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It’s time Europeans demanded reparations for slavery Over a million people from across the continent were taken by Moorish pirates — when will their descendents receive justice?

Let's make people pay for what their ancestors did. What can go wrong? Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Let's make people pay for what their ancestors did. What can go wrong? Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images


August 28, 2020   5 mins

To an outsider many of the causal chains of our time would not be obvious, were they discernible at all. It is three months since a Minnesotan policeman — currently awaiting trial for murder — put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, engulfing America in protest and violence. Yet almost 100 days later the consequences of his actions keep rolling out like ripples in a pond, one of the latest being the BBC’s announcement that the words of “Rule, Britannia!” and “Land of Hope and Glory” will not be sung at this year’s Last Night of the Proms. Why?

It appears that for many people at the BBC, as at various other cultural, media and governmental institutions, the death of George Floyd is not only symptomatic of the actions of one Minnesotan policeman — or indeed of some wider problem that may exist in segments of US policing. For these people the events in the American Midwest are only explicable if they come from a deep well-spring of unaddressed prejudice, and in particular unaddressed historical injustice.

Over recent years it has been striking how easily this assumption has settled in and how glibly many people appear to address it. In the United States there most certainly is a dark and difficult history involving the country’s two and a half-century involvement in slavery, yet it is inaccurate to claim that America has never addressed or “faced up to” its slave-owning past. The US fought a civil war over the issue more than a century and a half ago, at the cost of a million lives, and for the past six decades has very publically agonised over the legacy and historical injustice of slavery and racism.

Of course the follow-on claim is that America cannot be said to have fully addressed its past until it has made reparations of some kind for the sin of slavery, an argument most famously recently advanced by Ta-Nehisi Coates in a cover piece for the Atlantic magazine in 2014.

As though to demonstrate that culture wars which erupt in America inevitably spill out into other English-speaking countries, a set of similar arguments and rationales have now started to be replicated in the UK. The “Rule, Britannia!” row erupted because a number of people at the BBC and elsewhere — erroneously — appear to believe that the song’s lyrics about Britons never being slaves is some kind of celebration of slavery, or at least is impermissable for being written at a time when Britain was still a slaving nation.

It is clearly a disingenuous argument, not least because the words of “Land of Hope and Glory” are also now considered verboten by the BBC — clearly suggesting that this is an assault on the British past as a whole, slavery, empire and all.

But the BBC and their allies appear to have absorbed the same argument that Coates and co have been making, and with it an almost total, if inexact, transfer of the American context onto the British one. As with the American debate, those who have pounded the airwaves in recent days have been busily pretending that the lyrics of Thomas Arne’s song in some way demonstrate that Britain has not faced up to slavery. Once again they display their historical ignorance.

It is simply not the case that Britain never addressed its historical sins, including the horror of slavery. This country tore itself apart for decades in debating the question, and when Britain abolished the practice it did so not only for itself, but policed the waves in order to ensure that the rest of the world ended up abolishing the trade too.

This it did at considerable cost. People high on the excitement of recently-acquired knowledge have in recent weeks often trotted out the claim that Britain only finished paying off slave-owners in the last decade, but even this claim is malevolently dishonest. For it is the fact that Britain indebted itself in ending the pernicious trade in human beings that is noteworthy here; the critics present it as though this debt was a demonstration of support for the trade, rather than a commitment to wipe it out.

Listening to these arguments, many people might be struck by a feeling that the BLM movement, and its allies, are currently indulging in something of an overreach, chiefly because the campaign, with the claims being made about Britain and America, fail a basic moral test: the test of fairness. And if history is to be treated in this fashion — as a thing to be scoured in order that political points may be won and demands for cash reparations be made — then there are many directions in which equally vehement actors might go.

As this debate has reignited, fed by activists and unopposed by enfeebled institutions, so others have — quite reasonably — begun to point out that slaving was not by any means only a British or American practice. In the 18th century – the period in which “Rule, Britannia!” was written — Barbary pirates from North Africa made frequent raids on British territory and British ships. Until the Royal Navy put the pirates out of business, historians have estimated that between one and one and a half million Europeans were seized by Moors and taken or sold into slavery.

Why is there no cause for reparations from the states that engaged in these practices? Why has there been no call for reparations from the descendants and families of those who were taken? And why has there been no sustained campaign to denigrate the history and cultural practises of the people now living in the countries of North Africa? If there is going to be an ongoing attack on societies which led the way in abolishing the slave trade ought there not to be an attack — surely of far greater ferocity — against those countries who gave up slave-trading most unwillingly?

To ask the question is to return to one of the most curious aspects of the modern Western masochistic mindset, the way in which more than one generation have been educated to believe that only their countries ever behaved reprehensibly in history. Were this not so it is impossible to explain why the ignorance over the actions of the Barbary pirates is so total. To take just one example, in the mid-sixteenth century Barbary pirates raided the island of Lampedusa and carried off its entire population into slavery. Why should the current inhabitants of that island not demand recompense from the current citizens of Algeria? Likewise with Baltimore in Ireland, whose entire population were enslaved in 1631.

Every direction in which you take this argument you find yourself opening up some old fresh historical hell. Why is there still no sustained demand for the Ottoman Empire to pay reparations for its centuries-long and quite stupendous historical crimes? Modern-day Turkey is not a poor country yet when it comes to recognition of its past, it does not seem to have the necessary modern attitude of atonement.

What is more, were there to be compensation demanded by those who suffered from the various Moorish and Ottoman misdeeds of the past the demands would be far fresher and closer to the current date than — say — such demands as could be made of the United States of America. It is only 100 years ago that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenian people and the Anatolian Greeks, who they either expelled or murdered by the hundreds of thousands. Where precisely should modern-day Greeks send the bill? And does anybody think that this — any of this — would act as a palliative rather than an incendiary?

It is worth asking these questions not to engage in whataboutery but because it raises a truth which has been too glibly passed over of late. That is the fact that we should try to understand history not only in the round — as we are often told — but in a spirit of forgiveness.

It is too easy (we can literally all do it) to go through history and highlight places where certain people acted unreasonably or even reprehensibly. It is very easy to use history as a cudgel, as it has come to be used against the British people of late. A far harder, but more necessary task, is to recognise that history was pretty much hell for everyone. That few people ever come out of it very well.

But that when they do — as the abolitionists in Britain and America did — it is worth commending them, and dwelling on their actions. Rather than on the actions of that far larger number of people who always go along with the norms of their time. Who did so in this country for centuries. And who did so elsewhere for even longer.


Douglas Murray is an author and journalist.

DouglasKMurray

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Great article, Douglas, thanks. (And what a contrast to the self-obsessed content of so many articles both here and across the media).

There was a female historian talking about this on Talk Radio yesterday. She, too, mentioned the entire Irish village that was carried away by the Barbary slavers. Slowly, this message is getting out there, but the MSM will do all can to crush the truth.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

..

James Bradley
James Bradley
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Talk Radio guest was Helen Dale – writer, lawyer and political commentator.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I live in Leicestershire,
Recently it Was Found with SARS2 imposed Lockdown, Slavery exists in Belgrave Sweat shops making Cheap clothes,Why haven’t the perpetrators been prosecuted and illegals deported/ For A Racist nation as supposed by Mainstream media BBC,ch4,ITV why do they turn a blind eye to this/ Is it hypocrisy?….why is this Number 1 choice for People traffickers in Algeria,Morocco,Pakistan,Turkey,France?…Free Hotel accommodation,Free schooling to unaccompanied children,jump to top of Council house list?..

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’m one of a group of yachtsmen/women who go to Baltimore,
Co Cork to celebrate the event. Its the only place where I’ve
seen a church flying a “skull-and-crossbones”. You need to
go a bit further into the story before jumping-up-and-down.

