, but the theory of evolution through natural selection belongs in science class and Darwin’s life outside of science was largely one of quiet domesticity. Brunel is probably a better bet. The various designers of improved machines are not, as historical persons, terribly interesting. The social implications of the machines were significant but a study of the life of Arkwright is not likely to be very engaging.

      Military men are not going to give a serious insight into Victorian Britain except for pointing out that organising the killing of foreigners was a more highly thought of accomplishment than it is today.

      Politicians? Well, Dizzy yes, as he was colourful and also wrote books with a social content. Gladstone was a bit dull. They will cover the Corn Laws and the Chartists later.

      It is pretty obvious that social reformers offer the best content. Wilberforce, Fry, Nightingale, and Seacole are all valid contenders. You would probably want to pick two of contrasting backgrounds to give the course a dynamic; one from a prosperous background fulfilling noblesse oblige and another from an obscure or poor background whose motives can be examined.

      I’d struggle to come up with ten who meet the bill and Seacole would be one of them.

    75. camilla - Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:18 pm  

      Adnan,I’m not living in Britain! I’m not British.
      I just find this site curious…

      I’m Russian actually…

    76. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:22 pm  

      Suburban Tory,

      If I’d been asked the question these American kids were asked, I’d also have named MLK and Rosa Parks as the top two. And I have never even been to the USA!

      But I’d also have named:

      Butch O’Hare, of airport fame,
      Cassius Clay, he was black,
      some chap called Zimmerman,
      the guy that won the 100metres at the Berlin Olympics,
      he was black too
      Charles Bukowski,
      Hunter S Thomson,
      Marlyn Munro and of course,
      Neil Armstrong.

      Perhaps you could give us link to the right answers?

    77. camilla - Adnan — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:25 pm  

      why “communist era”? what do you mean? something wrong with my Ideas?

      actually I’m younger, communists era ended in Russia, when I went to school

    78. cjcjc — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:26 pm  

      It’s pretty clear not enough history (full stop) is being taught without arguing over the precise syllabus.

    79. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:36 pm  

      Paul @ 68,

      There is one reason why teachers should teach British History to British kids. It is at least a teensy wee bit relevant to them. Teaching about the glorious past of Thailand, say, is unlikely to engage their enthusiasm, is it?

    80. Don — on 16th September, 2009 at 5:58 pm  

      Paul,

      I think there is an argument for British history being taught in schools, rather than the history of other nations.

      I’d agree that the history taught in British schools should be primarily British history, but it is not so long ago that memorising the dynastic machinations of a bunch of inbred thugs was regarded as British history. Yes, of course we should teach the Peasant’s Revolt, the Black Death, the Crusades, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and modern social and political history.

      But to understand the making of Britain we must certainly teach about Rome as well as Roman Britain. I was just taught that they came, saw and conquered and then built a bunch of stuff we could visit. I enjoyed it, but anything else was to be found in latin class. Who they were, why they came and why they fell takes us away from these shores, but we need to do that.

      Britain and India were so interwined for so long (and so recently) that a decent understanding of Indian history seems scarcely unreasonable. So even if the subject is British History we need to look in detail at other countries to get a worthwhile perspective.

      And the subject at this level is ‘History’. It would be a deficient history syllabus that ignored China, the civilisations of the near-east, classical Greece, Egypt or Ghengis Khan.

      (Never ignore Ghengis Khan, it just pisses him off.)

      You can’t cover everything, but if you want to understand how we came to be where we are, which is really more useful? A sound understanding of 19C Russian history or a detailed knowledge of the Plantagenets? The wives of Henry VIII or the collapse of the Ottoman empire?

      To teach a single national history in isolation is a distortion. It suggests to me a nation uncomfortable in its skin, a little raw.

    81. Leon — on 16th September, 2009 at 6:18 pm  

      So we both want the same thing- proper teaching of history in our schools.

      I’ve got no problem with BHM existing until it achieves some stated aims but yes I’d say we do.

    82. Suburban Tory — on 16th September, 2009 at 6:30 pm  

      Douglas

      The correct answers (although the list does include Presidents and it’s most influential rather than famous. Harriet Tubman conspicuous by her absence.

