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?

Or, of course…..

But gambling with dice was common in Rome, two millennia ago. There’s something strange about most Roman dice. At first sight they look like cubes, but nine tenths of them have rectangular faces, not square ones. They lack the symmetry of a genuine cube, so some numbers would have turned up more frequently than others.

Even a slight bias of this kind can have a big effect in a long series of bets, which is how dice games are normally played. Only in the middle of the 15th century did it become standard to use symmetric cubes. So why didn’t Roman gamblers object when they were asked to play with biased dice? Jelmer Eerkens, a Dutch archaeologist who has made a study of dice, wondered whether a belief in fate, rather than physics, might be the explanation. If you thought your destiny was in the hands of the gods, then you’d win when they wanted you to win and lose when they didn’t. The shape of the dice would be irrelevant.

The odds adapted to the different probabilities…..

Oh Lordy, another piece of bollocks

Yet more nonsense about slavery and the Confederacy:

Black Confederates: exploding America’s most persistent myth

Set up a straw man, fail even to burn that down, then proclaim the New History.

“For many people, that is evidence of black Confederate soldiers,” Kevin Levin told an audience at the National Archives in Washington last month. “But it’s not. In fact, no one was confused during the dedication that this was in fact a body servant.”

In other words, an enslaved man.

The American civil war has never been in short supply of myths, but Levin describes black Confederates as the “most persistent”. Hundreds of articles, organisations and websites rewrite history by asserting that between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans volunteered as soldiers in an army fighting to preserve slavery.

Just because it is counterintuitive does not make it true. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee still stands, the issue resonates beyond the halls of academia.

Levin, a historian, educator and author of the blog civil war memory, has been writing on the subject since 2008.

The straw man – that there were black confederate soldiers shows that the South was right.

The supposed disproof – there were slaves that whities brought along to take care of them in camp.

The disproof has the obvious merit of being correct, in that there were camp slaves.

But that there were camp slaves does not mean there were no black volunteers who fought for the Confederacy. It’s not a disproof that is.

The matter wasn’t so, err, black and white. Not all blacks in the South were slaves. Rather more importantly, not all slave owners in the South were white. There were indeed black slave owners. Actually, the first person to actually own a full on chattel slave in the US was black.

That slaves fought for slavery may or may not be true. That some blacks fought for the Confederacy – voluntarily – is true. Just as it’s also true that some blacks owned black slaves.

Strange but true

Poland revived its demand for war reparations from Germany yesterday as the two states observed the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising, in which at least 15,000 resistance fighters and 150,000 civilians were killed for daring to stand up against Hitler.

Polish MPs claim that the unpaid bill for the slaughter and destruction inflicted on their country could amount to as much as €1 trillion. The question cast a pall over the commemoration of the fiercest rebellion against Nazi rule anywhere in Europe, which culminated in the razing of Poland’s capital after two months of ferocious fighting.

A Jew in Germany in 1933 had a better chance of surviving to 1945 than a Pole in Warsaw.

Slightly a trick number of course, for the early year Nazis positively encouraged Jewish emigration. But still a surprising fact.

So they don’t like it then

Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal review – a superb study of anticolonial resistance
An important new history of opposition to the British empire, at home and overseas, from the Chartists and the Indian rebels to the Mau Mau uprising

That’s the subs, bigging up in the headline a book by a columnist. The actual review says this:

charted by Priyamvada Gopal’s arresting and insightful book.

Code for, well, she’s done the work, sure, but it’s not very interesting.

I do wonder you know

This is the same administration that imprisons immigrants on the basis of their sexual orientation and is introducing legislation that would make it legal for healthcare providers and emergency services to let LGBT+ people die.

Where do these beliefs come from?

The make it legal etc thing is a conscience clause. Just like the UK has about abortion. You don’t have to take part in one if it’s against your beliefs. Maybe that’s righteous and maybe its not, dunno. But to be against a conscience clause is to insist that you’re allowed to force someone into doing something they think is wrong. Rilly?

But the imprisoning people at immigration because of their sexuality? Immigration’s not even allowed to ask you about your sexuality. It’s a protected characteristic. People also do indeed gain asylum on the basis of their sexuality. Be, for example, gay from a place where gays are oppressed and they’ll let you in. Permanently. Which is a bit different from jailing you because of your sexuality.

Is it that I’m not privy to some special information source here? Or is it that some peeps are making stuff up?

Suppose so David

If you want someone to call you a traitor or accuse you of hating Britain, try suggesting that Britain is a normal nation or that our history is remarkable but not exceptional. If you’re feeling really thick-skinned, you could also mention slavery or the violence of empire.

Everyone else had slavery too…..

Well, no, not really

He is seen by many historians as the figure behind some of the greatest national projects of his time, and a loving husband who supported Queen Victoria throughout her reign. But Prince Albert gets too much positive press, historian Lucy Worsley has said.

He was dead by end 1861. She had another 40 years of reign to go.

Sigh.