670678
670678
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The difference between the Barbary Slave Trade and the Atlantic Slaves Trade is that…

1) you cannot compare the size of two slave trades… the Atlantic Slave Trade was vastly bigger and was very much systematic!

2) there is no negative impact on Western Europe today due to the Barbary Slave Trade, whereas the legacy of the Atlantic Slave Trade still exists today, as black people still face a significant about of racism that stems for the Atlantic Slave Trade!

Comparing the two slave trades is like trying to compare the holocaust with the Bosnian genocide, which would be highly disrespectful, as it would downplay the horrors of the holocaust!

bartholomew.richard
bartholomew.richard
3 years ago
Reply to  670678

1.) No, it wasn’t. There is no serious historian arguing that more than 650,000 slaves were ever brought to British North America, and many of those were brought by the independent United States, not Britain. The vast majority of the 12.5 million african slaves taken to the New World were brought by the Spanish and the Portuguese. Do not smear the British with their crimes, particularly not crimes that the Spaniards and Portuguese themselves only learned through hard and bitter experience from the predations of the North Africans.

No lasting effect on Western Europe indeed! I’d like to see you have to go back in time and explain that to the grieving Spanish mother of a child carried off into moorish slavery! What a disgusting and immoral statement.

2.) As for lasting effects, you’ll want to be careful with that argument. If black populations are the only ones who still face problems stemming from slavery that no other once enslaved populations still have, then it is not the experience of slavery that is causing the problems. Your example ends up proving the opposite of what you intend.

Of course, if you were simply after the truth, you would not have to be careful with any argument. You would be free to follow the truth wherever it leads. You should try it sometime. The world makes more sense.

perrywidhalm
perrywidhalm
3 years ago

Another fantastic essay by Douglas Murray. Thank you! I suspect the primary reason that reparations are demanded by the Left for past wrongs – real and imaginary – is they are cynical, amoral people who realize they can successfully blackmail people of good will without consequence. As is obvious, there is little difference between political Leftists and spoiled children. Both groups are immature, self-obsessed sociopaths who constantly throw tantrums and make messes for the adults to clean up.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

It’s just a shakedown.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Indeed, at Evergreen College in 2017 black activists demanded that black students should receive free meals, be exempted from homework and allowed to absent themselves from class at will (vindicating Perry Widhalm’s comment that such demands come from spoiled children).

Over the last few weeks some black activists on twitter have been demanding money from individual white people before they will ‘do the work’ of ‘educating’ them about (alleged) racism. I have no doubt that the majority of black people find such shakedowns risable.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Is Evergreen College still functioning, or is it facing justifiable bankruptcy??

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

It’s still going but with a huge slump in admissions. For some reason college applicants are looking elsewhere … The college is of course in dire financial straits, but I think they’re kept afloat by State funding and charitable donation. For further information go to Benjamin Boyce’s youtube channel which has a video on falling enrolments.

Gary Norman
Gary Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

Evergreen was the precursor to the problems we (society) have now – across the US and here. Type Bret Weinstein in your browser, there are several serious and evenhanded documentaries on Youtube which expose the sheer madness of the rationale of those running the College and its students. It is fair to say Bret’s treatment was brutal and highly unjust, but sadly normal by today’s standards. This case was not well reported outside of the US.

t.kember1
t.kember1
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

If they didn’t do homework or attend class, they would be at a disadvanage when it came to exams.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  t.kember1

But they would have to pass or they would riot.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  t.kember1

Exams = white supremacy.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yes indeed, I remember reading about the lunacy at Evergreen.

Gary Richmond
Gary Richmond
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

Douglas Murray, as ever a brilliant article. If BLM can claim reparations then, why as a Yorkshireman can’t I demand reperations from say, the French or the Scandinavians for ‘injustices’ done to my forefathers?…I suspect, that because, the demand is ridiculous… this argument should be put forward constantly to counter the leftist and BLM claims or, if their claim is valid then surely for the sake of equality and fairness ‘all reparations matter’.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

One of my professors told me that it’s bigoted to expect personal responsibility from black people as they are still dealing with the legacy of slavery.

It seems hypocritical to me to condemn one group for crimes that were committed by their ancestors 150 years ago and let one group off for crimes committed today.

Also, to remove the concept of personal responsibility from a group of people is to put them in the same category as little children or imbeciles.

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Talk about soft bigotry of low expectations!

Bill White
Bill White
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

Wasn’t this addressed 5,000 years ago? – Deuteronomy 24:15. The whole sins of the father thing?

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  perrywidhalm

Heavy reparations were paid after WW1 and also after the Holocaust. I guess you don’t object to the latter? The former may have been quite counter-productive, but I’ll leave that to the historians on here.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Throughout the entirety of human history, slavery existed.

Every single continent, every single race, every single civilisation will have been affected by or taken part in the trafficking of humans. Sub-Saharan Africans were affected more than almost any other race in the latter period, but we are talking millennia of trafficking.

That is until a political movement within a prominent European nation gained enough momentum to force its government to outlaw it. Not only that but to police that globally and force other nations to follow suit, even though economically and politically it might not have been in their best interests.

I do not think that this nation even needs to be thanked for this, or that it is therefore intrinsically better than other nations. But merely to highlight how absurd it is to try and critique that nation on its slaving history.

It most certainly wasn’t the first nation to have opposed slavery, but it was the first to do so, and enforce it. All humans still enjoy that privilege today and are indebted to those who made that possible.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Not quite *all* humans, I’m afraid. You’ll find slaves in London if you know where to look… (which arguably weakens the demand for reparations: if you’ve got money to spend on mitigating slavery, why not spend it on freeing actual slaves now? I suppose that would entail increasing funding to the people who actually do that ” i.e. the, erm, police…?)

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Fair point and agreed – although I mean slavery in the original sense. Where people are physically kidnapped and literally enchained.

Gudrun Smith
Gudrun Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Well reminded. Modern day slavery is what should concern us most.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Somebody commented yesterday that many of the people mouthing off about Britain’s record on slavery and empire have Nigerian names – yet slavery (ie black on black slavery) was only outlawed in Nigeria when it became part of the wicked British Empire.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

And they certainly don’t mention the current slaughter of hundreds and thousands of Christian Nigerians which have been going on for some years now.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Wouldn’t Nigerians, the vendors of the slaves, have to pay compensation to the descendants of the slaves?
Many West Indians have mixed descent. If one is descended from a white overseer and a black slave does one pay and receive?

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Actually slavery died out in Christian (Catholic) Europe long before that. The Normans banned it in Britain.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

I dont think so,The Normans introduced Taxes(Domesday) and Serf system of Capitalism..So no change there..

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Yes indeed – slavery was de-facto less of an issue in Western Europe – at least between European nations. It was still very much alive everywhere else though.

Olly Davy
Olly Davy
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Are reparations an effective way to address the harm caused by slavery? I honestly don’t know.

But there is much more going on here.

The idea that we cannot critique British involvement in slavery because Britain was involved in abolition, or because slavery has always existed, is absurd. Imagine you murdered a bunch of people and then helped create a law that made murder illegal. Does that absolve culpability for your earlier actions? Should we now be thanking you?

The idea that we should be so proud of Britain’s role in abolition is myopic and nationalistic. It’s the result of successful propaganda over many years that positions the worst actors of that period of slavery as glorious change bringers. I’m not saying abolition is a bad thing, of course not, but why did Britain take a leading role in the abolition of slavery? Not because of moral outrage or a deep love of human beings, the state has no conscience, it was a decision based on power and economic interests. The massive slave revolt in Jamaica, with much loss of life and money, no doubt spurred abolition forward. Behind the scenes there were many powerful people who were extremely reluctant. So shouldn’t we be thanking the slaves themselves?