      Of your eight only Marilyn was in the Top 10. The lack of sporting idols eg. Ruth, Robinson, Ali, Owens does I think reflect a feminine bias.

      If the childrens list only contained “Dead White Men” liberals would be outraged and vow to change the way kids were educated. However, it appears they have already done it which is my point.

    83. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      Should history only be about who “ran things”. I find all this outrage completely incomprehensible. Black people (and women) exist. Get over it. As for those pretending to be liberals who are blocing with right wing extremists. What a joke. The only people organising “riots” are the EDL. It is utterly contemptible to see those who claim to be in favour of “enlightenment values” uniting with the far right.

    84. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      Suburban Tory,

      Thanks.

      Yeah, how did I miss the Wright brothers :-) And, to be honest I’d never thought of Albert Einstein as a Yank.

    85. Paul — on 16th September, 2009 at 6:55 pm  

      Dan wrote

      “British children have citizenship of this country, and will have the rights that go with that, in particular the right to vote and change the government. They cannot vote in other nations, and do not have the responsibility of citizenship towards them”

      Indeed British children have British citizenship, which they inherit from their British parents, making it an inherently racist concept. However, because Britain is a racially-based nation-state does not mean it ought to be, or that there ought to be a Britain.

      There is no reason for anyone to be British, or to have any loyalty to Britain, or to participate in its politics. The fact that they were born in Britain, or that they are growing up there, is not a reason to be British - or to learn British history. There is no rational external argument for nationalism, or for the nation-state. Nationalism is an internally consistent doctrine, but so are other doctrines which contradict it.

      There are also clear alternatives for the existence of Britain, for British identity, and therefore for British history. One alternative, of course is to break up the United Kingdom and replace with it with three or four other nation-states. Why should children in Scotland learn British history, if they will live in an independent Scotland? Why should children in England learn about Scottish geography and Scottish history, if it’s just going to be just another EU member state? Why should children in Dover learn anything about Scotland, when they can see France? Why should anyone in Kent feel a sense of common identity with the Scottish Highlands, when they are closer to the Rhineland and Normandy?

      Another alternative, the one that this blog is all about… Why should Muslim children learn about British history, or identify with Britain, or later vote in British elections, when they could learn Muslim history at a Muslim school, identify with the Ummah, and vote for a Muslim parliament?

      The only answer to these questions is of course, the central theme of this blog: Be British, or else.. Threat, coercion, intimidation, violence, ethnic cleansing, mass expulsions, mass murder, deportations - these are the means by which the nation, its national history, and its identity, are enforced.

      Nationalism is what I expect to find here. This blog exists primarily to informally lobby, for a policy of forced assimilation of Muslim immigrant minorities. It’s the line of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although she is somewhat more open about it. The promotion of nationalist history is a small part of that larger picture. Of course I recognise the difference with the BNP or Geert Wilders, whose ultimate goal is not assimilation, but mass deportation. Nevertheless the nationalism promoted here is equally disreputable.

    86. Don — on 16th September, 2009 at 7:10 pm  

      Douglas #77,

      Maybe not, but ancient Egypt and the meso-American civilisations always go down well. Nothing like the details of mummification or human sacrifice to perk up a class. I love all aspects of history (had a couple of good teachers) but with kids you have to have an angle, a hook. Indiana Jones and the Edwardian Scullery? I’d watch it, but I doubt it would be a blockbuster.

      Relevant? There’s nothing remotely relevant about Stephen and Matilda (or Maud). Would a study of, say, Idi Amin which took into account how he gained power, how he exercised it and the consequences be more irrelevant than knowledge of the Hanoverian succession?

    87. Don — on 16th September, 2009 at 7:14 pm  

      …the central theme of this blog: Be British, or else.. Threat, coercion, intimidation, violence, ethnic cleansing, mass expulsions, mass murder, deportations…

      Damn. Sunny, did you change the mission statement and not mention it?

    88. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 7:31 pm  

      But Paul the main argument here is a bunch of far right idiots offended by the idea that Black people are part of British culture. I get the impression that you are missing this.

    89. Suburban Tory — on 16th September, 2009 at 8:38 pm  

      johng

      A history of say, the Russian Revolution, would be pretty useless if it played down the importance of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin in favour of Praskovia Gedymin-Tiudesheva, Nadezhda Krupskaia and Elena Stasova.

