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March 12, 2007

Keeping a perspective

A big issue currently exercising the minds of the evangelically inclined and liberal members of the Church of England is the two hundredth anniversary of the prohibition of the carriage of slaves in British Ships. It took another thirty years for the owning of slaves to be outlawed in the British Colonies and a further thirty before this happened in the Southern States of the USA. In Spanish, Portugese and Arab controlled countries it continued for some time longer. In fact, in some Arab countries it continues still, although now disguised and even in Europe it has re-emerged in a different and possibly more pernicious form.

Several things make my blood boil whenever this issue is raised in any forum run by the evangelical liberals now organising a "March of Witness on Parliament", mostly the fact that they conveniently ignore a number of important facts in apportioning blame for this evil trade. One in particular got me going yesterday and several people got savaged by this impenitent Monk as a result.

I took exception to the description of the 18th Century Royal Navy as existing only to protect the British interests in the Slave Trade. Their contribution to the freedom exercised by every single Briton today means nothing - they existed only to protect the slave traders according to one speaker. The many thousands who died suppressing it - some of whom lie forgotten and neglected in Port Royal, Jamaica - are now seen as "oppressors" and "slavers". The fact that they suppressed the horrendous piracy in the Caribbean driving such luminaries and "freedom fighters" as Henry Morgan (whose amusement included betting on whether a near term pregnant slave was carrying a boy or a girl and then cutting her open to see which!), Blackbeard Edward Teach and many other equally psycopathic murderers from the seas, is now a worthless effort designed only to protect the slavers. I'm afraid a large group got a history lesson that pinned their ears back - and they are now in no doubt of my opinion of such revisionist history!

Secondly they are celebrating an event which, for all its good intentions, was so badly managed that it has locked certain nations and peoples into poverty for the last two hundred years and very probably for at least that long again for the future. All very well telling people one morning - congratulations, you're now free, please vacate the slave quarters immediately and by the way, you haven't got a job, an income or the means to support yourself, but what were the consequences? Great planning, and even greater idiocy was to think it could all work itself out! OK, so the Bishop of Exeter got a thousand pounds in compensation for the slaves he owned. What did the freed slaves get? Just a lot of grief and hardship by the look of it - and once again it was idiots like the group that annoyed me yesterday who "planned" the whole thing and actually thought they had done a good job! In one country alone three hundred thousand ex-slaves were out on the street without the means to support themselves. Is it any wonder that their nation now has the highest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere?

But another aspect which really annoys me about this is that, in focussing on the African Slave trade, this group have ignored the fact that right into the early part of the 19th Century Barbary corsairs regularly raided Cornwall and North and South Devon and even south west Ireland to carry off slaves to North Africa. The Royal Navy spent an inordinate amount of time pursuing them and trying to suppress this, but, with a world wide conflict in progress against Napoleon (in defence of our "slave trade" of course!) they were pretty stretched! And, Cornwall, Devon and Ireland were far enough away from the London Coffee Houses and the anti-slavery league that they could conveniently ignore the misery of our own people suffering in this way. The southern French coast, Italy, Sicily and Spain all suffered these raids as well - but I hear not one word of condemnation from our present crew of blame the "British Empire" pundits. Again they ignore completely the fact that it was the Royal Navy that suppressed this in Algiers in 1836 and freed literally thgousands of European slaves from there! But that doesn't fit the picture os us as nasty slave owning oppressors does it? Nor, it must be said, have I heard anything at all from this same bunch of whimps and intellectual cowards, about the fact that Christian boys and girls in the Sudan are regularly seized - usually on the pretext that their parents are debtors or rebels - and sold into slavery serving Muslim masters and families. They are not recognised by the UN and the rest of our Western revisionists as slaves for two reasons - they are Christian (and therefore oppressors!) and their Masters are those nice cuddly Muslims - whose religion condones slavery.

One of yesterdays statements which really got me going was "the Royal Navy regularly sent ships up the rivers to collect slaves for the slave traders!" Like hell they did, they were sent up the rivers yes, but to suppress the tribal wars which were feeding slaves to the coast and the various "factories" on the coast. Again the idiot making this statement had no knowledge of the Ashanti Kingdom's part in this or of the Barbary pirates and their raids into Cornwall and the rest! He even tried to say I was making it up. Well, he has now seen the error of that little exercise, since he got presented with my sources!

Why should we grovel and apologise for the actions of our forebears? It was a different age and a different understanding, I do not approve of it, and I certainly will not tolerate it in so far as it lies in my power to prevent it, but I see no reason to tell me to apologise for something my forebears actually gave their lives suppressing! If we want to extend that a bit further, will the Spanish apologise for the many British seamen that died chained to the oars of their galleys? Will the Irish apologise for the slaves they seized in Roman Britain (including Saint Patrick, seized from his family home - quite possibly on the Severn estuary?), will the Welsh? OK, so the "English" - that peculiar mixture of Celt, Pict, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Dane that currently inhabit "England", finally bit back - and generally did it better than anyone else. It is neither right nor proper for any man to enslave another, whatever his colour or race. But, let us keep a perspective. The English never sent armies to Africa to collect slaves, they bought them from local chieftains, much easier and much more commercially efficient.

Yes, we played a major role in the slave trade, but I have to ask myself why it is that there is this group in Britain who feel it was all our fault. That we were, and are, the only peoples who must "apologise" for it. Could it be because they represent groups who want to try and milk us for compensation? I am very much of the opinion that that is the underlying motive - and it is as immoral as the apologists version of our history! Our forebears certainly did transport a large number of people across the Atlantic, but why can we not keep the perspective and acknowledge the fact that the Spanish, Portugese, Dutch and French all shipped even larger numbers across the ocean and from even further abroad. Why are they not being told to apologise? And why should the present generation apologise at all?

I feel very strongly that this is simply a distraction. Britain played the most prominent part - and its Armed Forces are the instrument of Westminster, not an independent money maker - in putting an end to this trade in the west. It has never been completely supppressed in Africa and has re-emerged in modern times mainly in the Middle and Far East. If we feel so strongly about it, focus on those still practicing this evil trade - and suppress it. Don't sit here wringing your hands and blaming this generation for the sins of the past! And don't start arguing that the British Armed Forces existed to support and promote it. That is a canard of the highest order and an insult to the many thousands of men who were sacrificed by the do-goody stay at home feel-goody factions that still infest Westminster and Whitehall - and expect everyone else to pay the price.

Grow up, get your history straight and stop trying to pin guilt on those who can no more change the past than you can!

Posted by The Gray Monk at March 12, 2007 07:49 AM

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