Guest post: The whole of Anglo-Saxondom was pervaded by racism

Originally a comment by Tim Harris on Slavery gets all but erased.

The Nazis did learn a great deal from the USA. But, really, the whole of Anglo-Saxondom was pervaded by racism. Thatcher & Reagan were supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa not so long ago, the treatment of native people in Australia continues to be abysmal, and it does not seem to be all that much better in North America, particularly when an oil pipeline is at stake. This is not to mention the Belgians in the Congo and the Germans in Namibia, and earlier the Spaniards and the Poruguese. The Rio Tinto mining corporation, with the connivance of the Australian government, blew up a few months ago a cave on an Aboriginal sacred site that had been occupied on and off for 40,000 years to the fury naturally of native people, and also of archaeologists, and offered wholly cynical apologies for the ‘distress’ they might have caused after the justified outcry. Great swathes of documents (those that were not illegally destroyed) concerning the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya and the British response have fairly recently been discovered, hidden away illegally for years and years. And the British government has recently refused to abide by a virtually unanimous UN decision against its occupation of the Chagos archipelago, a part of Mauritius, from which it deported all the inhabitants to Britain. There is a good article in the Guardian (Google: Philippe Sands, Guardian – ‘At last, the Chagossians have a real chance of going back home’) by Philippe Sands, the author of two truly remarkable and harrowing books concerning the Holocaust, ‘East West Street: on the Origins of Genocide & Crimes against Humanity’ and ‘The Ratline: Love, Lies & Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive’. Sands is Jewish (and many of his family perished in the Holocaust), and is professor of law at University College London and a barrister at Matrix Chambers. He is counsel for Mauritius on Chagos, and has been involved in many human important rights cases, including that of Pinochet and his torture regime.

On a more personal note, I was asked some years ago to play two small parts (one being Mark Twain) in a good community theatre production of the musical ‘Big River’, which is a version of ‘Huckleberry Finn’. During one of the rehearsals in which a group of recaptured slaves were being marched across the rear of the stage, singing a genuine song from the times of slavery about the desire for freedom, a Jamaican actor had a complete breakdown and ran from the stage shivering and crying. I was in tears, and afterwards, speaking to the very good African-American actor and singer who took the part of Jim, I remarked on how painful the musical was, and he said gravely, ‘Yes, it takes you to places you don’t want to go.’ The production was a good one, because it genuinely brought out the horrors of slavery, as the Broadway or other professional productions you may find on YouTube definitely do not: they play down the horrors and the importance of Jim, making it all about Huck, and sentimentalise things, and so do not do justice at all to what is there in the libretto and music. Our director did a remarkable job, as did all the actors.

Finally, I note that such as Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne are now questioning whether the figures for the deaths of American black people at the hands of the police are really as bad as they are claimed to be – the only implication of which, so far as I can see, is that they suppose that if the figures aren’t quite right, the Black Lives Matter movement is unjustified.

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