      Like it or not people who made the biggest impact on our lives historically were by and large white men - that’s difficult to argue with even for a far-left loon like yourself.

    90. Rumbold — on 16th September, 2009 at 9:31 pm  

      Paul:

      “The correct term for a person who wants a British nation-state, a British history, a British identity and so on, is “nationalist”. In any case, ‘Rumbold’ does clearly favour the British and their culture over others, since he wants British history taught in British schools.”

      No, I want people in this country to understand why things are the way they are today.

      “The reference to Bulgaria and Germany may confuse some people, so here’s a more explicit example. What if the EU did enforce a European history curriculum, an idea which has failed to gain support so far. So instead of learning about their own nation, children would learn about a generalised European history (devoid of icons like Florence Nightingale).”

      Unbelievable. You accuse me of nationalism, then reveal your own plan, which is nationalism plus. What about the Arabs, and the Indians and the Chinese? Why are they excluded from your general history? If we don’t teach British history because to focus on Britain is nationalistic, why are we focusing on Europe. That sort of attitude simply reinforces the sort of anti-Turkish attitudes displayed so prominently on the continent, with the conclusion that the Turks can’t join the EU because they were never part of the historical Europe.

      So, having debunked your nationalist version of history teaching (based on an anti-non European version of history), who should decide what we should teach?

      History isn’t about assigning blame or praise. it is about understanding why things happened and what effect they had.

      Don:

      To find ten people that represent the spirit of the Victorian age is difficult, because the result is inevitably simplistic, and as you say, it is difficult to stop people like Dickens and Darwin from being claimed by other disciplines (though one should still learn about them).

    91. Reza — on 16th September, 2009 at 9:34 pm  

      @johng

      “Multi-culturalism is no better then racism”. So Reza is clearly just a far right loon. In a way thats re-assuring.”

      The Oxford Dictionary offers the simplest definition of racism as “prejudice based on race”.

      Yes, it would have been more accurate if I had written “multiculturalism is simply a form of racism”.

      Because that’s what it is. Grouping people together based upon imaginary social constructs such as race, pre-judges and essentialises those people. That’s “prejudice”. That’s racism.

      Ad hominem attacks are not credible debate. Tell me, how is the ideology of multiculturalism so very different to the brand of racism promoted by the BNP?

      If you wipe the foam and spittle from your mouth, and sit and think about it calmly and rationally you’ll be suprised how similar they are.

    92. douglas clark — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:21 pm  

      Don @ 84, 85,

      Yes, I’d agree obviously. I was completely fascinated by the Aztecs - bloodthirsty so I was - but I think our History Teacher just stuck it in coz she was bored. It certainly wasn’t part of the exams. BTW the History I was taught was largely an English syllabus, I knew more about stuff like 1066 and the 5 Mile Act than about what went on in my own kale yard. The skirmish at Largs in 1263 was never mentioned.

    93. Andy Gilmour — on 16th September, 2009 at 10:53 pm  

      Paul said, for our edification:

      “This blog exists primarily to informally lobby, for a policy of forced assimilation of Muslim immigrant minorities. It’s the line of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, although she is somewhat more open about it. The promotion of nationalist history is a small part of that larger picture. Of course I recognise the difference with the BNP or Geert Wilders, whose ultimate goal is not assimilation, but mass deportation. Nevertheless the nationalism promoted here is equally disreputable.”

      Are there annual PP awards? Because I reckon we’ve got a contender there in at least a couple of categories -
      “most missed the entire point of the original post/thread”, and “allowing personal dogma to override the facts (and/or ability to reason)”

      wow.

      As for Mr. Liddle, his entire career seems to have been one of “coasting” - knowing he’s quite a clever chap, but either by choice or laziness regularly choosing to express a personal prejudice rather than bother to think/research a bit harder (some of his “ooh, atheists are so crap” stuff immediately springs to mind - especially one tv show which was just a litany of straw men and faulty logic. But he got paid, what does he care?).

      This foray into blogging seems pretty much par for the Liddle course. Ho hum.

