Idiot

As I and others have argued before, one reason that British people feel complacent about Britain’s role in pioneering slavery, and the racism that underpinned it, is that it happened slightly farther away. The Caribbean is Britain’s own Deep South, where enslavement and segregation as brutal as anything that existed on American soil took place at the hands of British people.

The islands were worse than the US. We can even prove this. The survival rate for slaves was higher in the US. As was the birth rate, as also the child survival rate.

Yes, I do know this “natural increase” was an argument used by Jefferson Davis among others. Still true though. The sugar islands were vastly worse for slaves than mainland USA.

It’s true that the country’s treatment of people descended from this history could not be more shameful. From the institutionalised racism they experienced fighting for Britain in both world wars, to the attempts to deport members of the Windrush generation just last year, they have endured the worst of what Britain has had to offer.

But this campaign is not requesting a favour for a marginal section of society. The history of how we came to be this nation is a history for us all. If we can’t dignify it with a simple memorial, one whose location, design, importance and even planning permission have already been established, then we really have lost the plot.

• Afua Hirsch is a Guardian columnist

Afua is also, apparently, descended from an Akan mother.

Akan states waged wars on neighboring states in their geographic area to capture people and sell them as slaves to Europeans

A little less of the whitey is responsible for everything perhaps?

40 comments on “Idiot

  1. The problem here is that if you were to suggest to Afua that she was not fully as British as anyone else she would fly into a black rage.( so to speak) She does not, however, seem to feel that she is an equal participant in any collective guilt going.
    All sorts of people want to blag their way into the glamour and machismo of US civil rights but its a hell of stretch. Where were the Jim Crow Laws ? Thats living memory and a “right now” on going societal open wound .
    In the Uk mixed race couple s are the fastest growing ethnicity if you can call it that( you can`t ) . We are a mixed race family. I tell my boys not get dragged into all that stuff . People have different coloured skins, they have different coloured hair, populations tend to be fat and thin this and that .. and …um and thats about it .

  2. I am not ‘complacent’ about Britain’s role in the slave trade; I simply refuse to take responsibility for the actions of people long dead.

    However, if we are going to assign historic blame, Africans were enslaving each other long before the first white man arrived. Africans were still merrily enslaving each other long after Britain banned slavery. This makes Britain overall less guilty of slavery than Africa.

    On a personal level, if what Tim says about Hirsch is correct then she has far more slaver guilt to deal with than me. My NW England yokel ancestors didn’t own any plantations.

  3. Islamic slave trade caused 10+ times the casualties than the Western trade for centuries longer. Lets hear the Marxist bitch’s opinion on that.

  4. Fun time last weekend putting up with one of my more ‘revolutionary’ friends (at our age, really!) during a boozy lunch with my usual 13 socialist friends arguing with me (yes, that’s just me) over Brexit or climate emergencies, telling me that slavery was caused by capitalism and that’s why capitalism is bad…

    Ended up shouting in my face when I pointed out the less revolutionary reality…

    Still, long live the revolution…..

  5. Ended up shouting in my face when I pointed out the less revolutionary reality…

    Shouting at you cos you pointed out that slavery predates capitalism by thousands of years? That their comfortable buzzphrase is meaningless if you think about it for a nanosecond?

  6. Bilbao–You should poison your “friends” –if you can’t bash the shit out of them single handed. No –lets compromise. Drug the fuckers so the are left semi-conscious but so incapable that you can beat the shit out of them without too much trouble.

    Have a photographer on hand to take shots of you bashing them. And then use the photos to make your own Christmas and Birthday cards for your “chums” for the rest of your years.

    Trust me–they’ll laugh about it one day.

  7. Yes, our involvement in the slave trade and expanding it to new continents is major failing in our history. However, as the first society, that I’m aware of, to work out from first principles just how evil it was and then start to pass laws against it and send out our young men to die in fighting to end it, I think we’ve come pretty close to balancing the ledger.

  8. “That their comfortable buzzphrase is meaningless if you think about it for a nanosecond?”

    It’s useless to argue with such people. If ‘religion… is the opium of the people’, socialism is the religion of fuckwits.

  9. Ffs racism came out of the modern age of thinking and was influenced by slavery to an extent.

    It did not preceed slavery as this was an age old institution and actually it was property rights that originally underpinned British slavery.

    Racism developed as the way to square the philosophical rise in the belief in the equality of man coming up against the reality of I equality.