Speaking of which…

Why do we never hear about Toussaint Louverture (a complicated figure no doubt) who probably did more for the antislavery cause than any other individual? Or the Haitian Revolution he led (the only, I think, successful slave revolt of the time)? We don’t hear about these things because they don’t support the narrative of Britain as saviour. If you believe the hype, William Wilberforce practically ended slavery on his own. Simply not true. I think we should be a little more humble.

And if Britain’s involvement in abolition was the action that wiped the slate clean, does that mean we’re not allowed to question persistent, imperial-style racism by our government? Thatcher’s support for apartheid-era South Africa, for example.

The impact of both the wealth created by slavery and the dehumanising affect it had on people who were enslaved echo to this day in the form of inequality and entrenched racism. I think, if we want to progress, we should be prepared to ask ourselves difficult questions and give honest answers.

I agree that banning songs won’t change the world. So how will we?

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Olly Davy

The idea that we cannot critique British involvement in slavery because Britain was involved in abolition, or because slavery has always existed, is absurd.

But nobody says that. Nobody says British involvement in slavery cannot be criticised. What is objected to is when British involvement in slavery is said to be the defining factor of Britain’s identity or, at the very least, one of the key factors defining Britain.

Because if involvement in slavery is a defining factor, then abolishing slavery and enforcing a global prohibition on slavery should be an equally defining factor, because that is a globally positive movement and philosophy that originated in and was unique to Britain.

That’s fair, no?

Imagine you murdered a bunch of people and then helped create a law that made murder illegal. Does that absolve culpability for your earlier actions? Should we now be thanking you?

Yeah, but the difference is that the “murderer” in your analogy has been dead for two hundred years. And you’re debating whether the murderer’s descendants are culpable.

the state has no conscience, it was a decision based on power and economic interests

In that case no state can ever be lauded for anything.

does that mean we’re not allowed to question persistent, imperial-style racism by our government? Thatcher’s support for apartheid-era South Africa, for example.

No, obviously not. Thatcher was roundly criticised for that. And nobody was disappeared to gulags or re-education centres for criticising Thatcher.

I agree that banning songs won’t change the world. So how will we?

That depends what you’re trying to achieve. You might say: to make Britain a fairer place, I imagine. Well, Britain is already a pretty fair country. Every single citizen of Britain and other western democracies enjoys greater rights and freedoms and has more opportunities for self-realisation with fewer restrictions on them and their choices than any other human beings in history.

These few decades in which people’s rights and freedoms have increased enormously are a global and historical anomaly. It is not some natural, default state of human existence. They’re the exception. So it’s important to make sure that any “cure” does not actually make things worse.

Secondly, if you’re specifically trying to improve the situation for ethnic minorities in the UK, first you should take on board that the UK is one of the least racist countries in the world according to all European and global research, and that by almost all metrics life and standards of living have been constantly improving for ethnic minorities.

So: if you want the UK to be a better place, I’d suggest just waiting a bit.

Olly Davy
Olly Davy
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

Thanks for your reply Pete. I was replying to A Spetzari who said ‘”¦to highlight how absurd it is to try and critique that nation on its slaving history.’

Like it or not slavery (promotion of, profiting from, and abolition of), empire and all their modern repercussions are some of the key factors defining Britain. Of course people focus mainly on the problems. Because they’re problems and they need to be fixed.
I disagree with how much credit you give Britain for abolition (see my previous reply). That is the popular, nationalistic narrative, but it’s far from the whole truth.

I agree that there are many measures by which people in Britain are better off than they ever have been. But that doesn’t mean self reflection should stop. That we should turn a blind eye to the shocking levels of child poverty in this country. Or the disproportionate number of BAME people who are locked up or permanently excluded from school. To give just three examples of ongoing problems.

I didn’t know Britain was ‘one of the least racist countries in the world according to all European and global research’ but I wonder if that glib statement is born out by the data or the daily experience of BAME people in this country.

If Britain is a world-leading country, we need to keep leading. Saying we’re better than others or ‘just waiting a bit’ to my mind is not good enough.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Olly Davy

Hi, Olly,

I didn’t know Britain was ‘one of the least racist countries in the world according to all European and global research’ but I wonder if that glib statement is born out by the data or the daily experience of BAME people in this country.

The statement is not glib: it’s true. The closest we can get to cast-iron evidence about racism in the UK and other countries is through uniform public opinion research done in various countries. Research like World Values and European Values show that the UK is one of the least racist countries in the world.

I do not deny at all that there are racists in the UK. It is impossible that there would not be. Naturally, if a BAME person has a nasty encounter with a white racist, he is likely to think that Britain has lots of racists in it. If I get mugged, I am more likely to think that there is a lot of violent crime in the UK. But this evidence is anecdotal, subjective and necessarily skewed.

Secondly, there can be no doubt that there are some activists who continually push the line that Britain is an irredeemably racist country. It’s essentially become their job. As these activists are very active on Twitter, their voices seem very loud. Their controversial views get them invited on TV a lot.

But it is wrong to assume that these people in any way speak for all BAME people in Britain. They represent nobody but themselves. There are also many black commentators who flat-out deny that Britain is horribly racist, but their views are not so controversial so they get less publicity. It is ironic that the response to many of these BAME commentators involves actual racist abuse (coconut, Uncle Tom etc.).

If Britain is a world-leading country, we need to keep leading. Saying we’re better than others or ‘just waiting a bit’ to my mind is not good enough.

Of course, improvement is always possible and desirable. But i) we must squash the narrative that Britain has a major racism problem; ii) we must not ignore the progress made in recent decades, including educational outcomes for black people; and iii) we must ensure that efforts to improve things do not make things worse, viz. illiberal laws on “hate speech”.

Olly Davy
Olly Davy
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

Thanks Pete. I’ve broken the golden rule for maintaining sanity in a mad world: do not get involved in comment-section debates. I respect your opinion but I fundamentally disagree with you on most points.

I do agree that sometimes people go too far while supporting ‘social justice’ and it can be either cringeworthy or inflammatory. Although I disagree with Douglas Murray, the author of the article above, I am interested to read his book The Madness of Crowds. I find it stimulating to hear opinions that challenge my own (which is why I’m here)

I also think the hysteria over ‘cancel culture’ and free speech being shut down is overblown. Most people complaining about this are white, middle class and middle aged. They can see the world changing, they are becoming increasingly irrelevant and it scares them.

I looked up those surveys. Thanks for sharing. They made interesting reading. It’s great that we’re a tolerant country. I celebrate that and the progress we’ve made in other areas. But racism and its impact goes far beyond individuals tolerance for each other on a personal level. To think racism is simply about a bigot shouting abuse at a BAME person is reductive in the extreme.

I would never use a survey like that as proof that racism is not a problem this country. I understand that as the world order changes, the west gradually declines and traditional norms are challenged, people feel uncomfortable and seek to arrest the change, or claim that everything is fine thank you very much. To me that seems like effort in the wrong direction.

There are reactionaries on both sides. I take personal responsibility to try and see past them and find something closer to the truth. I don’t engage with extremists of any stripe on social media. I rarely get involved in debates like this (it’s exhausting!). But I’m not sure if ‘squashing the narrative’ is ever the route to positive change. Challenge extremists by all means but not by denying the problem exists.

Racism is structural and ingrained in the way institutions work. There are many similarities with class in how it limits people’s opportunities and changes their life experience. Major racial and ethnic inequalities persist in employment, housing and the justice system. There is a lot of academic material on these subjects but I’ll admit I have not dived far into it.

I must be honest – this is not my lived experience. As a white middle class person I have benefited from a societal hierarchy that is structured largely in my favour. I’m grateful for that but I also see why it is a problem. I welcome more equality across the board.

