Apologising for events from history (e.g. slavery)

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by golden_rivet, Mar 24, 2007.

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  1. We all know how politicians attempt to capitalise on events. The sight of them apologising for events from history in which they were not involved is risible. It's hard not to feel that most would apologise for absolutely anything if it got them a moment's extra publicity and the same goes for many people in public life.

    So I have always been opposed in principle to the concept of apologising for events from history - or at least opposed to the way it is popularly done and talked about today. Yesterday however something occurred to me that I hadn't thought of before. Whilst listening to a satirical programme on radio 4 where they were listing all the historical events for which apologies might be appropriate I was forcibly struck by the fact that at least when an apology takes place it has the consequence of publicising these events, many of which due to poor teaching of history may be unknown or even contested in popular mythology. I never thought when I first started studying history what a radical area of study I was entering yet the past is a hotly contested arena, one which makes it a far from dead subject.

    What do you think? Unapetising though the sight is can these self-concious apologies however meaningless in some ways perhaps be used to compensate for the ignorance of past events that is so prevalent in society today?
  2. Apologising for the sins of our fathers has always got my back but I do agree with you in principle that at least it brings these events to the public eye. The unfortunate thing here is that they only ever cover very recent history, usually over things we are all to well aware of, and do it over and over again. We're sorry over Ireland, we're sorry about Ireland, we're sorry about Ireland.... right I get it, everyone gets it, now stop bleating about it just to get some extra votes. And just for the record, I'm not sorry, I didn't bloody do it so why should I be!
  3. G-R

    May I suggest that the major problem with the re-examination of history is the popular style of examination of a problem using 2007 social attitudes and not them that were current at the time of the event.

    The current slavery debate appears only to be directed at European States. No mention is made, that long before Europe became involved in this trade that Middle East Arabs, North African Arabs and Central and South African Tribes had long been involved in this trade including taking slaves from the West Country and South Wales to North Africa. It appears that no request has been made to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea States or any African State or the Organisation of African States for a formal apology.

    Surely, using these parameters, all the families that suffered financially from the men of the house-hold being snatched by the Press Gangs and forced into virtual slavery with the RN should receive an apology and compensation from the MOD.

    The list is endless if we continue to act using year 2007 standards to fit historical events.

  4. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I come from a long line of Fishermen, I would have thought that its safe to assume that none of them had slaves, in fact slaves probably had a better fed and safer lifestyle. Can anyone explain why I should feel any need to apologise?
  5. Why should Britain apologise for atrocities which happenned 200 years ago. In fact Britain was instrumental in abolishing this trade.
    Many slaves were caught and sold by other tribes to the white and Arab slave traders. This seems to be conveniently forgotten and suddenly once more it the PC brigade step in and blame the white man.
    What percentage of the British population were involved in the slave trade? My wife has carried out family tree research and no slaves were owned by our hard working barely surviving ancestors. This will be the case for most of the population.
    If the descendants of those who benefited from this trade wish to apologise then let it be.
  6. Never apologise, ceratinly not in international diplomacy when one or more cultures will take it as a sign of weakness and react accordingly
  7. I'm sorry Golden_Rivet , can you point me to exactly where the British Government has apologised?

    This is the subject of a 13 page magnet for numpties on Arrse , because the original poster couldn't differentiate between "expressions of regret a beastly chapter ever happened" , and "It was all our fault, we're sorry"

    The British Government has made no apology. They are however, celebrating and making damn sure that the world knows on Sunday , that 200 years ago, the greatest empire the world has ever known, put an end to Slavery and enforced it across the globe via iron men in wooden ships.

    I am as guilty as the next man of loathing this Governement for some of it's uber-PC hand wringing. In this case however, the Government is being wrongly accused.
  8. The Prime Minister has expressed 'deep sorrow' in an article for the New Nation newspaper and I do remember hearing about Ken Livingstone making an apology on the behalf of London for slavery.

