View Full Version : Righting historic wrongs... one approach

George Jung
10-20-2013, 05:02 PM
Do you imagine this will fly? How do you see it playing out?
Caribbean Nations to Seek Reparations, Putting Price on Damage of SlaveryBy STEPHEN CASTLE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/stephen_castle/index.html)

Published: October 20, 2013

LONDON — In a 2008 biography (http://theorwellprize.co.uk/shortlists/william-hague-mp/) he wrote of an antislavery campaigner, Britain (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/unitedkingdom/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s foreign secretary, William Hague, described the trade in human beings as an indefensible barbarity, “brutal, mercenary and inhumane from its beginning to its end.”

Fourteen Caribbean countries that once sustained that slave economy now want Mr. Hague to put his money where his mouth is.
Spurred by a sense of injustice that has lingered for two centuries, the countries plan to compile an inventory of the lasting damage they believe they suffered and then demand an apology and reparations from the former colonial powers of Britain, France and the Netherlands (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/netherlands/index.html?inline=nyt-geo).
To present their case, they have hired a firm of London lawyers that this year won compensation from Britain (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/world/europe/britain-colonial-torture-kenya.html) for Kenyans who were tortured under British colonial rule in the 1950s.
Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1807, but its legacy remains. In 2006, Tony Blair, then prime minister, expressed his “deep sorrow” over the slave trade; the Dutch social affairs minister, Lodewijk Asscher, made a similar statement in July.
Britain has already paid compensation over the abolition of the slave trade once — but to slave owners, not their victims. Britain transported more than three million Africans across the Atlantic, and the impact of the trade was vast. Historians estimate that, in the Victorian era, between one-fifth and one-sixth of all wealthy Britons derived at least some of their fortunes from the slave economy.
Yet the issue of apologies — let alone reparations — for the actions of long-dead leaders and generals remains a touchy one all over the globe. Turkey refuses to take particular responsibility for the mass deaths of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, let alone call the event a genocide, as the French Parliament has done. It was not until 1995 that France’s president at the time, Jacques Chirac, apologized for the crimes against the Jews of the Vichy government. The current French president, François Hollande, conceded last year that France’s treatment of Algeria, its former colony, was “brutal and unfair.” But he did not go so far as to apologize.
His predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, offered an aid and debt-cancellation package to Haiti (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/haiti/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) in 2010 while acknowledging the “wounds of colonization.”


Peerie Maa
10-20-2013, 05:16 PM
They don't seem to be interested in seeking apologies or reparations from the people who enslaved and traded their ancestors.

In the Gold Coast, the Asante empire rose during the era of the slave trade. On the basis of access to Western arms in exchange for slaves, the Oyoko clan of the Akan people began to centralize the region after 1651. Osei Tutu became the first asantehene, or supreme civil and religious leader of the Asante. By 1700, Osei Tutu's organization of the Asante caused the Dutch to deal directly with the new political power. On the basis of control over a gold-producing region and the slave trade, Asante maintained its power into the first two decades of the 19th century. To the east of Asante, the kingdom of Benin also was well-organized, but its commerce with Europeans was less dependent on the slave trade than that of Asante. In the 17th century, the kingdom of Dahomey developed among the Fon people. Using the slave trade to pay for European arms, the kings of Dahomey created an autocratic system of government. The royal court controlled the slave trade and raised armies that were used to raid neighbors for more captives. Dahomey continued to exist as a slaving state until the latter portions of the 19th century. Slaving states often developed ruling ideologies and bureaucracies that were, in some ways, comparable to the emergence of European absolutism. The slave states also generated a significant culture based on bronze-casting, woodcarving, and weaving.
I wonder why?

S.V. Airlie
10-20-2013, 06:01 PM
Should Egyptians and conquered enemies of Egypt claim money for building the pyramids?

George Jung
10-20-2013, 06:03 PM
Something along the lines of Willie Sutton 'Why do you rob banks? It's where the money is', I suspect.

George Jung
10-20-2013, 06:17 PM
I have to wonder how ideas such as this arise, and how they take root. This current iteration seems quite organized, suggesting a well-organized, large group of folks have formulated this idea, and that there's money to be made as a result. I suspect it'll never be settled - even if large sums of money exchange hands. That's a cashcow that'll be milked forever, if it's once established as a possibility.