Monday, 24 March 2008

The myths behind white guilt

Part 1: The slave trade

One of the many weapons which our opponents use against us, and also against others of European ancestry, is often termed historical white guilt. Those who hate us point accusingly to our Empire, and to our involvement in the transatlantic slave trade with the implication that we, particularly the British and European Americans, are uniquely guilty of crimes against other races. They believe that, by making us feel guilty about our past, we will be less inclined to object to what is done to us on behalf of our alleged victims.

However, as in so many areas, the truth does not suit their agenda, so, as ever, they resort to their favoured tactic, and lie with the ease and practiced familiarity of an ageing harlot unzipping her client's pants.

In our schools and on our television screens, they teach an entirely false and misleading version of history, and sadly it is one which at least two generations of our children now accept as unquestioned fact. Our empire, the greatest the world has ever known, and something I plan to focus on in a later post, is presented as being a cruel and oppressive force which was primarily concerned with plundering other nations and exploiting their peoples.

The story they tell us about the slave trade is also a lie, it is a lie which they use primarily against Britain and America and it is upon that lie which I will focus in this post.

The lies and myths about slavery are told with the same cynicism as those who voted to ban hunting with hounds in the pretence that they were motivated by animal welfare concerns. So intent are they in presenting slavery as a white against black crime that they actively seek to play down the fact that an estimated 27 million people are living in various forms of slavery right now in the 21st Century, more than twice the number transported to America during the total transatlantic slave trade with the effect that less is done than otherwise would be to help those currently in slavery but are an embarrassment over which a politically correct veil must be drawn.

Moreover they, our enemies, also misrepresent the truth about historical slavery. Transatlantic slavery did not exist in a vacuum, the slave trade was not invented by Americans or Europeans. Slavery had been part of the human condition since the earliest civilisations, look to the Torah, the Old Testament and the Koran, all of which have copious references to slavery written, a millennium or more before America was discovered and whilst the most Europeans lived in tribes and wore woad.

The historical revisionists of the left keep trying to tell us that cradle of civilisation was in North Africa, but they forget to mention that, if it was, it was built by slaves.

Even during the few centuries in which Europe and America were involved in slavery, we were not even the main players. Slavery was being carried out throughout the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The African, Arab and Asian involvement in slavery existed long before the transatlantic slave trade, and continued well after abolition, and involved far greater numbers of people.

A wrong is a wrong whoever commits it, and it is inequitable, and arguably racist, to hold one group more accountable than another on the grounds of pigmentation. I am not stating these facts in order to excuse the transatlantic slave trade, but merely to set it in context, and in perspective. You can not single out one or two nations for unique condemnation, when, in truth they merely, and briefly, got involved in what almost everyone else was doing, and which other nations had been doing for thousands of years.

This is particularly inequitable given that, in 1807, Britain was one of the fist nations on planet earth to abolish the slave trade and then through her Empire brought about the abolition of slavery across a quarter of the earth's surface a mere 26 years later. (a stunning achievement given that the British Empire included many lands where slavery had been a fact of life for thousands of years, and that this huge task was achieved in an age before aeroplanes, helicopters and satellite communications.)

Furthermore throughout most of the 19th Century the Royal Navy was actively involved in combating the slave trade as perpetrated by other nations by so doing we enforced abolition well beyond our own dominions.

Indeed British and other European colonialism itself, far from oppressing our subject nations, played a pivotal role in freeing them from the threat of being captured by Arab slavers, castrated (unlike in America, there are few descendants of those enslaved by Islam) and shipped to Arabia to be worked to death.

If you look to the history of Eastern Africa in the 19th Century, Britain was the major force in ending the Arab slave trade from places like Uganda, Northern Kenya and Zanzibar. We are repeatedly reminded of the slave caves around the coast of Western Africa, used by transatlantic slave traders, however there are similar caves on the east of Africa from whence the cargo travelled north and east, over far more centuries and in far greater numbers.

Another point supporting the fact that European colonialism brought about the end of slavery is that the only African country where it was still legal to own slaves well into the 1920's was Ethiopia, one of the only African nations which was never colonised and even then it was only abolished in order to gain Ethiopia access to the League of Nations.

On the other side of the Atlantic, also in 1807, the US Congress banned the importation of slaves and, 54 years later, well over half a million young, white, Americans died in a war fought partly in order to free the slaves. I am aware of no similar gesture on the part of those Arab, Asian and African states which had owned and traded in slaves for millennia before Britain's comparatively brief, three hundred year, involvement, including those, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Oman and Mauritania, which didn't get around to banning slavery until 100 years after the American Civil war (and where some would say forms of slavery continue to this day) or in Mauritania which only imposed a ban last year or Sudan where slavery allegedly still exists.

How odd that we don't hear calls for reparations from those countries where slaves were openly owned within living memory. Of course, silly me, they are not white European nations and can't be held responsible for what they do.

That said, I personally see no justification in holding current generations of Arabs or Africans responsible for the acts of earlier generations (even though those were quite recent generations) Guilt dies with the guilty, inherited or racial guilt is an abstract and unsupportable concept, which is, at its heart racist. However, it is a guilt which we in Europe and North America are expected to carry and acknowledge, despite the fact that the guilt of our forefathers is so much less than the guilt of others and that we have done so much more than others to right a universal wrong.

The staggeringly important fact about the slave trade is not that Britain and America joined in for a while, it is that we, and we alone brought it to an end.

Instead of suffering white guilt over slavery, by comparison with many other nations, we British and our US cousins, have a great deal to be proud of.


Anonymous said...

Just to add more fodder to your argument, why is there so little historical information on WHITE slaves brought to the North American colonies?

A short excerpt can be read HERE

Also, let's not overlook WHITE slavery that overtook Europeans along the Barbary Coast HERE

Anonymous said...

Do you have much information about colonisation and the effects on those nations?

Sarah Maid of Albion said...

Part 2 of this series looks at the Empire

Anonymous said...

Your starter for ten.

Dahomey, now Benin, was set up by slavers. What continent is it on?