Because racism is not my lived experience and I felt my own ignorance of of it keenly, I did some reading. I found the following books enlightening.

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – Afua Hirsch
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race ““ Reni Eddo-Lodge
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

All the best, I wish you well.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Olly Davy

I’ve broken the golden rule for maintaining sanity in a mad world: do not get involved in comment-section debates.

Get out while you still can, Olly! Save yourself!

It does seem we won’t see eye to eye on many things, but it’s good to be able to discuss things without getting heated and without ending up hating each others’ guts.

Cheers.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

I am impressed by the civility of this whole exchange. It’s hard to believe such a debate has not already devolved into baseless and crude accusations (“woke snowflake”, “white supremacist”, etc)
More credit to you both never to have mentioned Trump (the ultimate “trump card” on either side of any internet debate these days)
Congrats to you both.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago

This is why the wokesters are frantically trying to rebrand ‘racism’ as ‘white supremacy’. Their hope, being postmodern idealists in the spirit of 1984, is that by changing the words they make people use, they can make it impossible for us even to realise when whites are the victims of racism, because we would lack the language to express such a thought. After all, blacks can hardly perpetrate white supremacy against whites, can they?

This follows the attempts of the feminist movement to do the same with ‘sexism’ and ‘patriarchy’ / ‘misogyny’. As always, to overcome one head of the identity politics hydra, you must understand the others. They use the same tricks.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

That’s very interesting. The notions of ‘whiteness’ and ‘toxic masculinity’, too, fit your theory, I suppose. It’s a kind of deflection from the conditional or circumstantial, what can be changed, reformed, or what can apply to anyone regardless of ‘identity’, toward a totality (totalitarian) or something immutable, set in opposition. It serves to absolve the ‘victim’ of having any role or agency at all. It is full-blown demonization.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Girling

Indeed. This is an insufficiently appreciated point.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Girling

It’s also very manichean: a metaphysical, unresolvable, eternal conflict between good and evil.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I’ve said the same. Starting more than 35 years ago.
Even before that. Here’s what in 1979,a baby copper in a training classroom experienced. Having been given equal pay and status, it was pointed out to WPCs the data on past career lengths of their gender. With a snide comment regarding finding a good copper to marry and have kids.
Typical break down to build up instructor behaviour in those days.
The rant started from the back.
‘ You just tell me one thing that men can do that women can’t? ‘ She almost screamed it.
Then in the echoing silence a calm ex paratrooper from the back said. ‘ Easy one. Five women can’t p i z z in the same bucket at the same time. ‘
End of argument. There is too much claiming of rights to do and be things. To explain. I’m a biggish bloke. I would not prevent my other half from trying to lift 100 lb bags of building materials if she wanted to. I would not, however, employ her or many blokes of her stature to do such a thing as a job. They wouldn’t last an hour or they’d break down.
Does that make me sexist?
Opportunity is paramount but common sense in the horses for courses sense must also play a part in sex, race, religion, etc. or we risk being accused of insensitivity in those cases so cannot win.

Martin Wright
Martin Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

My (white) grandfather died as a slave of the Japanese in Burma. Slavery doesn’t have a colour.

Pedro Mendez
Pedro Mendez
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Wright

What was he doing in Burma?

danhobbins6
danhobbins6
3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Mendez

Building a bridge, or a railway, I imagine.

Martin Wright
Martin Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  danhobbins6

Correct Dan. He was just a soldier, a Gunner to be precise, who went where he was ordered to go (just in case anyone wants to stick a “white imperialist” label on him). Certainly the Japanese had no more right to be there.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Mendez

Fighting the Japanese would be my guess.

Michael Scanlon
Michael Scanlon
3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Mendez

Being a slave to the Japanese, as already explained

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Wright

At least the Japanese were suitably chastised with two rather large bombs.
That brought them heel in no uncertain terms.

Sheryl Rhodes
Sheryl Rhodes
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

The entire Western world made a critical error when the relentless advance of far-Left dogma was allowed to continue through the university, and then subsequently to all education and other institutions. You can almost distill the birth of the damage to one point: when the word “racism” was re-defined to mean only “power plus prejudice” instead of the commonly understood meaning of ill treatment or opinion of another based on their race. Our institutions now all consider racism to mean systemic racism, an omni-present (and usually invisible) structure which benefits oppressor classes of people literally every minute of every day regardless of their individual actions and attitudes. “We” should never have let that pass. “They” had no right to stealthily re-define this important concept and subsume the word racism. If they wanted to advance their radical theories concerning systemic racism, they should have invented their own damn term!

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago
Reply to  Sheryl Rhodes

Indeed. They have achieved the remarkable feat of making racism both the most heinous crime possible and one that everybody white is guilty of, by association if not directly. This means there can be no avoidance, no innocence and no redemption. The only possible way forward is submission.
Somehow, this has mostly been driven by middle class whites. Having bought into the idea, they perpetuate and worsen it in an attempt to escape the guilt loop by transferring blame to others less woke.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

If you’re not woke, you’re deplorable. Flagellate yourself lest you be flagellated.

Gudrun Smith
Gudrun Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

I clearly recall as a child “No Irish,No Blacks,No Dogs”signage widely displayed in Islington,London.Well before Tony Blair obs.

Ned Costello
Ned Costello
3 years ago
Reply to  Gudrun Smith

Do you? And how old are you then?

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ned Costello

In my early 20’s (1976 ish) I distinctly recall seeing a sign on a pub door in Derby stating : No Irish, No gypsies.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

A good article Douglas, but you have missed out a few examples. The Greeks had slaves an so did the Romans. Can we repatriations form them? Should we have free oil from the Arabs?
I would be satisfied with a Ferrari from the Italians!
In other words the past the whole world dealt in slaves, and the first empire to use its power to curtail slavery was the British Empire.
The world has another reason to thank the British, our industrial revolution which has transformed the life of most people in the world. The fact that a machine can do the work of many slaves, has also contributed to the decline in slavery.
As the BLM seem very keen on repatriation, could we not donate to them a plane ticket to Africa?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

“The world has another reason to thank the British, our industrial revolution which has transformed the life of most people in the world.”
I would technically disagree- the life really improves after the 2nd stage of industrial revolution (automotive, chemical, pharma, electric) pioneered by Ger/USA.
To be pedantically correct (hockey curve growth) it begins with Renaissance in Italy and the birth of modern finance.
And you can not ask Italians for a Ferrari since they did bring civilization to your savage ancestors (baths, roads, latin script and all that).

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The baths and roads vanished after the Romans left or rather were allowed to fall into ruin and building materials were robbed. Latin survived and flourished for several hundred years, mainly due to the Church.

Iain Muir
Iain Muir
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So anywhere but Britain, then?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Iain Muir

Did I say that?

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Basically that is what you implied.

As to who started the industrial revolution, it would be silly to think that it happened in isolation from knowledge already known.
But if you look at the start of the industrial revolution, then Britain was definitely at the front – try visiting Iron Bridge. That other people copied and, indeed, surpassed Britain misses the point.
As to the reason why Britain was first, we could discuss this for ages and never come to a definite conclusion.
I will throw in a few: England was a united country, but decentralised, had a parliament with no absolute monarchy. Wealth was more evenly distributed (in the sense that the nobles did not have it all). This allowed people of moderate wealth to experiment with new ideas.
Low taxation meant that the successful people kept their money – making the risk worth the effort.
I am sorry to see that you do not think I am entitled to a Ferrari, but on the other hand, I am glad that you think the British Empire was good as it did bring roads, baths etc. to many people.

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Is that why places not civilised by the Romans, like Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, are still populated by savages?