    Racism as an idea developed in the modern age and was not required to create slavery in the colonies. Although it helped somewhat to sustain it, but it was property rights that underpins the debates in parliament.

    Eric William’s even agrees in his book capitalism and slavery.

    Where is she getting this historical view of racism?

  10. “The Caribbean is Britain’s own Deep South, where enslavement … took place at the hands of British people.”

    Surely the enslavement typically took place somewhere in the African interior? After that what happened was merely slave-trading and slave-holding. Nasty things, to be sure, but the enslavement was overwhelmingly perpetrated by Subsaharan Africans.

  11. ” People have different coloured skins, they have different coloured hair, populations tend to be fat and thin this and that .. and …um and thats about it .”

    That’s why Tokyo is exactly like Lagos, and Rochdale is just like Islamabad. Oh, wait….

    No populations of people tend be different looking but you, as an individual , are no more defined by your skin colour than your hair or eye colour, the configuration of your bones or any of the endless differences between people.
    We are an English family mono-cultural if you will, without any dual or complex identity of any sort .None of us have ever lived anywhere else, speak any other language ..and so on – there are loads of people like us .

  12. ‘ It’s true that the country’s treatment of people descended from this history could not be more shameful. From the institutionalised racism they experienced fighting for Britain in both world wars,’

    No it isn’t.

    The majority of non-White British fighting in the two World Wars were from the Asian Sub-Continent and Africa and not ‘descendent from this history.’

    As a Country… Britain was the only European power which banned slavery throughout its empire in the early 19th Century and allocated 10% of GDP to stopping the slave trade, and paid slave owners in the West Indies to release their slaves.

    The recent Windrush episode was stupidity, not racism.

  13. The Economics Detective is doing a series of podcasts looking at the economics of slavery including the role of capitalism – Spoiler: it wasn’t capitalistic and capitalists didn’t benefit.

  14. @Andrew C

    I’ve nit read the boom, so cant comment.

    However, one heterodox analysis is among a whole multi-disciplinary mountain of scholarship that doesnt quite agree.

    Greeks had in/out group distinctions, but the idea of classifying people by biological ‘race’s in the way we know it couldn’t really exist before such progress as the scientific revolution and enlightenment concepts.

  15. “We are an English family mono-cultural if you will, without any dual or complex identity of any sort .None of us have ever lived anywhere else, speak any other language ..and so on – there are loads of people like us .”
    I suspected as much. The archetypal Little Englander. Yet you champion the EU? Ignorance must be bliss, indeed.

  16. ‘ Yes, our involvement in the slave trade and expanding it to new continents is major failing in our history.’

    Expanding? British were not involved in the slave trade prior to the establishment of the America colonies. It was the Spanish who introduced slavery to America… North and South.

  17. “the idea of classifying people by biological ‘race’s in the way we know it couldn’t really exist before such progress as the scientific revolution and enlightenment concepts.”

    What, the Greeks and Romans didn’t notice different coloured skins? Or if they did and drew negative connotations it was ‘colourism’ which was different from racism because? Or Tribalism was such that the Romans said to themselves, these ignorant savages from far off places are in fact exactly the same as us just a bit darker and thicker so let’s enslave them?

    Besides a look at the book on Amazon then points to ‘racism from the Crusades to the 20th century’ and ‘The invention of race in the middle Ages’ so it’s not one analysis but at least several.

    FFS, the ancient world’s mythology was much more alive to them than to us because of lack of knowledge and that mythology was stuffed full different humanoid species never mind races.

    I’m not even sure what the difference is. If a Roman looked down on other people as inferior it was OK because it was ‘culturalism’? Seems to me that if anything, all that happened was the same prejudice was given a new name. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t the same prejudice.

  18. “Yes, our involvement in the slave trade and expanding it to new continents is major failing in our history.”

    Bullshit. It’s just fvcking history. It’s not good or bad.

  19. “IYDLIFO applies.”
    I’ve always thought that about people who say that they hate capitalism. There are still plenty of places in the world were there isn’t any, if you hate it so much, why not get yourself away from it?

  20. Racism is the normal state of humans. In fact, most vertebrates. And invertebrates.

    50 years ago in the West there was a big push to stop discriminating against people in public accommodations and employment based on their race. It was successful. The end.

    No, not the end. The push continued beyond the accomplished goal. [As happened with homosexuals, etc. There is no finish line to Lefty causes – they morph and continue.] It got to the point that ‘racism,’ as defined by the Left, was bad. Horrid, in fact. Even though racism is perfectly natural, and not being racist is dangerous to one’s well being.

