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SO VERY SORRY……?

By ATWadmin On November 17th, 2006

Did you read that Tony Blair is planning a "status-enhancing" apology for Britain’s role in the slave trade, 200 years after it was abolished? Apparently Blair believes that a FULSOME grovelling apology will help "mend fences" with those African Nations angered at the UK role in removing the tyrant Saddam in Iraq.

I can of course FULLY understand why many African Nations would be enraged at the sight of a dictator like Saddam being forcefully excised from power. I mean, that sets a dangerous precedent for the thugs and petty tyrants that exercise political control right across Africa.

Then there is the awkward fact that the vast majority of Africanswere sold into slavery by African leaders of the time. So perhaps Africans need to be issuing an apology to the rest of the world for its own disgraceful behaviour? And NOT just at the time, since slavery is STILL MANIFEST in Africa – with Mauritania and Sudan leading the way in such deplorable practises. (Don’t worry – the UN and the political left keep quiet about that)

Finally, and most profoundly, no one alive today had ANY role in the Slave Trade from hundreds of years ago. So on whose behalf is Blair apologising? I’ll tell you – his own. He’s doing a Bill Clinton – tremblin’ bottom-lip and all. He’s trying to shore up his legacy at all costs and if that means a bit of politically correct right-on grovelling – fine.

34 Responses to “SO VERY SORRY……?”

  1. Well, two wrongs don’t make a right. If you buy a child prostitute, you are not innocent simply because someone else sold them to you. The same would apply to the purchase of slaves. It is not as if the African leaders of whom you speak sought the slaves’ consent to do so.

    It is very likely that all those who participated in the Armenian holocaust are dead. Should Turkey be allowed to forget about it?

  2. Hugh,

    On whose behalf is he apologising?

  3. How should I know? Blair claims to do most things on behalf of the ‘nation’, like invade Iraq and slap ASBOs on poor people. So maybe it’s those people in the British ‘nation’ who have inherited the fruits of slave labour.

  4. Its probably worth pointing out that Britain played a key role in dismantling the slave trade. Consequently (and combined with the fact no-one alive now benefitted from slavery) as a Nation I don’t think we have anything to apologise for.

    Hugh
    Your Armenian example is interesting but I think not transferable – most particularly because the Turks as a nation have never even acknowleged the genocide occurred. No one in the UK would deny slavery happened.

  5. David, Andy,
    do you think Willie Brandt, or any other modern German leader, was right to kneel in contrition before the Jewish ghetto memorial in Warsaw?

  6. This is no more than parsimonious, patronising grandstanding, by everyone’s favourite non-entity.

    Just who is he supposed to be apologising to? he doesn’t even have a major African constituency to influence at election time. At least Clinton had that excuse!

    "So maybe it’s those people in the British ‘nation’ who have inherited the fruits of slave labour."

    Yeah! Including all those immigrants of African extraction that we have accommodated in the meantime.

    We have probably helped far more Africans than ever suffered from slavery. Surely such positive actions speak louder than any ‘phony Tony’ apology…

    He really is the king of the empty gesture.

  7. Cunningham,

    I think that the Holocaust as an event, was far more specific, and recent, than ‘slavery’ which occured over a far longer period of time.

    The Holocaust was also very single minded in exterminating people, and the perpetrators were an easily identifiable group.

    Slavers were more interested in keeping people alive, especially as they were considered a ‘commodity’. I know that doesn’t make it right, but I don’t think it is quite the same class of barbarity as genocide.

    Talking of which, how are the current African leaders doing on that front. As a group, they are in a class of their own when it comes to genocide. …and you still think it right that Blair should apologise?

  8. Seriously agree with you EY. I think years ago, Africans were offered the chance of repatriation by US…needless to say no one took up the offer. It’s history let it go –

  9. Why single out Britain for Opprobrium Cunningham? Why not single out the people who started the transatlantic slave trade ? Spain and Portugal with the blessing of the Vatican …..