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Johnson

Funny also how the Romans brought civilisation to savage ancestors, while the British only oppressed people.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Johnson

Those countries imported civilization (through Christianity).

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

What did the Romans ever do for Britain?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

LOL

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Sewage system,Roads for fast travel ,Town living as opposed to village ..You;re right ”They did sod all”.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

“the life really improves after the 2nd stage of industrial revolution”(sic).

I would disagree, the railways for example brought enormous benefits to many, and without them there would not have been a “2nd stage”. For the first time in history we were able to plunder the planet, literally on an industrial scale.

You overplay the role of Renaissance Italy. The Classical World had a vastly superior financial system, capable of transforming much of the known world. Just look what it did for barbaric little Britannia for example.

Sadly there is virtually no discernible link between the modern Italians and the Ancient Romans. They may inhabit the same peninsula, but the Italian is the antithesis of the Roman, as their pathetic conduct in both WW2 and Ethiopia so embarrassingly proved.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

People high on the excitement of recently-acquired knowledge have in recent weeks often trotted out the claim that Britain only finished paying off slave-owners in the last decade … the critics present it as though this debt was a demonstration of support for the trade,

Having started reading Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book I am not surprised by this interpretation of history. Her whole first chapter is a myopic canter through 300 years of history, focusing mainly on grievances associated with black Britons.

It’s like opposites day throughout; we learn that Britain was racist for using commonwealth soldiers (of colour) in support roles rather than on the front lines “doing drudgework for the benefit of white soldiers.” When they do get moved to the front, that was also an act of racism as they were sent to die. Later on Britain was to show its true racism by not having discriminatory laws against people based on race, because that made it easier to hide the systemic racism (!!). With a straight face she directly contrasts actual racial discrimination (Jim Crow) in the US with an absence of discrimination as being worse.

Bonkers. But in this context, and given the popularity of the book, I am not surprised that people would be committing doublethink on these issues.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

That reflects DiAngelo’s kafkatrap in ‘White Fragility’ where there is only one possible outcome: you accept you are a racist, which means you are a racist, or you deny it, which proves you are a racist.

Mark M
Mark M
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Just throw them in a pond and see if they float. If so, then they are racist so burn them. If not….well, never mind.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark M

A tried and tested method!

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark M

Who are you so wise in the ways of science?

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

A good counter argument to DiAngelo and her proposition is that everyone is a Trump supporter, and if they deny it, it only proves their Trump-supporting fragility and that they’re a Trump supporter who can’t admit it…..(wait for the gnashing of teeth….)

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yes the writer James Lindsay put it in a simple way – i think this example is in one of the founding books in the field.

You’re a shopkeeper and two customers enter the store. One is black and one is white. If you serve the white person first – you are racist because you’re picking them first. If you serve the black person first, you are racist because you don’t trust the black person unsupervised in the shop.

It’s mental. Any semblance of logic is gone, not to mention the oblique racism of assuming that someone served the black person first because they would be assumed to be unsupervised therefore untrustworthy (!!!). As I say, opposites time

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I haven’t read the book. But your telling of it is mirrored in recent vox pops on TV in UK, at least.
i.e. ‘ The Police don’t interact with us the same as whites. So they must be institutionally racist ‘ Followed by. ‘ We’re a different culture so Police need to take that into account when interacting with us. ‘
Or. ‘ The statues should be smashed but we’re not doing anything wrong, it’s a peaceful protest. ‘ Followed by. ‘ Them white folks defending the statues are racists and they only came here to cause trouble. Theirs is not a lawful protest. ‘
Wanting your cake and eating it is a universal condition and given that, why are we letting anyone of any stripe get away with this nonsense?

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago

Indeed. Real justice is the process of righting wrongs, and that is largely what has happened at all levels of society with regard to racial justice, despite what BLM propaganda says. That process and progress and its legacy for this generation IS reparations in that the descendants of slavery are born into a world radically transformed from what their ancestors faced. To demand reparations at this point is actually on behalf of the slaves who really deserved it upon achieving freedom. For them it would have been literal and necessary for actual survival and the chance to prosper. Today reparations would be merely symbolic, a token. Far better to apply resources to the ongoing betterment of the structures that give everyone equal opportunity and the chance to prosper.

Paul Wright
Paul Wright
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Girling

You could also make the point that to be born in the USA of today, and not Africa, is a sort of recompense in itself.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

An excellent riposte to all this BLM nonsense Mr Murray, well done and thank you.
Incidentally that Algerian raid on Baltimore, Co Cork, in 1631, was not led by Sinbad & Co, but by a renegade Dutchman! He had previously been, enslaved, converted to Islam and became a Barbary Pirate.
He must have made pretty profit on that ‘trip’, as the price fetched by milk white Irish bodies, red hair etc must have been enormous. One can almost see the crowd salivating in the sweaty, fetid, Algiers slave souk.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The abductees were mostly of English descent. Baltimore was a colony.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Yes, a colony of Dissenters I believe.
So perhaps I should substitute blonde for red hair?
Either way when they were packed off to harem it won’t have made much difference to their new career.

As for the children, who I gather were numerous, the ugly ones were no doubt worked to death, whilst the pretty ones could look forward to a lifetime of ‘botty banditry’ as catamites.

Considering the behaviour of the English over the previous eighty years, perhaps it was Divine justice.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
3 years ago

indeed. I’m outraged that Italians came to my country in 55 BC, stayed 400 years changed the language, ruined our culture, enslaved people, visited abhorrent violence on the populace and introduced the disgusting practice of public gladiatorial spectacles. This was followed by invasions, colonisations and similar behaviour by various Scandinavians, Germanic peoples and latterly the French. The desolation and cultural vandalism which took place defies belief. I demand reparations from all those countries.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Edwards

Hang on, firstly they were Romans, with little or no links to the modern Italians, which I would have thought was blindingly obvious.

Secondly, besides the horrors you mentioned, they did bring, Peace, Law and Order, Cities, Public Baths, Wine, Hydro Engineering, Theatre, Circuses (for Chariot Racing), Medicine. Politics,
Literature, new foods and flora and fauna and the concept that life was for enjoyment or as they put it “Occ est vivere”.

That epic film ‘ The Life of Brian’ brilliantly shows this when some cretin says “What did the Romans ever do for us”. But I have a suspicion you may have seen that?

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

They also killed the Druid leaders, which probably provoked the Iceni tribe at least to take revenge, burn down Colchester, leading to a battle in which the Iceni were pretty much slaughtered. (It was Professor Neil Oliver who made that connection)
It wasn’t all roses and hot baths.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

I think you may have missed the point?
I was replying to the light hearted banter of Steve Edwards post, in a similar vein.

I don’t think long suffering UnHerd readers wish for a didactic account of Gaius Seutonius Paulinus and the Druids do you?

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Well I’m enjoying it. Sort of.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

But it cost. And Rome probably didn’t have to pay the cost.
The same argument could probably be made about British colonialism.
I believe that Egypt’s first railway was built to assist in the relief of General Gordon at Khartoum for example. It cost that country nothing. We paid to do it.
It doesn’t make us virtuous but such self paying activity in the countries of others was common because times had changed under later colonialism.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

Actually it did cost the ‘Legatus Augusti’ (Governor) his job.
The new ‘Procurator Augusti’ (CFO), the splendidly named Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus, sent an unfavourable report to Nero about the cost, and Gaius Seutonius Paulinus was ” on his bike ” as we say.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Gaius Seutonius Paulinus, you say? Didn’t he win the yellow jersey in last year’s Tour de France ?

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I have indeed Mark, some rate it the funniest film ever. Your arguments have no validity in the face of victimhood. By the way, the Germans bombed our chippy too!

alancoles10
alancoles10
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

He was being satirical

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

I gathered that, as I would have thought my reply to L Smedley, two hours ago would have shown.

stgerje
stgerje
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What have the Romans ever done for us?

