Should we apologise for Slavery

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by BigHorn, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    It is 200 years since the abolition of slavery this year and there have been calls for a formal UK apology which will no doubt spawn claims for compensation.

    No doubt everybody here disagrees with slavery and regrets that it ever happened. But, as nobody currently alive took part in it and nobody currently alive suffered it, should we really be beating ourselves up over it?

    MISS PITCH Member

  3. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    No. What good does apologising for something we had no control over? I'm still waiting for the French to apologise for 1066.
  4. Hornblower RN

    Hornblower RN Member

    Or the Spanish in 1588.....mind you they got a hiding didn't they :clap: :D
  5. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    1066! What about 1966, when the French disqualified the Mini Cooper for having the 'wrong' headlights after it won the Monte Carlo Rally!

  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I don't really see the point in all these retrospective apologies, as it is unlikely to make any difference to the people involved. If it were to be linked with some form of reparation, as with, for example, those held prisoner duing the war, that would be rather different.

    Also, if we are to apologise, what about the Africans who were ready to sell their fellows into slavery in the first place, and the others involved in the slave trade, such as the Moors and other Arab groups?
  7. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    They did? Why didn't we declare war on them immediately? :eek:
    Cheese eating surrender monkeys!:rolleyes:
  8. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I think it is far more important that we put right the wrongs of today than apologise for something our predecessors were responsible for. The saddest thing about this is really that we haven't learned anything. We'll probably be doing the same kinds of things in another 200 years - only more efficiently.

    How about stopping the sale of arms and military hardware to regimes that hold their own citizens in contempt? What about spending some money on putting right modern day slavery? Instead of standing by and wringing our hands like Uriah Heap shouldn't we actually get up and do something - as a nation?

  9. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Quite. There is enough wrong with the country and the world now that we should be worrying about. And it would be nice for a change if we could tackle the problems in that order - get ourselves sorted before interfering with others?

    Of course abolishing the slave trade was a good thing. But we should not forget that slavery had driven the 'capitalist' economies of the world for thousands of years up until that point. It wasn't something Britain invented. It was simply the way life was. Let's also not forget we actually took the lead in abolishing slavery under law.

    As for calls for financial reparations, I also think that is way out of order. 1) How do you put financial values on what may or may not have happened? 2) Who should it be paid to? 3) Who is it going to be paid by?!

    By all means we should take this as an opportunity to reflect and consider our own lives (both individually and collectively). But beating ourselves up about something that happened so long ago is just ridiculous.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2007
  10. brianatb

    brianatb Member

    No.If somebody can tell me why i should appologise,then i will.(it must be a convincing reason) I'm waiting in anticipation
  11. Alisop

    Alisop Member

    You should appologise for not knowing when to use the space bar on your computer! ;)
  12. euphojim

    euphojim Member

    There are far more recent events that the Government would be better apologising for. Maybe in 200 years we will have an apology for those too.
  13. brianatb

    brianatb Member

  14. yonhee

    yonhee Active Member

    We had someone talking about that at our speech day on friday. I don't see the point in apologising for it as it was abolished 200 years ago. It isn't going to undo what was done then so it won't be helping anyone.
  15. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    Are the Germans going to apologise when it is 200 years after the Holocaust?
  16. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    The reason I started this thread was that I took exception to some black activist lady on tv who implied that somehow as a white british guy I shouldered some rsponsibility for the actions of my fore-fathers.
    Now, like most people, I don't appreciate being accused of something I didn't do.
    When I thought more deeply I realised that my family were not impicated either. My family have researched their family tree and I come very humble stock. My forebears were poor, local farm hands and local stocking knitters - nothing to do with the slave trade at all. One side of my family were Quakers who were well known to be vehemently anti-slavery. Therefore I have nothing to apologise for at all.
    I then turned my thoughts to this lady's family. As we all know slave women were often abused by the slave owners and gang masters. It is well known that all West indians and African Americans have the genes of those that abused their ancestors.
    So I thought it is a bit hypocritical to accuse me of being responsible just because I'm white. Most white people's families were not implicated at all, wheareas almost every black person's forefathers were.

    I have no problem with Tony Blair or the Church of England saying that as a Nation that Britain regrets its small participation in this age old trade. But he should also say that Britain is very proud of the fact that they abolished it and used their Naval power to enforce the ban on other nations doing it.
  17. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Three objections:

    1: It was never simply evil white people picking on defenceless black people. The slave trade was conducted with the knowledge and approval of many African kings, especially in what is now Nigeria. Plus there were intermediaries and traders who were African, Arab, Moorish and many other races. To claim that one race or nation now owes another an apology for the whole trade is to oversimplify the history of the slave trade to an almost insulting degree.

    2: Genetic studies have proved that there are plenty of white British people who are distantly descended from African slaves, and plenty of black West Indians and Africans who are descended from Europeans, Asians, or Moors. So even if you could prove that white Europeans were wholly responsible for the trade 200 years ago, after 2 centuries of immigration, emigration and interbreeding and marriage, who now owes an apology to whom?

    3: My family history has been done relatively accurately for the last few hundred years, and mostly we were country farmers, peasants and servants. How exactly am I responsible for the undoubted iniquities of the slave trade? Only 60 years ago, my nan was "in service" in a big country house in North Wales and conditions for many household maids in that era were often only marginally better than slavery - yet nobody has offered my family an apology. So any apology will not be in my name, thank you very much.

    In any case, there are plenty of other groups that the British Government genuinely does owe an apology to. The Kurds of Northern Iraq, for instance, or the Marsh Arabs, or the Bosnian Muslims.
  18. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    They already have, on a number of occassions, and I believe they have also made financial reparations.
  19. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I'm still waiting for the Russians to apologise to Scotland for 1966 too!!!! :)
  20. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    Anno Draconis is right -

    3 or 4 generations back, my ascendants too, were in a similar situation - "In service"

    As for - should you, me or others say sorry

    ... I wasn't there! (Were you?)

    - and if we weren't there - doesn't apologising just continue all this pretending stuff about who we are not... (Like we are still wearing The uniform!)

    ??? > Seen the Harry Enfield sketch about the German in England - always saying sorry for the conduct of his country during the war?

    Do we expect a German visitor to really say zis in 2007?