  10. This apology just demonstrates what an utter ignoramus Blair is. It is not as if the nation had been under the impression that slavery was just swell for the last two hundred years and only now with the benefit of his wisdom that we realise it was wrong. The public acknowledgement of the evil of slavery occured in the 18th and 18th century when the practice was progressively outlawed first in Britain then the empire and ultimately in other nations for whose action Britain had no responsibility but forced to desist anyway.

  11. I agree with everything Ernest says about the comparision between the Holocaust and the slave trade (and, MR, I didn’t single out, or even mention, Britain).

    I was just asking about the general question of whether a nation can have collective "pride" in or "responsibility" for its past actions. I believe it can.
    David and Andy probably believe it can’t. In any case, all of their arguments against this apology by Blair could also be used to condemn Brandt for apologising for the Holocaust.

  12. How to embarass middle-class black africans:

    Apologise for the slave trade.

    I remember George Bush causing huge embarassment I think it was at a summit at the African Union or something by making a sort of apology for the slave trade,

  13. Cunningham,

    "all of their arguments against this apology by Blair could also be used to condemn Brandt for apologising for the Holocaust."

    Not if you are a realist. Brandt, and many others still around today, were all part and parcel of the German nation, at the time of the Holocaust. Now whether they active participants or not, is not really material, they were there at the time it happened, and as such, should feel ashamed, if not guilty, that it happened. They were of that generation, not seperated from the event by five or six generations…

    If one can feel collective pride, in the acchievements of their generation e.g. in sporting achievement, then one can feel collective shame, in the misdeeds of their generation, e.g. as in the Holocaust.

    I personally feel Blair and Brown owe me an apology, after all they stole my pension and have committed a virtual genocide of the English as a nation…now that would be an apology to wish for! 🙂

  14. Of course if Blair had been around in 1807 he wouldn’t have abolished the slave trade because he would be too busy apologising for the witch trials that occurred two hundred years previously.

  15. Cunningham
    Hi – in terms of a specific answer to your comparison Ernest has come up with a more eloquent response than I probably could have.
    In terms of the general question about a collective shame of a nation (or indeed collective pride). I’d have to say I do believe in it as a concept. I also believe it loses relevance over time though.
    As an admittedly arbitrary cut-off point, how about one hundred years?
    As a caveat to that I would probably say acknowledging a wrong should be performed regardless of the time limit.
    To use Hugh’s Armenia analogy – the Turks should at some point at least acknowledge the wrong of the Armenian genocide, even after all the Turks who were alive at the point have died (which I presume is pretty much the case now).

  16. Thomas Sowell has written a lot against the reparations mob, on the basis that there is no one left alive who was either a slave or a slave owner, which is the key factor.

    I think Andy’s on to something with national pride / guilt. With regard to slavery, we hear plenty about the guilt, but nothing about the pride we should feel as British for putting a stop to it, and enforcing this view unilaterally (e.g. on Zanzibar).

    Slavery existed in all cultures and was not questioned as an institution until the Enlightenment. David’s post rightly points out that this is an on-going problem in parts of Africa.

    As an Anglo-Saxon (mostly) I’m still waiting for Normandy to apologise for 1066. (And the Anglo-Saxon majority of me should perhaps apologise to the Celtic minority!)

  17. Has the government of the ROI apologised for the Irish slave trade ?

  18. I KNEW you’d make a comment like that Mad 🙂

  19. >>In terms of the general question about a collective shame of a nation (or indeed collective pride). I’d have to say I do believe in it as a concept. I also believe it loses relevance over time though<<

    >>If one can feel collective pride, in the acchievements of their generation e.g. in sporting achievement, then one can feel collective shame,<<

    My point exactly (i.e. that is also conversely true)

    But I hazzard a guess that those quickest to feel pride at their nation’s past are also probably the ones slowest to feel shame at its past misdeeds.