    94. johng — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:14 pm  

      Who is grouping anyone? And why should I ‘explain how multi-culturalism’ is different from the BNP anymore then I would bother to explain how I know the Moon is not made of green cheese. Apparently other cultures are a huge problem for those like yourself. Everyone has to adapt to some imaginary dominant culture (which you insist exists). But suddenly you are suggesting that other cultures are entirely imaginary. Perhaps everything is just the fault of these liberal do-gooders? Is that kind of where we are heading with this?

    95. damon — on 16th September, 2009 at 11:33 pm  

      It’s perfectly reasnonable to introduce some anomalies into the curriculum that mention some lesser known aspects of British history.

      I only heard of the Yemani muslim presence in South Shields in the early 20th century just recently.
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/31/uknews.mainsection

      And I never knew that Somalian seamen had quite a long history in this country.
      http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConNarrative.109/chapterId/2320/The-Somali-Community-in-the-Port-of-London.html

      The society that produced a national treasure like Shirley Bassey should also be something that is known and taught about in British schools.
      Just generally, without making it a specialist Black History Month like issue.

      Marvin said this about Mary Seacole @ 14, and I don’t think I agree with it.

      ”If the kids are in the Welsh valleys with 1 black face per thousand then it’s probably a bit silly to harp on about her. In this circumstance it would be relevant to elevate some great Welsh mining figure or something.”

      A more rounded education is better I think. But of course there’s only so many hours of teaching history available and so much history. What do you leave out?

      And Marvin, most of those valley children will travel far from the valleys as adults.

    96. bananabrain — on 17th September, 2009 at 9:42 am  

      i expect the victorians themselves would have known more famous black people than rod liddle’s kids; even if mary seacole wasn’t a famous figure, there were plenty of others (even if they weren’t british) to choose from, including:

      the zulu kings shaka, dingaan and ketshwayo
      the ndebele kings, mzilikazi and lobengula
      queen ranavalona of madagascar
      toowodros II of ethiopia
      the “mahdi” muhammad ahmad of sudan

      and most would probably have heard of frederick douglass, booker t. washington and harriet tubman, particularly if they were abolitionists.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    97. persephone — on 17th September, 2009 at 9:58 am  

      Douglas @41 & Bobsy @51

      A little devil in me will sometimes out.

      Bobsy as to Lord Liverpool:

      The name is familiar but I don’t remember being taught about him at school. Also Wikipedia cites he had Indian blood as his great-grandmother was from India. He seems to have no links with his indian relatives.

      I’m not sure about this chap since he delivered a speech against the abolition of the slave trade, which reflected his father’s strong opposition to William Wilberforce’s campaign. He also served as a member of the Board of Control for India from 1793 to 1796. Thats all a real shame considering his Indian background.

      Also, it would be interesting to know whether his indian background was hidden or public since he used his fathers influence to get to his position.

      As to De Valera, I don’t believe any Irish politicians were covered at school.

    98. persephone — on 17th September, 2009 at 10:03 am  

      As a personal choice I propose that one of the Suffragettes be in the top 10 Victorians