And this is even more stupid:

Worsley told a packed audience of 1,700 people at Hay festival that Albert lacked emotional intelligence and manipulated Victoria for his own ends – namely becoming “king in all but name”.

If you’ve no emotional intelligence then you can’t manipulate people, can you?

No it bloody isn’t

The Clotilda was a slave ship similar to the one on the left”

 

Nonsense. Bugger all chance that something rigged like that did a fast passage of the Atlantic in 1860. To say nothing of running the trading blockade off the African coast.

The BBC has amended the image to this:

That looks rather more believable.

Man your buzzers for the quiz question

It is hard to imagine that the renowned environmental historian Jared Diamond’s new book Upheaval could have arrived in the UK at a more timely moment. The subtitle screams its urgent relevance: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change. If that advice isn’t needed by our political class right now, you wouldn’t want to see when it was.

The book is made up of a number of case studies looking at how different nations have dealt with crises. Diamond examines Finland after its war with the Soviet Union, Chile and the legacy of General Pinochet’s rule, Japan’s response to foreign superiority in the 19th century, Indonesia after the Suharto massacres, Germany’s postwar rebuilding and Australia’s search for a postcolonial identity.

Ooooh, Ooooh, Teach, I know, I know!

We deal with a crisis by throwing the socialists out of helicopters?

One of you lot will know this

British oaks from some of the UK’s most famous estates could contribute towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, following an offer from members of Historic Houses, the association for independently owned historic houses and gardens.

So far more than one hundred donor estates, including Belvoir Castle, Hutton-in-the-Forest, Scone Palace, Castle Howard, Holkham Hall and Powderham Castle have volunteered valuable trees, planted for timber centuries ago, as a gift from the UK to France for the restoration of the iconic landmark’s roof, destroyed by fire last week.

Super and why not.

So, it’s possible to find the trees. But how long does it take to cure (age, mature, what?) cut timber before you start using it as roof joists etc? I know you don’t just stick the green wood up there, but how long?

Utter Twaddle

Prime minister’s plan to lift mood after Brexit is set to clash with anniversary of Irish civil war

It was meant to be a glimmer of positivity to unite a divided nation – a festival to celebrate the best of British, bring communities together and strengthen “our precious union”.

Yet Theresa May is being warned that her plan for a Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland risks doing the opposite. The planned 2022 event, announced at last year’s Conservative conference, was criticised as a headline-grabbing distraction. But May now faces concerns that the timing clashes with the centenary of Irish partition and the civil war. Arts industry figures in Northern Ireland and some of those involved in the peace process are also understood to have concerns. These worries are revealed in a report by the thinktank British Future, which examined the potential for arts and heritage to bring the nation together. The study calls on the festival to be delayed by at least three years.

What is now the Irish republic became the Irish Free State in 1922, while Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. A civil war erupted among Irish nationalists over the remaining links with Britain and raged for a year. Sunder Katwala, the report’s author, said: “Holding a festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022, on the centenary of Ireland’s partition and civil war, would be the worst possible timing. It is only likely to heighten tensions between communities – and that’s before we know Brexit’s implications for the border. Right across the UK, a festival so closely associated with Brexit may only reinforce divides when it could be bridging them.”

Bollocks matey.

The anniversary of the Irish Civil War is an absolutely great and wondrous time to celebrate the unity of the UK and NI.

Because, quite obviously the Irish C W was at about the time that we got rid of those who didn’t want that unity.

Slightly odd thought

The first surprise is the role of Spain in the revolutionary war. In Paris in December 1776, Benjamin Franklin met in secret with the Count of Aranda, quickly convincing him Spain needed to side with the Americans. Ships leaving New England already called at Spanish ports such as Bilbao and Cádiz to purchase cod and flour.

Why would people just off the Grand Banks come to Spain to purchase cod?

I don’t know if they did or not but it does seem to be an odd thing to be doing.

Well, not quite so much

France’s most illustrious Italian import was Napoleon Bonaparte, who came from a family of Tuscan nobles and was born in Corsica as it changed hands from Genoa to France.

The nobility came because Papa made good wasn’t it? Rather than it being a long familial line, it was an appointment to – umm, tax collecting? – which ennobled Papa and thus gained free fees at the military school for Nappy?

Cruel but true

The favourite banana republic leftie hero when I was a kid was Chile’s Salvador Allende, perhaps the first Marxist to be democratically elected to office. Sal set a great example — he was killed before he could wreak any more havoc on his lovely country and so is still revered today by the left.

After three years of redistributing wealth like Robin Hood on steroids, the country was hit by a wage freeze, food shortages, a vicious black market, inflation of 140% — while Chile’s debt soared and the government defaulted on its loans. In other words, it was going exactly — exactly — the same way as Venezuela has gone in the past 17 years. That’s all it takes, three years of revolutionary socialist largesse accompanied by the mimsy poetry of Pablo Neruda and the country’s well on the way to being a basket case.

A coup replaced Allende with the very rightish General Augusto Pinochet and Chile’s economy was back to doing just fine, very quickly. Admittedly, Gus also killed a lot of people.