History

Something I would like to know about David Olusoga

Those who grew rich on slavery and the slave trade were not neutral and no achievement or act of philanthropy justifies airbrushing their involvement from history. This is because forgetting slavery means forgetting its victims. As a nation, we still have only a dim understanding of the slave system that funded Sloane’s collecting. Ironically, one of the sources we can turn to in order to learn more is his own accounts of late 17th-century Jamaica.

The system he witnessed and wrote about was one in which human beings were worked to death. One in which enslaved people suffered and even died from malnutrition, as the economics of the slave trade meant that it was cheaper, at times, to starve people and then replace them than it was to provide them with food.

Sloane witnessed and later became part of a system ruled by terror. He saw how enslaved people who had risen up were burnt to death, castrated or mutilated, punishments he regarded as “merited”. In the system that made Sloane wealthy, black women sought out herbs, plant species that he carefully identified and categorised, and used them to induce abortions, determined as many were not to bring into the world children who would be born items of property and destined to live short, brutalised lives.

Olusoga is of – half – Nigerian descent. Various among the societies that were agglomerated into Nigeria were more or less involved in that slave trade from the supply end. Which of those societies does Olusoga’s ancestry come from?

Reasonable estimates have some 50% of the inhabitants of the Sokoto Caliphate – as late as the late 19th cent – being slaves….

This is indeed tu quoque. But it is Olusoga who keeps insisting that it’s the Brits who are uniquely responsible…..

Which bit are you celebrating?

Union leaders have praised the “brave actions” of a railway worker who overturned a racist recruitment policy in the 1960s.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) marked the 54th anniversary of the breaking of the colour bar at London’s Euston station by pledging to continue its campaign against racism.

On 15 August 1966, the colour bar at Euston station was defeated when Asquith Xavier was allowed to start work after initially being refused a job.

The RMT’s assistant general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “Today we remember the brave actions of Asquith Xavier and those NUR officials who supported him in a campaign which eventually defeated the colour bar at Euston station. We owe so much to those who challenged racism on the railway in an era when it was all pervasive.

Cool, except:

Xavier joined British Railways. In 1966 he was working as a guard at Marylebone station in central London. He applied for a promotion and transfer to work at Euston station, but was rejected. A letter from a staff committee at Euston—which was dominated by members of the National Union of Railwaymen—explained that it was because of his colour. Unions and management had informally agreed in the 1950s to ban non-white people from jobs at Euston involving contact with the public; they could be cleaners and labourers, but not guards or ticket collectors.

Moors and Saracens

Well, yes, OK.

It is not only the twin towers and rose window that have their origins in the Middle East, she pointed out, but also the ribbed vaults, pointed arches and even the recipe for stained glass windows. Gothic architecture as we know it owes much more to Arab and Islamic heritage than it does to the rampaging Goths. “I was astonished at the reaction,” says Darke. “I thought more people knew, but there seems to be this great gulf of ignorance about the history of cultural appropriation. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia, I thought it was about time someone straightened out the narrative.”

See a good idea, copy it, why not? It’s only those worried about cultural appropriation – which we don’t – that would, erm, worry.

They might want to have left out this example though:

“Notre-Dame’s architectural design, like all gothic cathedrals in Europe, comes directly from Syria’s Qalb Lozeh fifth-century church,” Darke tweeted on the morning of 16 April, as the dust was still settling in Paris. “Crusaders brought the ‘twin tower flanking the rose window’ concept back to Europe in the 12th century.”

You know, as the 5th century predates the entire idea of Moors and Islam and Saracens?

Ammonium nitrate

Nasty stuff if it does explode. Which is what just happened to Beirut, couple of thousand tonnes of the stuff. Happened at Texas City and also, I think, in Halifax in WWII? Or thereabouts. One of the stories of which is that anyone happening to be looking out the window as the shockwave arrived is blind…..for obvious reasons.

The ancestor will be revolving

Rage against the dimming light: Irish rebel over lighthouse LED makeover

One of the lights to be changed is St John’s Point. Which is – I assume at least – where g g grandpops was. He was a lighthouseman and moved up from Queenstown to Dundrum and there aren’t many other lights around there.

