The problem in my view is that some white folk who learned about all the evil stuff that, for example, the British ruling class did around the world until we all gradually woke up to the fact that it was not sustainable, they think that the onus is on them to redress the balance in some way.
To an extent we did redress the balance – we have given a lot back to the descendents of the folk who had a rough deal before, both in terms of historical reparations and also by inviting many of them to join us as equal beneficiaries of whatever these things are supposed to have given our country. But anyway often it was because of their own leaders that they had a rough deal. We didn’t go chasing slaves in the jungle, we simply bought them in the port from those African leaders that we were trading with, and those guys had only kept their defeated enemies alive so that they could trade them as slaves with us. Once you get into individual details things are not necessarily as cut and dried as people could imagine – for every noble Kunte Kinte you might discover someone much less noble, someone whose most apt description sounds similar to that old fictional African only without one vowel.
I personally don’t come from the ruling class – in all the lines of genealogy I am able to trace I come to miners, before the industrial revolution simple farmers, and on some cases naval people. There is only one line with “blue blood” but it is not legitimate, so I have no claim to be an Earl of Warwick even though I am probably a distant genetic cousin of the earls of Warwick.
As far as the working class of England was concerned, we didn’t get an easier time really because of the things that our elites were doing elsewhere in the world. We were in many cases treated worse than slaves, because a slave is property whereas when a miner keeled over with lung disease the master of the mine called out for the next desparate man in the queue to work in the mine. And such was the lot, I fondly imagine, of some of my ancestors.
On that basis, I should be getting reparations from the Third World at the rate of one Mango a month in perpetuity plus the occasional sexual favour from one of those black ladies you see on all the music videos, which I will pass on anyway in the interests of my family and my soul. But anyway that’s nothing to what I’m owed by the Queen of Denmark for excesses perpetrated during the Viking invasions.
So in short, even though I can say that it was shameful it’s not MY shame that the British, for example, tried to make China a drug addicted slave colony and then smuggled out their tea plants to mass plantations in India and decided we didn’t need the Chinese so much any more, at least we gave back Hong Kong honorably. Certain others didn’t give back Vladivostok, ceded at the same Peking Convention, because they are not leveraged by the same soft conscience that seems to weigh us down. But it’s not MY shame that “we” had a past with China that isn’t glorious but it isn’t MY cost that “we” gave back Hong Kong (I didn’t own any of it anyway) and it isn’t MY pride that “we” gave it back – nobody asked for my opinion about it, they just did it on my behalf and on the behalves (?) of another 58 million entirely unconsulted British people.
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53 year old accountant who loves languages, literature, history, religion, politics, internet, vlogging and blogging and lively written discussion. Conservative Christian, married to an angel, we have three kids, and live in Warsaw, Poland.
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