Friday, 24 August 2007

Slavery Apologies

Honestly, I don't know about you guys, but this new wave of apologists is really raising my hackles.

To put it simply, why should I apologise for something an ancestor - and not even an ancestor we can be certain is mine - took part in the slave trade?

Yes, it was horrible and ruined many lives.
Yes, it was a crime against humanity.
Yes, I'm sure many, many, slaves descendants still feel horrified.

But I did not take part in the trade. Not a single living person, today, took part in the trade of black people from Africa to the America's, the UK or any other country. To act as if I or anyone else did, is morally wrong.

The act of getting down on bent knee to apologise for something that happened generations ago is arrogance of the worst sort - it smacks of ego fluffing.

Instead of standing in front of a crowd, apologising for his ancestors wrongs, such people as Ken Livingstone, (as seen in today's Daily Mail) should be standing up and apologising for the atrocities currently going on under their noses. Not crying crocodile tears, in full view of photographers and cameras, seemingly crying out 'Vote for me! I feel your pain!'

Is he going to stand up and apologise for the hundreds of thousands of women, brought into the country under false pretences and forced to work as sex slaves?

Is he - or indeed anyone - going to stand up and apologise to the families of those killed or maimed in the various terrorists bombings, for failing to bring his own Government to justice over the fact?

Is he going to stand up and apologise to the hundreds of people, freely discriminated against, for whatever reason, day in and day out, in his 'fair city'?

Of course he isn't - none of those things will get him the vote.

And to add to this - I notice the way those who advocate this 'apologising for the slave trade' movement, conveniently forget that Africans had their part in the process. Of course, a lot of slaves were taken by white traders, of course. But that doesn't mean they were taken by only white traders.

People seem to forget that the various inter-tribal wars had a part in the trade. Prisoners of war were often sold to the white traders - as were any caught non-tribe members and even actual family members.

But I don't see any of the descendants still in Africa now, bending on their knees and apologising for what their ancestors did - or apologising for what is still going on in Africa, even now.

Either way, there are far too many black people, right now, using the excuse of their family history, to explain away their actions, or inaction.

'I'm descended from slaves - this makes me feel angry - that anger is what leads to my antisocial behaviour!'

I'm sorry, but what? In this same vein, I could murder/drink-drive/be generally anti-social and then excuse it by saying:

'My people were raped, pillaged and murdered - it makes me angry!'

I am a direct descendant of the Viking settlers.

Oh, is that too far in the past? OK, how about:

'My people were ostracised, kicked out of their homes, prejudiced against and often beaten or murdered - this makes me angry!'

I am also a direct descendant of the Gypsy travelers in Ireland. That's far closer to now, than even the slave trade. Do you think I could get away with it?*

It just makes me wonder whether people are going to learn from the past, or simply dredge it up when they need the votes. Either way, I am sick of hearing about these apologies. Instead of apologising, do something pro-bloody-active, for the here and now.

H

* I think I read a similar argument against the casual use of 'my ancestors were slaves' excuse. Can't remember where though. All I know, is that it states my case far more eloquently. If you happen to find it, send me the link so I can reference it here.

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