  20. And why not Colm ? It’s a stain on Irish history, every bit as disgraceful as anything done by the British 🙂

  21. It strikes me as a bit pretentious on Blair’s part, a a little bit too much of seeking credit for the pointless act.

    Clearly, on our side of the ocean the African Slave trade and slavery in the U.S. is clearly something never to be forgotten and is not diminished in its horror by the participation of African tribes in such practices. The effects of slavery and the struggle of the descendents of slaves has shaped much of my country’s history.

    An apology strikes me as pointless pandering, not to the dead generations of actual slaves, but to a radcial constituency. So long as there is no denial of past misdeeds by generations gone by, and acknowledgment of such deeds, there is no substantive reason for a hollow apology.

  22. >>>We have probably helped far more Africans than ever suffered from slavery.<<<

    thats highly debatable. colonies were replaced with rulers who essentially maintained the economic apparatus of colonialisation. all that africa was given was the perception of freedom. the cold war only made matters worse.

    ————————————————

    ultimately africa would be much better served if people like blair sought to promote true democracy and reverse the debt/aid psyche of modern africa. but i think its a bit of a no-brainer to presume that africa is being deliberately held in perpetual instability and poverty by western politics, aid, debt and banking mechanisms.

  23. There is nothing wrong with expressing regret for past misdeeds commited by others but in my opinion apologies can only be offered by individuals who have commited acts or said things which they then wish to apologise for. Saying sorry on behalf of someone else is meaningless.

  24. <i>Your Armenian example is interesting but I think not transferable – most particularly because the Turks as a nation have never even acknowleged the genocide occurred.</i>

    Point taken, but I was really using it as an illustration that the passage of time is not really a reason for not apologising for an injustice, especially if people still benefit from the results of the initial injustice.

    <i>I think that the Holocaust as an event, was far more specific, and recent, than ‘slavery’ which occured over a far longer period of time.</i>

    I don’t disagree, but I think it’s important to recall that a lot of people who died in the Nazi holocaust were used as slave labour.

    On a general note, I think the most important consideration in any apology is whether or not the person apologising actually means it. In this case, it’s pretty clear that Blair won’t mean it, since anything that ever comes out of the man’s mouth is bollocks.

  25. Colm,

    I’m sorry on your behalf!

  26. David: I hope Charles in Texas is ok. He hasn’t told his slaves that slavery has ended and if they catch wind of this, well let us just say his weekend will be ruined.

  27. David

    I would like to apologise to all those who expected an apology from me but instead recieved an apology from David on my behalf. I would also like to apologise to David for the fact that he felt he had to make an apology on my behalf when the apology should have come from me. I would also like to apologise for the fact that I don’t know what I am apologising for. I do hope I have covered all necessary apolgies , and if not, I apologise once more.

    PS – I’d like a thousand pounds for each use of the word apology I made in this comment!

  28. Colm,

    So reparations are what you are after. A thousand apologies.

  29. What is an apology, exactly?

    It’s a sincere expression of regret, penitance and empathy made by a guilty but regretful party to the injured party. And an important factor in the apology process is the injured party’s acknowledgement of the apology.

    The apology Blair seems to be planning on fails in all respects. Blair is going to apologise to people who suffered no wrong on behalf of those who did no wrong.

  30. Gary,

    He should apologise to us for that!!

  31. Britain should openly celebrate its role in ending slavery.

  32. Slavery has been abolished?? Dang!

    Actually, the building in which I work in Dallas is built on the site of a slave plantation. Our joke is that little has changed since 1865.

  33. Another cringingly correct apology!

    The apology we won’t be hearing is the one where Blair & New Labour collectively apologises to the rest of us poor mortals for screwing us into the dust!

  34. Mike

    We haven’t been screwed into the dust. We’ve just experienced the 10 most progressive,productive and beneficial years in Britain’s history thanks to New Labour…. now if you’ll excuse me I have to go and collect my promised peerage 😉