He’ll thus be revolving. Or, of course, heartily approving. If they work better then why not?

What they say he said

Tom Cotton calls slavery ‘necessary evil’ in attack on New York Times’ 1619 Project

Err, no, not quite. What he actually said:

He added: “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

Now my knowledge of the details of US history is light but even I can see that that’s a very different statement.

As to what was actually the necessary evil I have an inkling that the Founding Fathers didn’t say that slavery was, but some sort of deal that dealt with the existence of slavery was – the union could only get going if there was some recognition of its existence, some set of rules that allowed a slave based society to be a part of it etc.

Perhaps someone who knows more on this would care to elaborate for the rest of us?

Isn’t this just such a horror

Mary Trump has given numerous interviews this week after being released from a temporary restraining order.

In an interview with the Washington Post, released Thursday, she described the president as “clearly racist”, and linked it to her wider family’s “knee-jerk anti-Semitism, a knee-jerk racism”.

“Growing up, it was sort of normal to hear them use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions,” she told the Post.

Many of us will be about the same age. Mid to late 50s.

40 years back such language might have been considered a tad uncultured but it wasn’t unusual. You know, the past, a foreign country….

The Hungarian 1956 refugee

having come from rural poverty and making a living collecting water from ancient wells for the local vineyards using a one-eyed pony called Chepi and a rickety cart………….The Red Cross helped Peter and his mother to reach England, where they were housed in a barracks near Tidworth, in Wiltshire. The only words of English he knew were “cowboy” and “Times”. Eventually they moved to London and were given accommodation in a disused church in Wapping, close to the site where he would later work for The Sunday Times.

He got an interview to study at Campion Hall, the Jesuit college in Oxford, and took along his father’s book, a discussion of which led to the offer of a place. In return for his education he worked in the kitchen.

The English system does manage to get some things right, sometimes. Actually, rather more often than most other places….

I’ve mentioned this before

The case for British slavery reparations can no longer be brushed aside
Afua Hirsch

It grates, intensely, that Ms. Hirsch likes to tell us this and also of her Akan heritage. The Akan being one of the customers of the Portuguese slave traders before the Americas were even discovered. The Ps would pick up slaves – war captives etc – on the oil coast – the Niger Delta that is – then sell them to the Akan in what is now Ghana – the Gold Coast as was. To be used in mining that gold.

Hell, one of the world’s largest gold miners is still Ashanti Gold, Ashanti being, in reasonable parlance, the larger tribal/cultural grouping of which the Akan are a part.

The other thing that annoys so intensely is that the descendants of slaves in the Americas are – with certain agreed exceptions like Haiti – vastly better off than the descendants of the non-enslaved in West Africa. Thus there is no case for reparations at all.

I am currently working on getting this written up at – short – book length. Really, these people are so damn irritating.

Makes them look a bit dim, doesn’t it?

London’s City University has removed the name of Sir John Cass from its business school after complaints that the 18th-century English merchant obtained part of his wealth through the slave trade….

The thing is:

City renamed their world-leading business school 18 years ago when the Sir John Cass Foundation, a charity founded in 1748 to support access to education, donated £5m.

While due diligence was carried on on the foundation, the university had apparently not appreciated Sir John’s links to slavery.

History therefore being something not to study at City University.

No doubt Snippa will pleasure us with his views on the point but they’re irrelevant. He’s not about to give up using his Professor tag for anyone. And it doesn’t come from the business school anyway, he’s from Islington Technical College.

Isn’t this interesting?

The oldest surviving photograph of a Māori person has been discovered in the national library of Australia, a historical “scoop” being lauded on both sides of the Tasman.

Hemi Pomara was kidnapped from his home on the Chatham Islands in the early 1840s by British traders, after his family were slaughtered by a rival Māori tribe.

The interest being, well, is he actually Maori? Or, rather, Moriori?

Given that we know the Moriori of the Chatham Islands were slaughterered and or enslaved in the late 1830s by some Maori…..

