Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Racism and slavery - Problems that just wont go away...

I do read a few of the questions and answers from a discussion program called Quora. I read it in English, Dutch and German and I have to say the English language version outshines the Dutch and mostly the German one as well. There is however also a, lot of dross on it, some a bit sexual if you like that sort of thing but also interesting questions about the universe, mathematical conundrums and so on. The one highlighted which got my attention was by an Asian person who answered the following question – What sucks about being white?

He (I think it is a he) says If you are white, everyone will accuse you of racism, oppression, cultural appropriation, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia - every sin in the world, even though you by all standards are better than 95 percent of the world’.

Remember though he speaks in the plural, 'you' meaning every single white person.

He quantifies that saying through asking and answering – What’s about slavery? Answer - ‘Did you know that slavery existed throughout the entire history of human beings? Europeans were also held as slaves - not only in Ancient Rome, but also quite recently - by historical standards - as part of the Arab, Barbary and Ottoman slave trades’. ‘In Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the administrative and political centre of the Ottoman Empire, about a fifth of the population consisted of slaves in 1609 - many of whom came from Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Africa’.

Yet there is no “Turkish” guilt whatsoever. There is no “Arab” guilt. No one in the Arab or Turkish world has a “White Pride Parade” today, nor are Arabs forced by their educational system to cast aside their glorious history and deride their ancestors for slavery. You can read the same about slavery in Muslim Spain, in Iran, and so on.

Slavery was ubiquitous until it was ended in the 20th century. By Europeans’.

Interesting? Read about his view on colonialism - Did you know that it also existed pretty much everywhere in the world? That almost a third of the European continent was once a place conquered by the Islamic states, let alone the Islamic conquest of North Africa. Why does no-one speak of Islamic colonialism and Islamic guilt? Colonialism was ubiquitous until it was ended in the 20th century. By Europeans. Life was a mess before the 20th century - pretty much everywhere in the world. The whole concept of human rights, that we today take for granted, did not at all exist until it was established by Europeans. Everything bad that is ascribed to Europeans - colonialism, racism, slavery, sexism - was ubiquitous everywhere in the world, until it was ended by Europeans. Stop hating your (European) history and take pride in it - just as everyone else in the world does. Every history of every race and ethnicity has its bright and its dark moments. Let’s forget what is long gone and look forward to a world where no such things will exist - only beautiful moments!’

I would say – Hear, hear! But as we know slavery does still exist, even in Europe!

Nevertheless the article is well placed and as some of the replies show, pretty well being misunderstood by some. Extremism takes over. What will dunking a stupid statue do except to give a good feeling for some for a little while? Will it change the system? Mostly not I suspect. I have said before we humans do not learn much from history. We cannot change history as much as we will shout and scream. But we can change the present for the better. Through a proper dialogue and coherent plans that make sense to the population at large. I suspect the great majority of people today abhor racism and slavery and all that comes with it. But I’m afraid hurting police horses will only turn the tide against.

I regret that humanity in the past thought slavery was OK, greed and money uppermost. The UK was certainly not alone in that rancid activity, the Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese all had a hand in it as far as Europeans were concerned. Arabs, Chinese, Japanese all alike. So, if we want to have a go, let’s all march on Beijing or Tehran and throw their statues around. There’s plenty of choice. It’s right, we need to change and not just here, but everywhere.

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