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  stgerje

Everything!

Stephen Lloyd
Stephen Lloyd
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Edwards

Er… changed WHICH language? The Britons (ancestors of the Welsh) took quite a few words from Latin, but that doesn’t constitute “changing the language.” As for “ruined our culture”, this is a typo, surely? It should be “gave us some of their superior culture.”

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Lloyd

The British Iron Age culture was well advanced for the time.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago

Not fair. Look up Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth. In 1816, he led an Anglo-Dutch fleet against the Barbary states. Victory at the Bombardment of Algiers secured the release of the 1,200 Christian slaves in the city.
We should campaign for his statue to stand on the vacant plinth in Trafalgar square.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Quite true, and also Mr Hopp skilfully avoided mentioning the First Barbary War 1801-5 where the US Navy carelessly ‘lost’ its Mediterranean flagship USS Philadelphia, in Tripoli harbour.

A harbinger of worse to come in the War of 1812, but that is another story.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Also not fair. The Americans succeeded splendidly in the second Barbary War. Stephen Decatur became known as the ‘conqueror of the Barbary pirates.’
Pellew and Decatur both deserve much praise.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

I’m not denying Decatur his due, but in the spirit of fair play stating that first American effort was a monumental balls up! Surely you don’t deny that?

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes, fair enough.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

The hurried BEF involvement was political as a follow-up to the failure to be able to support Poland. We jumped to help out Europe’s largest standing army if memory serves.
Would doing nothing have been a greater failing?
In context. How many slaves did both Germany and their original allies The Soviet Union use and/or work to death in less than 6 years?
This was in recent living memory. So by comparison, half of the European continent should, it being recent, be up in arms and screaming at those nations.
I don’t advocate that, you understand. So why is something that even my Great Grandfather didn’t do, being blamed on me?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

“..half of the European continent should”
Some do, led by the British who endlessly bang on about WW2!

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But you see, keeping something relevant such as the first one and it’s destruction, post war of Germany, one can see how the second one came about.
Sounds like you’re across the pond from me. I often trip over the American Civil War. The Alamo. Etc. in documentary or movie form. So who else does this?
If you read some commentators here, they have a wide experience and opinion.I doubt that many obsess over wars their granddad’s fought. But if it comes up, they know a bit. And they will write a bit.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

So, your relatives Never suffered in a war? Lucky you.9
Dad. Aden. Cyprus. Cold War Germany. Grandad. North Africa. Sicily. Italy. Monte Casino. Great grandad, the first one. Many infamous battles.
Some people recall because their loved ones did it. And they knew them. When millions of people do that, it might well seem like someone’s always talking about it but it’s hardly one person’s obsession.
I don’t bang on about it but much like the passing of my mother, I like to remember them from time to time. You know like we promised them, that at the going down of the sun, we would.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

British remained in hoc until very recently. They, free of charge, placed a massive standing army in Europe and had responsibility in Japan for over half a century too. When did the Brits lead claims for compo from anyone?
The British even doubted the sense of the punitive action in search of compo’ taken by much of Europe against the Germans and their allies after the 1st World War. The punishment that allowed the Charlie Chaplin lookalike to kill millions.
I might just add that PBS America does a fair bit of banging on too.
However, I guess you had to have a dad or grandad doing it to show sympathy or interest. Did anyone you knew, fight?

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

The very word ‘Slave’ is derived from ‘Slav’ i.e, people of eastern Europe who were taken by the Muslims of Spain in the 9th C.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

Given the accusations mirror was it Marx? ‘ behind every great fortune is a crime ‘. Then pretty soon the likes of Jeff Bezos are going to need some big help.
He’s already guilty of cultural misappropriation what with his company’s name and all.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

It’s a crazy world.. If you ever read The Last Tommy. He worked for AEG a German company. When he broke his apprenticeship because he joined up to fight Germans, they paid him to train. He woke one morning in a trench after fighting off numerous attacks to find that he’d slept on a stick grenade made by AEG.
I heard no anger or recriminations in his writing. Nor did he demand compensation from anyone. And things actually happened to him.
The same is true of so many others who suffered the consequences of the choices of others in many different endeavours. Who is standing up and screaming for all of them?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes you correct there! But I take your point, and thus the real victors were the French in 1830, the rest of ‘us’ just chastised the place from time to time.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

The barbary piracy really ended once French occupied North Africa and tried (semi-failed?) to civilize the camel jockeys.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I would also tip my hat to Stephen Decatur for actions at Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Thanks. I knew about Decatur, and have already referred to him on this page.

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
3 years ago

We all exist atop a pyramid of our own history with every act of every forebear forming part of the structure back in time. This metaphorical pyramid is immutable. We are each at the top of a very particular pyramid for reasons beyond our own control which is why the “sins of the father” should not be visited on the sons. Our pyramids will form the lower layers of our future offspring’s pyramids and those future building blocks are the actions we take in our own lives. This is where the meaningfulness in our lives is recorded.

Life is competitive with winners and losers in all dimensions of it. Currently the losers are trying a new ploy to become the winners, and we cant blame them for that. However, this does not mean we have to give in , or stop fighting to win ourselves.

Today the “others” may be radical lefties, the EU, a self identified racial grouping, the Chinese, a virus, a business competitor, tomorrow they will be something else. The race never ends.

Kathryn Richards
Kathryn Richards
3 years ago

Well Put.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago

The phrase. ‘ We stand on the shoulders of giants. ‘ Should include. ‘ And some right b@stardz. ‘
Neither point of view makes me responsible for their triumphs or their deviltry.

Simon Giora
Simon Giora
3 years ago

Excellent essay, Douglas. Those seeking reparations should also consider from whom they should seek payment. The overwhelming majority of black African slaves were captured and sold by black Africans.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

If the left want to give reparations, then they should invest in the Bengali farming sector. They could actually do alot of good there.

Why don’t rich lefties give their money away by investing in non-European businesses? Then they can say it’s reparations. They, really, honestly, genuinely, could do good whilst indulging their vanity.

Where are the lefty reparations givers? Where are they?

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

Always someone else’s money.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

Always, always, always.

Craig Musgrove
Craig Musgrove
3 years ago

Those that are only interested in power cannot portray the historical truth as it has consequences in diluting the narrow message that has been recently created with which they are trying lever us apart. Of course, the MSM, Corporate’s and illiberal undemorcratic elites are every ready to support the BLM narrative and cancel culture because a ‘state of fear’ is the only way they see us controlled. A populous, demos united actually terrifies those mentioned above. People may think BLM/cancel culture charge is a way of uniting us but it’s such a regressive step that serves only to shackle our thinking/freedoms by denying us historical perspective and truth. So they fan the flames, war of resentment, politics of grievance which they need to give themselves even more power to control the people.

alancoles10
alancoles10
3 years ago
Reply to  Craig Musgrove

Totally agree ,they tried it with Brexit

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

Over 16M voted to remain in EU, that is hardly the “elite”…unless you are going to change the definition of the elite!

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But they think of themselves as the elite. Will that do?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Do they?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

The french, naively, invaded the wastes of North Africa in the mistaken belief that a dose of republican education would turn the local savages away from their brutality, piracy, slave-owning and love of Jizya but a thousand years of Allah had made that impossible.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

True, but imagine how much worst would Maghreb be without the European (french) cultural influence.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Would anyone care if they were just fouling their own nest.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

What is really instructive, if things ever ‘quieten’ down, is to visit the ruined Roman cities of say, Timgad, and Djemila (Algeria) and Lepcis Magna and Sabratha (Libya).