Fightin’ Talk

Introduction
Ask a historian, or a political scientist, or a politician the question,
“Who benefited from North American slavery?” and the answer
you will probably get is, “The slaveholders, of course.” The
slaveholders got to work their slaves hard, pay them little, sell
what they made for healthy prices, and get rich.
We economists have a different view. Consider North American
slaves growing cotton in the nineteenth century. Those
slaveholders who owned slaves when it became clear that Cotton
would be King—that the British industrial revolution was
producing an extraordinary demand for this stuff and that Eli
Whitney’s cotton gin meant that it could be produced
cheaply—profited immensely as the prices of the slaves they
owned rose. But slaveholders who bought their slaves later on and
entered the cotton-growing business probably profited little if any
more than they would have had they invested their money in
transatlantic commerce or New England factories or Midwestern
land speculation: with the supply of slaves fixed, the excess profits
produced—I won’t say earned—by driving your slaves hard were
already incorporated in the prices you paid for slaves.
And there is another group who benefited mightily from North
American slavery: consumers of machine-made cotton textiles,
from peasants in Belgium able for the first time to buy a rug to
London carters to Midwestern pioneers who found basic clothing
the only cheap part of equipping a covered wagon. Slave-grown
Who Benefited From
Slaver
U.C.
Introductio
Ask a historian, or a political scientist, or a politician
“Who benefited from North American slavery?” and
you will probably get is, “The slaveholders, of
slaveholders got to work their slaves hard, pay them
what they made for healthy prices, and
We economists have a different view. Consider
slaves growing cotton in the nineteenth
slaveholders who owned slaves when it became clear
would be King—that the British industrial
producing an extraordinary demand for this stuff and
Whitney’s cotton gin meant that it could
cheaply—profited immensely as the prices of the
owned rose. But slaveholders who bought their slaves later
entered the cotton-growing business probably profited little
more than they would have had they invested their
transatlantic commerce or New England factories
land speculation: with the supply of slaves fixed, the
produced—I won’t say earned—by driving your slaves
already incorporated in the prices you paid
And there is another group who benefited mightily
American slavery: consumers of machine-made
from peasants in Belgium able for the first time to buy a
London carters to Midwestern pioneers who found
the only cheap part of equipping a covered wagon.
Economics 113, Spring 2018
2
cotton could be produced cheaply, yes, but the cotton-growers did
not collude and so sold their cotton at prices that incorporated only
a normal rate of profit. Cotton could be spun and woven by
machines at amazingly low prices, yes, but British factories did not
collude and sold their garments at prices that incorporated only a
normal rate of profit.
And there is yet a third group that benefited: northern and western
Americans whose taxes are lower because of the tariffs collected
on imports of goods financed by cotton exports

True though.

Well, yes, why not?

A descendant of Edward Colston has written to Bristol’s mayor to suggest ways of “making peace with the past” such as twinning Bristol with cities in west African countries most affected by slavery

The descendants of slavers can speak unto the descendants of slavers. You know, those remaining in Africa being rather more likely to be the people having done the selling rather than those being sold.

But who?

Two major British firms have pledged to make payments to representatives of black people, as well as those of other minority ethnic backgrounds, as they seek to address their founders’ roles in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

So, who gets the lolly?

And wouldn’t it be fun if they decided to really help black youngsters by funding Katherine Birbalsingh into opening another Academy?

Well, yes John, quite so

Racists think England is theirs. It’s time to show them it is not
John Harris

Cool.

So, who is it using race to define everything at present? It’s not us gammons, that’s fer sure. So, who is it that should be defined as the racists who do not own England?

Gonna be a fun show, innit?

Cool

The real conversation has to be about racism and how we confront it.

David Olusoga

Any ideas?

How are we to deal with the legacy of the Fulani slave state? The attempted secession of the Igbo and its crushing? The manner in which the Federal state continually fragments as each racial (OK, tribal if you wish) grouping insists on getting its own snout in the trough?

Hmm, what’s that? A British Nigerian historian doesn’t want to speak about that, nor the 60 years the Royal Navy spent fighting slavery off that coast. But instead about how something, something, its waaacism, innit.

I’m entirely cool with attempts to define racism then work out a plan to deal with what we’ve just defined. I might disagree with the definitions on offer though…..