    99. Unhappy Briton — on 17th September, 2009 at 10:15 am  

      Wow what a response.
      Now being a working class or “chav” as some people might see me (it’s only fair I say who I am before judging others),a female or “bird” of Indian origin of the lowest Hindu caste of 3rd generation in Britain, Asian or maybe also classed as Black and British as being British born (but not British in many peoples eyes just a Black illegal scrounger refugee alien ).
      I still reiterate my stance about Tories (reference to you “Suburban Tory ” in particular. Your non-sense doesn’t work on me, but as you wish, it probably does on others thus increase in hatred and riots caused and Obama seen as enemy etc..)
      Well looking back to the 70′s and 80′s when I was educated, History now seems to be a puzzling subject. I was taught that Britain had a wonderful history. The second world war was all about rations and and children living in the countryside and gas masks and only Britain fought and beat the Germans. The great Victorian era was about the magnificent British industrial revolution.
      I was never made aware that the reason WW2 came about was because of extreme racism , the Nazi party and the holocaust involved the gassing of millions of Jewish people.(Don’t try and deny it suburban Tory boy)
      Then the Industrial Revolution. Where was the Great British Empire? the one that plundered and ruled a lot of the world? Where was slavery? I am sure Britain played a big part in it. These were all omitted. I think this should have been taught to us as I would have realised how evil and OVERTLY RACIST parts of European and Britain’s past had been (thus explaining why a lot of people still are).
      Now let’s be realistic. Unfortunately for some people Britain at present happens to be a multicultural society and has been for quite some time. So until it becomes devoid of other coloured people, I think it is only fair that there should be SOME BLACK ROLE MODELS from history. Obviously I’m not totally stupid someone argued that there have been no black scientists in history who made a substantial contribution to science. All I am asking is for the allowance of some role models (which do exist) not all role models , just maybe 1 or 2 from some parts of history . I want to learn that the Indians fought for Britain during WW2 and not to feel we just came here as scroungers and Britain alone fought the Nazis. So the majority of history is and happens to be “white history” if that is the case ,thats fine by me. A couple of prominent examples of Black history thrown in isn’t going to ruin the intellectual teaching of History. But I still feel that the full story should be shared of Britain’s past , warts and all, not sanitised versions of it.
      P.S Suburban Tory Re : America - I don’t think all Black and Female History only or just White male History should be taught where one is taught to the exclusion of the other. But as for Britain , America is multi-cultural and has females whether you like it or not and some have made a contribution to society in the past. Therefore some ( a few ) examples should be given (not the majority if that is not the case from history) from them. Also please supply a link showing that the majority of teaching of History in the USA today is all about Black and female History.

    100. Reza — on 17th September, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

      johng

      “…Everyone has to adapt to some imaginary dominant culture (which you insist exists). But suddenly you are suggesting that other cultures are entirely imaginary. ”

      Once again, you’re retorting to an argument that I never made. Try reading more slowly.

      I never said that culture is imaginary. That would be a ludicrous statement. I said that RACE is an imaginary social construct. Therefore, people who group whole sections of society based upon their perception of which race someone belongs to, in order to address that groups ‘special needs’ is a bl**dy racist.

      And how can you possibly call British culture “imaginary”. How can every other ethnic group be allowed to have a ‘culture’ which multiculturalists like you love to promote, nay celebrate, except for the culture of the indigenous British peoples? What an outrageous and offensive viewpoint.

      You are the worst type of racist. At least the BNP have taken the intellectual step to realise what they are.

    101. Unhappy Briton — on 17th September, 2009 at 5:16 pm  

      Say whatever makes you feel good

    102. Unhappy Briton — on 18th September, 2009 at 10:55 am  

      Don’t make me laugh. I have already admitted to being a “chav” and no intellectual ,obviously I am slow, and of course I am beneath the BNP, I AM A P*** from the lowest caste.
      So who are you and what do you stand for? You must be the New Messiah. Was you born colour blind ? Are you sure you live in the UK ? Earth?
      I love “English and British Culture” shame I am made to feel I am not welcome to take part in it any more.
      Unless White Elite males have suddenly lost all their power in the UK and Europe, I think you should be safe in the knowledge that the majority of the “indigenous” people of Britain are still running the country in every way and especially politicly, in fact they have now adapted Nazi Propaganda techniques into their arsenal calling me a racist and President Obama.The Illuminati are stirring racism so that the working class chavs will revolt against “foreigners” .
      Thank you for putting me into the same league as Obama, I am honoured by your esteem, I must be so threatening to you.
      Just because people like me where granted some human rights protection, people like you are jumping up and down. You have had the same opportunities as me. Your people might have decided to be drop-outs at school and not take full advantage of the opportunities that the British Culture and Society offers, so now they are jealous when they get left behind.
      Who are the indigenous people of Britain?? “Britain was an uninhabited total forest of an Island. THEN YOUR “INDIGENOUS” PEOPLES MIGRATED HERE!! FROM EUROPE.
      I see churches everywhere no one has got rid of them. So Messiah, why have your people abandoned the Christian Churches in their masses?
      I will not be writing here any more, I have made my point. You will only use Nazi far right propaganda techniques on me. You should be happy in the knowledge that B***td people like you can’t even see that alot of “foreigners” actually love Britain and Britain’s culture, including churches, Christianity , Chip shops, Education and society, except the bigoted side. Well done for stifling our voice.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.