  21. I’ve always thought that about people who say that they hate capitalism. There are still plenty of places in the world were there isn’t any, if you hate it so much, why not get yourself away from it?

    The number of such places is rapidly (and thankfully) diminishing. There are certainly plenty of authoritarian countries to choose from, but most of them operate economically much closer to capitalism than socialism, let alone communism. Certainly Russia and China are no longer communist. I guess you’re now left with Venezuela (dying on its arse, sadly for its people), Cuba (following Russia and China but very s-l-o-w-l-y), and DPRK.

    In a way, it’ll be a pity when the last one is gone, as there will no longer be an object lesson to point to when gullible youngsters support such systems.

  22. We are an English family mono-cultural if you will, without any dual or complex identity of any sort .None of us have ever lived anywhere else, speak any other language ..

    So Violet Elizabeth shows his true colours. Doesn’t speak another language yet wants us shackled to the EU. Wassamatter, Violet Elizabeth, too stupid or too lazy? Thought your business depended on trading/services with EU countries but you can’t be arsed to speak to them in their own tongue. Bet you shout loudly at foreign waiters and complain that you can’t get decent sausage, egg and chips when on your hols in Benidorm.

  23. Britain’s role in pioneering the slave trade was as a land-mass on which North African could land to seize innocent villagers and enslave them.
    PERIOD
    That’s not far away (unless you’re a Scot living in the mountains north from Stirling.
    But Grauniad and facts – never let the truth spoil a good rant

  24. I’m with Ecks – the greatest slave traders in history have been the arabs, ffs their perfect man was a slave trader and described blacks as raisin heads. Saudi Arabia officially abolished slavery in 1961, but from what i read the gulf states still treat guest workers from pakistan etc no better than slaves. But no this bitch can’t stop slagging whitey. Why doesn’t she donate the royalties from her book and some of her wages to pay for this monument if it’s so important , I’m sure she can afford it.

  25. She should have The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves played continuously outside her home until something twigs.

  26. I wonder if Ms Hirsch’s family have any records of slave-dealing, ledgers and such? Of course not, they were in such an advanced culture they didn’t need to keep records, pay taxes etc

  27. Romans and racism: there were Roman authors who, having mocked the Britons as barbarians, did admit that they had a remarkable ability. They could burn stones.

  28. Giles Milton’s White Gold – The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow, explains the Arab slave trade very well. Arabs used sail all the way to England and Sweden, IIRC, and kidnap people into slavery. They even sailed the river Thames.

  29. “That’s not far away (unless you’re a Scot living in the mountains north from Stirling.”

    Hardly: there was a successful Arab slave raid on Iceland.

  30. According to the Silk Roads by Peter Francopan (great book incidentally), the Vikings spent more time going East and South than they did coming west to the British Isles. Because they had red hair, they became known as the Rus – hence Russia – and as they moved south and east they captured the peoples of Eastern Europe – the Slavs – who they took to sell to the rich and prosperous merchants of the near and Middle East. So basically for centuries – probably even up until the ‘renaissance’ when the Turks kicked the Romans out of Constantinople and they went back to Italy – the central business of much of what is now Western Europe was people trafficking.

  31. ‘Britain was built on the backs of slaves.’

    James Watt had nothing to do with it.

    ‘How’s your Black History Month going so far?’

    No such thing. Seriously. Black Africans had no written language. Any history of blacks is in other cultures.

    ‘I was stressing the integral role of black people in British history. I’ve talked to hundreds of black people about what life is like for them in predominantly white spaces.’

    I hope someone can find linkage between those two sentences. Written by a professional black person. (Trying to make a living out of being black. Not a black person in a professional position.)

    ‘the problem with Black History Month is that it’s still just that. A month.’

    ‘it’s still just a twelfth of our annual headspace.’ [8.3%]

    Since blacks are only 3.1% of the population, it’s way damn more than you deserve. Black history fortnight is too much.

    Asian history month can replace it, as there are more than twice as many Asians as blacks. 7.1%. They just about deserve it. If there can be 10 white history months.

    Western Civilization needs to value itself, and tell people like Hirsch to STFU.

  32. Hardly: there was a successful Arab slave raid on Iceland.

    What for? Those shelf stackers are lazy bastards.

  33. @ dearieme
    The mountains north of Stirling are inland (no-one lives on the Old Man of Hoy or other seastacks)

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