Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Slave Trade was Global (in case you've forgotten)

Here is a nice illustration of the absurdity of slavery reparations. A protester interrupted a memorial service to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the UK (it wasn't abolished in the empire until 1833, and most slaves weren't technically "freed" until 6 years after that, as the Imperial Abolition required 6 more years of "apprenticeship").

A shouting protester got within metres of Queen Elizabeth II at a service Tuesday marking the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of the slave trade, demanding she apologise personally.

Why should the current Queen have to apologize for something that was abolished 200 years ago??? I suppose the heads of some African tribes are going to apologize to Europe for the African enslavement of Europeans that preceded this, then?

The 200th anniversary has left political and religious leaders wrestling with how Britain should face up to its past role in the slave trade.

Oh please! Britain should be proud of itself, if anything, for having abolished the slave trade before most African nations did. Yes, that's right folks, after Britain's 1807 abolition, and even well after the 1833 Imperial "Abolition," Africans kept happily trading themselves as property back and forth for almost 100 years after this. Slavery was, for example, only officially abolished in Ethiopia in 1923. And nope, it doesn't make it any better that this was "domestic" for the following reasons:

  1. How could it possibly mitigate the violation of the rights of the enslaved that it was "his own people" doing the violating? Is murder a lesser offense if it's black-on-black violence?

  2. In most cases it wasn't "domestic" anyway since the various tribes enslaving each other did (and still do) think of themselves as members of their tribe first, members of their political nation second, and Africans a distant third.

  3. Arabs were busy enslaving Africans and being enslaved by them. They were also enslaving Europeans.

"This nation has never apologised, there was no mention of the African freedom fighters. This is just a memorial of William Wilberforce."

Wilberforce was the driving parliamentarian behind the landmark change in the British law which abolished the slave trade.

Which really does beg the question, doesn't it, of why not have a memorial for William Wilberforce? I mean, if he convinced Parliament to abandon the slave trade, doesn't that mean he did a good thing? Or are you only a hero in the anti-slavery movement if you're not white?

Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, called slavery an offence to human dignity and freedom.

"We, who are the heirs of the slave-owning and slave-trading nations of the past, have to face the fact that our historic prosperity was built in large part on this atrocity," he said.

Oh grow up! It was nothing of the kind. Africans owned slaves before Europe came along and continued owning them afterward, and look what that's done for the prosperity of the continent! I'm really not clear on what the connection between the past existence of slavery and current economic prosperity is? If I'm not mistaken, the overwhelming majority of the United States' wealth, for example, was created well AFTER slavery was abolished - and that indeed the weakness of the slave-based plantation economy in the South was one of the major contributing factors to its crushing defeat in the American Civil War. America is prosperous BECAUSE it abolished slavery, not the other way round.

I, for one, say hats off to the UK for waking up faster than the US, and indeed most of the rest of the world, on this issue. These celebrations should be festive, as befits the commemoration of a proud and noble moment in the nation's history.

The protester

...said he was from Ligali, a British-based lobby group which sets out to "challenge the misrepresentation of African people and culture in the British media."

I would like to humbly suggest that he rededicate his time to fighting the misrepresentation of the British people, and indeed all people of Northern European descent, in the world media. There is, it seems to me, a lot more work to be done in that area than in correcting white impressions of Africans.


At 12:59 PM, Blogger Jon said...



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