The level of sophistication of these, and many other cities in the same area, is truly remarkable. They also clearly illustrate what an absolute disaster the ‘arrival’ of Islam represented.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

No, but as you know they do migrate and before that they were heavily involved in piracy.
Can’t run away from the savages.

David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Need to bring back St Augustine’s teaching to Africa.
He had rather more humour and self-deprecation than his replacement Mohammed.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

If you referred to Mahommed as “Old Mo” or similar it would be made very clear that it is offensive. Nobody is asking you to believe in Christianity but a bit of respect for those who do might be in order.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

You ignore someone’s culture, they moan. You address it in the vernacular and they moan.
‘Old Mo’ is no less worse to me than a millenial failing to punctuate at least most of the time. Even if they get it wrong as I am won’t to do. An error is better than an omission in my book and valid corrections only really come from understanding error. Omission gives nothing exemplarary to attempt valid correction.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  titan0

I think I misunderstood part of your post, apologies.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

I think you replied to Sydney Falco above. I need no apologies. I do agree with your comment but I would see being respectful in context. Being non religious, I still would not be blasphemous in a holy place for example.

t.kember1
t.kember1
3 years ago

I have a Huguenot surname therefore can I claim compensation from the French Government for forcing one of my ancestors out of France with thousands of other Huguenots?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 years ago
Reply to  t.kember1

Moi aussi….then add in my grandmother who had to flee Latvia in 1916, and as a political refugee had the family’s property (a potato mill & farm) confiscated by the Russians.

Jojo
Jojo
3 years ago

I wonder whether there is anyone alive who has no genetic makeup from some slave at some time in the distant past.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago

White slavery is still a problem, just look at the number of prosecutions in the UK where the Police have rescued white British slaves from various groups. As for the Moor’s, my wife was snatched as a child in Morocco in the early 70’s, white skinned and blond, worth a small fortune, if it wasn’t for the ‘pocket pit-bull’ (her mother) pursuing the snatcher and hand bagging him…

CJ Bloom
CJ Bloom
3 years ago

An all-too-rare voice of reason in a debate that this historian generally finds reprehensibly ignorant.

Keith Payne
Keith Payne
3 years ago

Historically slaves have been used in most parts of the globe at one time or another; Africa is no exception where there has been a slave trade for millennia. Indeed a good sprinkling of today’s African aristocracy gained their wealth by selling slaves to the Europeans.

I think the continual protesting about past slavery wrongs does no favours to black people as it is a symbol of victimhood. African is still in the grip of its colonial past, kept in debt by the likes of the IMF and World Bank, grossly exploited by western companies [and more recently Chinese] and cynically kept in states of widespread corruption and disorder.

Stop sitting on Africa and allow it to gain some collective self respect and then I think the lot of the western black diaspora will also improve.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
3 years ago
Reply to  Keith Payne

African countries gained their independence decades ago. Many countries have been in the grip of their own despots since and despite being rich in various precious minerals and stones have been unable or unwilling to exploit them for the benefit of their people.
Now China is filling the gap left by Europeans.

Iain Muir
Iain Muir
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

“Now China is filling the gap left by Europeans.”

Yes. It should be interesting to see how that pans out.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Iain Muir

Very unpleasantly I should think, having recently returned from Ethiopia.
Most of Africa will rue the day that Caruthers & Co left and the Club closed. They are about to be “harvested” by the Chinese.

liamfriedland
liamfriedland
3 years ago

What about reparations for genocide? Is that not an even more atrocious act?

Germans –> Jews, Poles, etc
European Americans –> Native Americans
Turks –> Armenians
Etc…

Attempting to undo (or beg pardon for) the past by making direct payments to descendants is a fool’s errand. Where does it end?

What about instead investing and working in the here and now to build a more economically, socially, and racially just and balanced society?

Perhaps this is also a fool’s errand, but isn’t this exactly what some of our most respected contemporary leaders (ML King, and N Mandela come to mind) have attempted?

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago

“the way in which more than one generation have been educated to believe
that only their countries ever behaved reprehensibly in history”

This is the crux of the matter – the reason why the US is deemed a uniquely evil place for its history of slavery is that it’s a liberal society in which people are free to make that claim. The truth of the claim is immaterial – it can be made, discussed, analysed and developed because the right to speak freely is what the US is all about.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago

Douglas, as a point of information, the American Civil War was started over taxation. It was almost 2 years after the secessions that Lincoln raised the slavery issue as a war tactic. In so doing, he added a resentment factor (in both North and South) that contributed to a further century of oppression for American blacks.

The crisis of 1860-61 was in many ways a reprise of the crisis of 1832, but this time the Feds refused to back down from imposing the tax.

As you said, Britain indebted itself in the 1830s to buy freedom for the slaves in the empire – an astonishing achievement accomplished peacefully.

I find it puzzling that American abolitionists did not push for the British solution. It was as if they preferred idealogical “purity” to practical emancipation. In that, there may be a connection between the impractical moral posturing of American abolitionists and the present day Woke support for the BLM riots.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

not sure where you get those facts from. The crisis in the USA over slavery had been brewing ever since the foundation of the Union. To remove slavery required an amendment to the constitution which needed 2/3 support in Congress and the Senate and 75% ratification by the individual states. While there were equal numbers of slave and free-soil states then there was no chance of achieving this but by the 1850s Slavers had run out of road. The areas west of the Mississippi to the west coast would never be suitable for plantation agriculture, homesteading was the way forward and the slave states were trying to prevent the US from creating new states in these areas. Lincoln’s Party, the republicans, didn’t run on a platform of abolishing slavery but did not see why this should hamper the western expansion of the US. As soon as Lincoln was elected the southern States seceded so Lincoln took the civil war, initially as a war to preserve the union.

After the war was over Lincoln did think of a plan of borrowing money to compensate the slave owners and re-settle the slaves. This would have meant, of course, that the Capital invested in Slaves would have stayed in the US. British slavery in the Caribbean the Capital had already been drained even before abolition. The money borrowed simply further enriched people who had already become rich at the expense of slaves

David Morrey
David Morrey
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

The singular cause of the American Civil War is a recurring debate. The most coherent explanation I can make of it is a clash of states rights against the powers of the federal government. Secession had been threatened by various states at various times in the preceding 40 or so years (including by several northern states when they didn’t get their way on particular issues). The immediate catalyst for the Civil War were tariff changes which raised costs for agricultural (mainly southern) states while reducing them for more industrialised (northern) states. But I don’t think there is any doubt that the fundamental / ideological long term disagreement which inspired secession by the south was slavery.

Of course that disagreement needs to be put into historical context too – leaders in the southern states wished to retain slavery; leaders in the northern states (including and very vocally Abraham Lincoln) wished to abolish slavery, compensate slave owners and deport freed slaves back to Africa in their entirety. Which of course makes those who fought to end slavery, yes, including those in Britain during the 19th century, insufficiently woke to garner any sympathy from modern audiences. They were not perfect, our ancestors.

Not woke.

But they did actually do something. Here in Britain, and in America. They fought, and in many cases gave their own lives, to try and end slavery. And largely succeeded. When we reflect on our ancestors that is something to be proud of, surely? And I know this isn’t about whataboutery, but please tell me what other country or culture has done more to end slavery? Or even come close. Not least as Britain and America haven’t just done it once – with the arrival of the second world war, they went out and did it again.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Before the war, slavery was a proxy issue for the worry that the northern industrial states would dominate the South. Naturally, slavery was important to the elites in the slave states – because they owned slaves and had a hige amount of financial capital tied up in slaves. Non slave owners (the majority) would not have cared.

