Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

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Fishnut
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Fishnut » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:28 am

kerrya1 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:36 am
Edinburgh professor renews call to reword history on a statue memorialising man who prolonged the slave trade

I found this article interesting. I doubt many people who come to, or live in, Edinburgh even look up at the statue on top of the column in St Andrew's Sq and I know very few who could tell you who was up there. Nevertheless this is still a very prominent statue to a man who not only profitted from but fought to maintain slavery against abolition.

A follow-up with a response from a Dundas decendent
That story sounds so similar to the Bristol experience, particularly,
A committee of historians, including Sir Geoff, is currently locked in an acrimonious dispute about what should be said on the plaque, which was expected to be installed on the monument about two years ago by the council.
It's a shame he's at the top of such a tall column otherwise I'd encourage the people of Edinburgh to follow Bristol's lead.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by kerrya1 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:38 am

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:28 am
kerrya1 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:36 am
Edinburgh professor renews call to reword history on a statue memorialising man who prolonged the slave trade

I found this article interesting. I doubt many people who come to, or live in, Edinburgh even look up at the statue on top of the column in St Andrew's Sq and I know very few who could tell you who was up there. Nevertheless this is still a very prominent statue to a man who not only profitted from but fought to maintain slavery against abolition.

A follow-up with a response from a Dundas decendent
That story sounds so similar to the Bristol experience, particularly,
A committee of historians, including Sir Geoff, is currently locked in an acrimonious dispute about what should be said on the plaque, which was expected to be installed on the monument about two years ago by the council.
It's a shame he's at the top of such a tall column otherwise I'd encourage the people of Edinburgh to follow Bristol's lead.
I think they should take him down and replace him with the James Clerk Maxwell statue which currently sits on George Street facing away from St Andrew's Square. Image

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:42 am

tom p wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:40 am
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:35 pm
Yeah, f.ck statues.
On a related note, there used to be blokes who would do just that (it's called pygmalionism). It used to be a big problem for museums. Then sex dolls became a thing and museum guards and cleaners no longer had to deal with the consequences of this.
Hahaha thank you for this fact. I can't imagine being horny enough to try and shag a statue, even in the extremes of deprivation, but I guess we've all made questionable decisions at some point.

A friend of mine nearly got thrown out of the Ashmolean for comparing his cock with that of an ancient Roman statue. During a fairly posh after-hours dinner party. There I was minding my ps and qs because I didn't have proper evening wear and this guy felt comfortable enough to get his nob out. That's class privilege, I guess.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:16 am

I think a lot of the sentiment about removing statues is people imagining that had they been there long ago they would have done something. They're re-running an old battle because that's a lot easier than fighting a real battle today.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by bjn » Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:43 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:16 am
I think a lot of the sentiment about removing statues is people imagining that had they been there long ago they would have done something. They're re-running an old battle because that's a lot easier than fighting a real battle today.
In the case of a person who would have been enslaved, I rather imagine that they would have done something in an attempt not to be enslaved or resist enslavement. Haiti and countless other slave revolts stand as examples. They also seem to be the people who are most involved in fighting today’s battles. Same argument for other victims of colonialism.

Or are only white folks worthy of your musings?

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by EACLucifer » Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:48 am

bjn wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:43 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:16 am
I think a lot of the sentiment about removing statues is people imagining that had they been there long ago they would have done something. They're re-running an old battle because that's a lot easier than fighting a real battle today.
In the case of a person who would have been enslaved, I rather imagine that they would have done something in an attempt not to be enslaved or resist enslavement. Haiti and countless other slave revolts stand as examples. They also seem to be the people who are most involved in fighting today’s battles. Same argument for other victims of colonialism.

Or are only white folks worthy of your musings?
I've seen the video of Colston coming down from several angles. I estimated hundreds present. Two BAME people visible. Rest white, generally young, overwhelmingly male.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by discovolante » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:00 am

BTW just because I have seen it used a fair bit recently (across several threads) I don't think BAME is particularly liked as a term despite it being used in official circles.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:39 pm

Given the problems with racial injustice in the judicial system it seems entirely sensible for white allies to volunteer for the prominently illegal stuff. This is the same kind of logic that puts cis hetero antifa guys at the front of pride parades and stuff.

I've certainly seen loads of black and brown folks in favour of bringing down racist statues - IIRC the most prominent spokespeople for the original Rhodes Must Fall protests at Oxford were black students. Funnily enough they got less, and less sympathetic, attention than the recent (masked and socially distant) protests full of white people.

