The musings of a juggling mother

Rants & raves about life as a woman today, juggling work, home, kids, family, life the universe & everything.

© Mrs Aginoth. The right of Mrs Aginoth to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tony Blair is sorry

So Tony Blair has said he feels "deep sorrow". Unfortuantely not for any of the many things he has done that you might think he would be sorry for, but for the fact that a few hundred years ago, Britain traded in slaves.

Now, this is not news. I knew that historically Britain was a slave trader when I was at school. Here in the West country, most of our main city (Bristol) was built on slavery - by wealthy traders and through the massive boost it gave to shipping. I also knew that slavery was common accross the world up until BRITAIN decided it was a bad thing to do and made it illegal (the French made a desultory attempt a few years earlier, but our government was the first to recognise the innate human rights of all peoples, and to state in law, that slavery was wrong). We should be congratulating ourselves on being the most liberal & forward thinking government of the time, not apologising for doing what pretty much every culture (including African ones) had done for the previous 5000 years minimum!

I do not think we, as a country have anything to apologise for. Nor do I think an apology from Tony Blair would have any impact. After all (to my knowledge) he did not own, sell or buy slaves, or support those that do. The people who could make the apology are all dead now! And they don't have any need to either. Should the Italian government apologise for the Roman Empire - they were invaders, slavers and genocidal during their time in power, but as an "oppressed Brit" I feel no need for an apology. Should the current German government apologise for Hitler? How do they have the ability to issue that apology? What would it mean to me? Absolutely nothing! I don't hear anyone calling for queenie to apologise to the british public for the generations of slavery and serfdom in the years before (and after) we discovered the African slave trade was more lucrative - and she (kind of) comes from the same family at least!

Considering slavery was made illegal in Britain in 1807 (some two generations before the USA managed it), there is no-one alive today that has any personal experience with slavery. It deserves to be consigned to the history books, along with many other unsavoury parts of our past. There we can learn about it, and from it, without continuing an anachronistic view of Africans and Carribbeans as part of something that no longer exists here.

Perhaps those that wish to spend their time worrying about slavery should spend their energy more wisely on the millions of people and children in slavery (serfdom/bonded labour/servitude call it what you will) today!

5 Comments:

  • At Monday, November 27, 2006 9:44:00 pm, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said…

    Good argument! I really do think too many people are whining for reparations (read that a free handout) for harm done to others, not them. They would get a lot further in their request for reparations if they were actually going to do something productive with that money like help those currently in servitude. I have no idea what my ancestors did, but being that a good number of them were Vikings, I'd say they did their share of raping and pillaging. As for my ancestors in this country, they were all subsistence farmers with no money to get an indentured servant or slave. So how are we going to decide who pays the reparations, how do we determine whose families were involved? I like the comment of one black person on this subject, (paraphrased) `they should be thankful their ancestors ended up here rather than in the Caribbean, Latin America or still back in Africa. Their quality of life and opportunities for advancement are light years ahead of where they might have been.'

     
  • At Tuesday, November 28, 2006 4:52:00 pm, Blogger CyberKitten said…

    Maybe Tony will get in the apologising mood & apologise for taking us into Iraq. Now THAT would be news worthy.

     
  • At Tuesday, November 28, 2006 6:26:00 pm, Anonymous Dave said…

    Couldn't agree more, anyway anyone with half a brain knows that he's only doing it as a matter of political expediency to apease the black vote. He's fully aware that you can't apologise for the actions of long dead people who were doing nothing ilegal anyway.
    In fact I think that by falling short of actually apologising he probably got it about right.
    The crux of it is shown by Esther Stanford, of the Pan African Reparation Coalition, saying:-
    "An apology is just the start - words mean nothing,"
    "We're talking about an apology of substance which would then be followed by various reparative measures including financial compensation."

    Money talks!

     
  • At Tuesday, November 28, 2006 9:23:00 pm, Blogger Emily said…

    I agree with what has been said here about Iraq. My sister is 19, back from her tour in Basra...the stories would make your hair curl. I can't blog about most of the things she says for obvious reasons. But it is shit on a stick out there.

    Really he should just apologise for himself.

     
  • At Monday, December 04, 2006 1:41:00 am, Anonymous Stephen said…

    Well, I certainly think transporting slaves constitutes a stain on Britain's history, so I wouldn't say Britain has nothing to apologize for. But I agree that an apology now is utterly worthless. There's really no point in apologizing centuries later, it seems to me.

    As for abolition, that was one of Christianity's finer moments. Yay Wilberforce and the Clapham sect!

    (Of course, lots of Christians supported slavery, too — and justified it from scripture.)

     

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