Most people, today, do not appreciate the degree to which the financial system was tied up in slavery. The slaves were collateral for loans that provided working liquidity. When you factor in the cost of liquidity, you will probably find that the chief beneficiaries of the system were the bankers. It is hard to see that the plantation owners themselves were any better off owning slaves over hiring them for a wage.

General abolition was always going to need a way to reset the financial system (i.e. compensation to clear the loans). In the British case, the compensation records show quite a wide spread of people with an ownership interest in slaves. The compensation liquidity found its way into industrial revolution projects such as the railways.

When it comes to the secessions, you have to ask the question: what was so urgent about Lincoln’s election that the secessions began immediately, months before his inauguration? It can’t have been slavey because Lincoln had pledged not to interfere. During the appeasement negotiations, Lincoln was even prepared to back a slavery freezing amendment to the constitution. However Lincoln had also pledged to sign the tariff act. Lincoln refused to back down on the tax (and signing it was pretty much his first act as president).

Why was preserving the Union so important to Lincoln? Imagine what would have happened if Charleston, say, were a tariff-free port. Even good destined for the north would have been diverted from New York and Boston etc. to Charleston. From there they would have been smuggled north. So not only would the tax revenues be gone, but the tax burdened northern ports would have been devastated. That is why the first shots were at Fort Sumpter (which could have blockaded Charleston harbour).

The tax as the proximate cause of the war is the inescapable conclusion.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

Southern Democrats Wanted Slavery to Continue after the Civil war 1861-65…..Lincoln Abolished Slavery with 13th amendment as featured in Spielberg’s ”Lincoln”. Uk supported The Confederacy to protect Manchester woollen industry,Hence the founder of The ”Guardian” Supported Slavery,The Confederacy ,John Edward Taylor, funny no one Wants to Cancel,the ailing ”Guardian” 80,000 copies per day,Mainly subsidised by Bill Gates Globalist Foundation.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

As always. Follow the money! Who benefits?
It’s the best place to start any investigation.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
3 years ago
Reply to  David Barnett

I disagree with that interpretation.

As for urgency, the perspective of leaders of the Confederate States was that stopping the spread of slavery into western federal territories (which had not yet organized as states) would guarantee that free states were a permanent and growing political majority. That shift in political power would in turn would put slavery on a path to eventual extinction. The Republican Party was committed to this policy of stopping the spread of slavery. That would undo a series of compromises, going back to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had sought to keep a balance of power in the Senate by having roughly equal numbers of free states and slave states.

Lincoln’s election as a regional presidential candidate sealed this conviction. He was a President whose Republican party had essentially zero presence in the core slaveholding states. He didn’t even have a slate of presidential electors – the equivalent at the time of appearing on the ballot – in 10 southern states.

As additional evidence that the issue of tariffs wasn’t decisive, the Democratic Party split into nominating two candidates in the 1860 presidential election – a Northern candidate (Douglas) and Southern Candidate (Breckinridge) despite broad agreement on the issue of tariffs. The short-lived Free Soil Party had essentially merged into the newly-formed Republican Party in 1854 despite the Free Soil Party platform having a low-tariff position that was counter to the Republican platform on that issue.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Tagge

Your final paragraph actually supports my position that tariffs were the proximate cause of the secessions. I am not trying to deny the importance of the slavery issue – especially to the slave-owning elites who dominated the political establishment of the south.

The split in the Democratic ticket (essentially on slavery lines) is what allowed the high tariff Republicans to triumph. But why were the southerners not appeased by the strong moves to reassure them on the slavery issue (including a proposed slavery freezing constitutional amendment)? The slavery issue was was going to grumble away, but there was no immediate threat – quite the opposite.

As for Lincoln, why not allow the secessions? That surely would solve the slavery problem for the north.The controversial Fugitive Slave Act could be repealed. If slavery were the primary issue for Lincoln – good riddance to the Carolinas et al.!

Of course, Lincoln knew that his high tariff policy would be unsustainable, if the south were allowed to have free ports. The northern ports like New York would be devastated as trade diverted to ports like Charleston. And smuggling from south to north would be uncontrollable. That is why Lincoln was prepared to fight a devastating (and unpopular) war to recapture the south.

It is no accident that the first military clash was the expulsion of the Federal customs garrison from Fort Sumpter, which could have blockaded Charleston harbour.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Nothing quite so ridiculously and depressingly illustrates this absurdity as having recently heard David Olusoga, a highly gifted and hugely informative ‘black’ (who in their right mind effing cares what his skin tone is quite frankly) BBC TV presenter and historian whom I have enjoyed watching tremendously and almost without fail over the years incidentally, bemoan how wretched he felt whilst making a film he was advising on depicting slavery recently.

The source of his anguish?

The, one might assume naturally, numerous ‘extras’ who were forced to queue and eat in separate spaces from the main cast.

The problem?

The ‘extras’ were, presumably due to the specific script, in roles representing slaves and were predominantly ‘black’ whilst the main cast (again presumably due to the specific story being told) representing slave owners were, horror of horrors, predominantly ‘white’.

This glaring example of ‘apartheid’, which basically is the norm across ‘the business that is show’ regardless of skin colour, and is obviously based on an established pecking order, and has been forever thus, apparently was but one of the things that helped to throw Mr Olusoga into a profound clinical depression.

I was left wondering quite how depressed he might have felt, or indeed possibly does feel when the same ‘apartheid’ is applied on many a film set, regardless of race, and whether he feels quite the same level of disgust when a lowly ‘white’ runner is last in the queue for outside catering’s most humblest of humble offerings?

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

My brother is currently enslaved as an extra in movies made in Hollywood North, ie. Vancouver, Canada. He too tells of this ‘apartheid’. On set he is not allowed to speak unless spoken to and not allowed to look main cast members in the eye. And the catering is noticeably inferior. Sounds a lot like slavery to me. He is, however, thrilled when he gets to sidle up to the likes of Sandra Bullock or send out a selfie of himself wearing the uniform of a Nazi general or outlandish makeup. The whole experience allows him to keep busy in his retirement. I presume he is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

titan0
titan0
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Ditto. Same gut wrench. I wonder who was first to the chow during Arthur Hailey’s Roots?
Would likely have sickened me in the same way, what with me being whitenall, to have had to watch all those brilliant black actors getting fed before the white extras.
But to point that out is probably a micro aggression and totally invalid.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

My response to your post has been stuck in Pending limbo for two days now for some reason. I think it might’ve been a little too sardonic.

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago

I would gladly pay my tax money in reparations if it would guarantee that Afua Hirsch would shut up. But it won’t, so I think we should do the sensible thing and ignore what is basically a shake-down.

Gudrun Smith
Gudrun Smith
3 years ago

Thanks for an interesting article and some uncommon sense in a Bonkers world!

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

I wonder how much those calling for reparations would be prepared to pay? A one off tax on everyone should bring about a long period of reflection

titan0
titan0
3 years ago

Well I’ll take a few quid. The state since Norman times has been poking my Irish ancestors. That’s for about twice as long as anyone else so let’s double it shall we?
But apart from acknowledging it all, I’m cool. No really I am. I’d love to be able to ensure the ‘peace’ endures but I’m no Tony Blair.

roger wilson
roger wilson
3 years ago

I’ve read quite a lot of stuff by Coates. He’s very engaging, he writes lucidly and with great passion, he’s engaging and can be quite funny.

But he’s a complete charlatan

michaelcrowley1
michaelcrowley1
3 years ago

Wonderful article. You lay out your case so reasonably.

Mark St Giles
Mark St Giles
3 years ago

If every nation in history that had committed crimes against people were required to compensate the victims of every other nation, it would end as a zero sum game by netting off every debt against the others. Then we could all forget about it and get on with trying to make the world a better place where everyone of every colour and creed could be given a good chance to flourish.