On the other hand, I do actually agree with Millennie Al that there's a danger a lot of newcomers will co-opt the anti-racist movement that's been ticking along with less publicity for ages, and start pushing it towards feel-good lower-priority stuff like statues and voting. It's certainly hard to get the balance between being a vocal ally and drowning out marginalised voices.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by EACLucifer » Wed Jun 10, 2020 5:44 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:39 pm
Funnily enough they got less, and less sympathetic, attention than the recent (masked and socially distant) protests full of white people.
Every time you've claimed a protest has been socially distant, the pictures have shown otherwise. I suggest before doing so again, you either actually check a few pictures of the event, or look up what social distancing actually entails. If people are close enough they can reach out and touch each other, they are not even close to socially distant.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by purplehaze » Wed Jun 10, 2020 6:04 pm

Since this is mainly about statues I'll put this here:
purplehaze wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:17 pm
A person who misses the point of Orwell's 1984

https://twitter.com/BenGoldsmith/status ... 4365148160

Someone clearly doesn't understand Orwell's 1984.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:43 am

I keep seeing (white) Americans on the internet saying things like "but white people also abolished slavery" and "but the blacks were sold into slavery by their own kind!!1"

I like to think that Britain can at least do a bit better than that. I've been disappointed a lot recently.

My mum the other day said that prejudice against the police is as bad as racism. Not quite the same thing, but the same way of thinking about stuff. Which makes me wonder what are the best cognitive approaches for helping people realise the more nuanced reality of Britain's history.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:54 am

bjn wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 7:43 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 3:16 am
I think a lot of the sentiment about removing statues is people imagining that had they been there long ago they would have done something. They're re-running an old battle because that's a lot easier than fighting a real battle today.
In the case of a person who would have been enslaved, I rather imagine that they would have done something in an attempt not to be enslaved or resist enslavement. Haiti and countless other slave revolts stand as examples.
I'm sure they would. Quite obviously, it was rarely successful.
They also seem to be the people who are most involved in fighting today’s battles. Same argument for other victims of colonialism.
The people today were most certainly not enslaved by Colston, nor were they ever in danger of it as he died in 1721. It is possible that a few descendants of his slaves were involved, but since his business was shipping slaves and not importing them into England, it cannot be very many as the vast majority of their descendants would be in America or other slave destinations.

The last colony to leave British soverignty was Hong Kong, and you won't find many Hong Kong people in Britain protesting about being victims of colonialism.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:04 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:43 am
I keep seeing (white) Americans on the internet saying things like "but white people also abolished slavery"
It's a bit ironic Americans saying that, considering they hung on to slavery after the British Empire abolished it and later some of them fought a civil war to keep it. Plus, of course, the abolition was not just a white thing - many black people were involved too, campaigning long before the American civil war.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:43 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:54 am
The people today were most certainly not enslaved by Colston, nor were they ever in danger of it as he died in 1721. It is possible that a few descendants of his slaves were involved, but since his business was shipping slaves and not importing them into England, it cannot be very many as the vast majority of their descendants would be in America or other slave destinations.
Colston shipped people to the Caribbean. The same Caribbean that was the source of the Windrush generation. The same Windrush generation that settled in cities including Bristol.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by lpm » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:49 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:54 am

In the case of a person who would have been enslaved, I rather imagine that they would have done something in an attempt not to be enslaved or resist enslavement. Haiti and countless other slave revolts stand as examples.
I'm sure they would. Quite obviously, it was rarely successful.
There were many more revolts than generally thought and many were successful.

The Americas were "discovered" in 1492. Slavery in the Americas began in 1493. Rebellions and escapees created entire towns and nations like the Cimarrons, often at war with neighbouring Spanish controlled regions. Not a history we're taught, but there are famous battles, conscription of men to fight slave states where they all die of disease before getting to the frontline, a series of awful massacres, full-on international peace treaties. One outcome was the huge genetic mixing - Spanish/Portuguese white, native American, many separate African races.

In North America there's an endless list of revolts and murders of owners. White militias were assembled to fight, non-rebelling slaves were sometimes pre-emptively hanged. Whites often lived in terror. Arguably, a factor on the Civil War outcome was the constant fear of an uprising behind their lines.

Ship mutinies are another entire category, many successful.

History is written not only by the winners, but by those who can write. Slave rebellions and the subsequent cultures they created never really made the history books, but are being pieced together by historians now.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by nekomatic » Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:03 am

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:28 am
It's a shame he's at the top of such a tall column otherwise I'd encourage the people of Edinburgh to follow Bristol's lead.
They could always follow Dublin’s lead.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by kerrya1 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:02 am

nekomatic wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 8:03 am
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:28 am
It's a shame he's at the top of such a tall column otherwise I'd encourage the people of Edinburgh to follow Bristol's lead.
They could always follow Dublin’s lead.
I've been thinking about this a lot and I've decided we should leave him up there and instead turn the garden surrounding the column into a memorial to the victims of Scotland's involvment in the slave trade. It's not a huge piece of land but I think there is plenty of space for suitable memorials and explantory information. they could even turn the Costa coffee place in the garden into an education centre focusing on Scotland's part in the UK's colonial past. Taking down a statue is the act of a moment but building a space where we can teach people about our country's problematic legacy and fully accept where much of Scotland's wealth originated would, I think, have far more lasting value.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by murmur » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:41 am

Just in case anyone's not seen it, here's a good piece from today's Graun by Dalrymple.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by bjn » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:12 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:54 am

The last colony to leave British soverignty was Hong Kong, and you won't find many Hong Kong people in Britain protesting about being victims of colonialism.
Exception that proves the rule. Ask the Maori, Native Australians, First Nations in Canada and the USA what they think of colonialism.