    There's an article to that effect in the Guardian newspaper. The article makes particular grovelling reading, I suspect that our Lord Mayor of London is grubbing for black votes? Oh! And a dirty slur campaign against the Tory leader David Cameron as well. What a surprise!
  9. don't think I accused the 'government' of doing that Pongo :lol:

    I was also trying to draw out another thread of the debate namely that there are events in history which are contested and it would be interesting to bring that debate a bit more to the forefront of public conciousness. A topic that springs to mind is the starvation of the people of Ireland in 1845-46 which is rarely taught in schools in Britain.
  10. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    And whats even rarer Goldie is the story of how much food aid Britain sent over to Ireland at the time :roll:
  11. I've tended to notice that history and indeed politics is becoming more and more 'Europeanalised' as Great Britain is seemingly forgetting that there is a world outside of the continent. A recurring theme taught in schools today is the first and second world wars. Repeatedly. It really is no wonder many pupils when given the option to drop history when they are fourteen gratefully do so.

    I still remember the enormous disappointment I felt when we were told we were to study a topic on the Ancient Egyptians, which I thought was going to be really fascinating, and I do still think it a fascinating topic. All we covered was just the hieroglyphics. I had really felt let down by the teachers for that.

    C'est le vie, I suppose.
  12. Slavery, Irish Famine etc. had nothing, I say again, nothing to do with me. I strongly disagree with any politician who apologises for these things in my name.

    Tell you what, Blair, Livingston and all you other liberal do-gooder interfering types, I DEMAND an apology.

    I demand an apology for the Enclosures Acts that were passed in the 18th and 19th centuries. My forefathers were forced off common land they had held for centuries and driven by hunger to work in new and dangerous industries as nothing better than indentured labourers, slaves for the Industrial Revolution in order to make land owners and factory owners rich at their expense.

    Oh, sorry, that happened to white English people didn't it? Sorry my mistake, no apology needed, sorry to waste your time.

    They hang the man, and flog the woman,
    That takes the goose from off the common;
    But let the greater villain loose,
    That steals the common from the goose.
  13. Quite agree with you Slim. I also have delved into my family history, and far from encouraging slavery, my forebears were still dying in the workhouse in Victorian and Edwardian times, and were therefore little more than slaves themselves a hundred years after abolition. If anything, I am opined to believe that the descendents of the formerly enslaved should be celebrating the bicentenary by giving thanks for William Wilberforce et al, instead of whingeing about reparations.

    Reference Peter's post.
    Ken Livingston is NOT the Lord Mayor of London. The LORD Mayor is elected annually by the CITY Livery companies. KL is elected by lefties, itinerants, immigrants, and others to whom his political views appeal, and is to all intents and purposes what he was before, the head of the Greater London administrative body.

  14. Wholeheartedly agree, for an apology to be worthwhile one must have both contrition and some responsibility in the first place. We're not in the same socio-political or economic climate that we were in when abolition was enacted and any apology is worthless.

    This was discussed on Radio 4s Any Questions last night and an Irish politician mentioned being pretty uncomfortable about it, although she did highlight the political impact of el Pres Tony apologising for the potato famine as a component in the reconciliation process (although my personal view is that the process seems to involve lots of concessions from London and very little from Sin Feinn/ PIRA.

    Politicians, bunch of parasites, the lot of them....
  15. There is some pressure to do so, but it doesn't appear to be resulting in any suggestion that it'll happen. This was discussed on the Today programme yesterday morning at about 0740, with some bloke from Ken Livingstones empire banging on about it, snivelling little git got short shrift.
  16. I was just wondering if this not just another plot by the new politicos to line their own pockets, they after all by the most part all be legal eagles and when they depart parliament will no doubt be suing HMG on the behalf of some poor African tribe or the other for as much as they can.

    :evil: :evil: :evil:
  17. I see nothing wrong with our great leader showing regret at despicable events that took place long before any of us were born.
  18. Why am I getting the impression that Finknottle is a die-hard New Labour?
  19. Peter, I see your point. If my Grandad had knocked over a dog on the Northwich bypass (and he did) and tried to drive away (as he nearly did), I would not see it my place to say sorry to the Owner. Fortunately, the dog was OK because my Dad liked dogs and you can leave a moving car. I digress.

    Slavery was beastly but so was serfdom, feudalism, indentures, the Enclosure Act, Highland Clearances, Poor Houses, Press Gangs and unprincipled Recruiting Sergeants; as many of you have said. In the past, s**t happened. Do we get any thanks for removing these (often gobby) people from the West African s**t holes where they would have not been borne or died at birth, died early, and most certainly not have achieved the status and afluence they have today.

    This Country realised the inhumanity and put a stop to it; and stand proud the Andrew for enforcing it.

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