There's a reason I have you on ignore, I wont look at or respond to your wittering again.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by tom p » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:34 pm

murmur wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:41 am
Just in case anyone's not seen it, here's a good piece from today's Graun by Dalrymple.
It is a very good piece

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by gosling » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:15 pm

Is there a danger that we spend all our energy arguing about statues and history, so that we fail to address current issues?

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 pm

gosling wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:15 pm
Is there a danger that we spend all our energy arguing about statues and history, so that we fail to address current issues?
It's not uncommon for a fairly low-stakes symbolic act to capture the public imagination and drown out more important stuff.

To give an example from a totally different area, Blue Planet II and other campaigners managed to get marine plastic pollution into the spotlight. It very quickly became "plastic straws are bad", a bunch of places in rich countries swapped to paper straws, and the difficult conversations about how to deal with waste-management in developing countries and the marine sector (responsible for almost all marine plastic waste) hasn't really happened. The use of plastic straws in most of the west is an irrelevance because they don't end up in the sea anyway.

That said, understanding history is key to understanding the present, and setting the current struggle in its correct context. I think the focus should be on redressing the balance about Britain's global role in spreading colonialism, imperialism, slavery and white supremacy, at which point the side issue of which statues are up because a bit clearer because we're no longer arguing about whether or not so-and-so was a c.nt.
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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by Fishnut » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:50 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 pm
gosling wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:15 pm
Is there a danger that we spend all our energy arguing about statues and history, so that we fail to address current issues?
It's not uncommon for a fairly low-stakes symbolic act to capture the public imagination and drown out more important stuff.

To give an example from a totally different area, Blue Planet II and other campaigners managed to get marine plastic pollution into the spotlight. It very quickly became "plastic straws are bad", a bunch of places in rich countries swapped to paper straws, and the difficult conversations about how to deal with waste-management in developing countries and the marine sector (responsible for almost all marine plastic waste) hasn't really happened. The use of plastic straws in most of the west is an irrelevance because they don't end up in the sea anyway.

That said, understanding history is key to understanding the present, and setting the current struggle in its correct context. I think the focus should be on redressing the balance about Britain's global role in spreading colonialism, imperialism, slavery and white supremacy, at which point the side issue of which statues are up because a bit clearer because we're no longer arguing about whether or not so-and-so was a c.nt.
Oh god, don't get me started on the straws. FISHING NETS are the big problem. Don't degrade, ghost-fish for f.cking decades, get dumped overboard if they break or just get cut loose if they snag. But let's not tackle the fishing industry (which is a law unto itself in so many ways anyway), let's go after plastic f.cking straws :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Anyways...

back to the point. I do think that we could end up in a situation where people think that the statues are all down now, so that's the problem fixed, but I am hopeful that we won't. For one thing the outrage over the removals is spurring people to explain all the f.cking awful things the people represented did and that inevitably leads to thoughts like "hmm, Clive of India, turns out he was a bit of a sh.t, and so were all the blokes around him, maybe our time in India weren't the halycon days we've been sold".

As an minor anecdote, I had an email from my old school today admitting that the curriculum in my time wasn't very good at covering anything other than the dominant white narrative but they're already working to improve it and will continue to work on it. They even covered the Bristol Bus Boycotts which is quite impressive (god, what a low bar I have for impressive in this context).

The risk raised above is real and I think it's therefore incumbent on all of us who think the broader issues should be the focus, not whether or not a particular statue comes down, to ensure that those issues don't get forgotten.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by gosling » Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:58 pm

I hope you're both right .... I'm seeing a lot of pushback already from the usual suspects on my FB feed.

Re: plastics. My brother's former employers made a big thing about going plastic free. This involved ditching their mineral water supplier (sourced from 20 miles away) and getting canned water transported from Austria instead.

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Re: Coming to Terms With Britain's Past

Post by bjn » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:39 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:28 pm
gosling wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:15 pm
Is there a danger that we spend all our energy arguing about statues and history, so that we fail to address current issues?
It's not uncommon for a fairly low-stakes symbolic act to capture the public imagination and drown out more important stuff.

To give an example from a totally different area, Blue Planet II and other campaigners managed to get marine plastic pollution into the spotlight. It very quickly became "plastic straws are bad", a bunch of places in rich countries swapped to paper straws, and the difficult conversations about how to deal with waste-management in developing countries and the marine sector (responsible for almost all marine plastic waste) hasn't really happened. The use of plastic straws in most of the west is an irrelevance because they don't end up in the sea anyway.

That said, understanding history is key to understanding the present, and setting the current struggle in its correct context. I think the focus should be on redressing the balance about Britain's global role in spreading colonialism, imperialism, slavery and white supremacy, at which point the side issue of which statues are up because a bit clearer because we're no longer arguing about whether or not so-and-so was a c.nt.
Yep, the statue thing can be a bit of a diversion against concrete action, but that doesn't necessarily mean the most egregious examples should not be removed. At the very least a huge sign saying "XXX was a complete a..eh.le because YYY", especially for cases where they were thought complete a..eholes at the time (eg: Clive).

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