Story: Statues of slave owners like Edward Colston and Robert Milligan are being pulled down across the UK this week, some by Black Lives Matter protesters and some officially by councils.
Reasonable take: Good. Put them in museums with historical context.
Brain rot: "....but what about their philanthropic endeavours?" – the Daily Mail.
The statue of slave trader Edward Colston being yeeted into Bristol Harbour by Black Lives Matter protestors seemed to set off a tsunami of fury across Britain this week. Some decided to form small splinter cells of protective gangs to stand guard at war memorials, seemingly having zero comprehension of what was going on. Meanwhile, Conservative MP Henry Smith reacted by calling for the desecration of Jewish philosopher Karl Marx grave in Highgate for “promotion of an ideology leading to mass oppression and the death of over 100 million people last century” and for being an “anti-Semite”.
What better way to combat prejudice than to destroy the grave of a Jewish man who, by all accounts, spent most of his days fucking around on the piss and bending the ear of any cunt who would listen about capitalism being a “corruptive force to humanity”? He sounds like anyone you’d meet in Hackney with a single can of IPA.
The stupendous sight of a racist figurine getting lobbed into the harbour proved too much for the Daily Mail, who took it upon themselves to publish a “balanced” view of slave owners commemorated across Britain by listing their “pros and cons”. Providing the public with some of the worst justifications for evil, they pondered in their headline if these colonial figures were “Racists or Heroes? It’s not black or white”.
Before we go any further, I can confirm the answer is, unequivocally, racists, and that slavery is definitively a “black or white” matter.
In the article, news reporter Jack Elsom offers up his “good” and “bad” features of each immortalised slaver as if reviewing Sony’s PS5 event. Like an evil service comparison website, Elsom touches upon Britons like Lord Kitchener whose alleged “good” was “securing the Sudan for the British”, while his “bad” was masterminding concentration camps where “thousands of men, women and children died [...] many from disease and starvation”.
Sir Henry De La Beche was described as owning slaves in Jamaica, but “mapped the Jurassic and Cretaceous fossils of Devon and Cornwall”, so it was hard for Elsom to ratify if De La Beche was irrefutably good or bad.
The “bad” of Sir Thomas Picton was bullet pointed as: “known as the 'tyrant of Trinidad' for his 'arbitrary and brutal' rule of the island” and “ordered the torture of a 14-year-old girl accused of theft”. This was countered with the apparent “good” that he was the “highest ranking officer killed fighting with Wellington at Waterloo”.
The “bad” of Sir John Cass was the fact that he “helped to establish slave trade deals across the Atlantic with slave agents in the African forts and Caribbean”, while the “good” was that he was “Alderman for the ancient London ward of Portsoken, elected a Sheriff of London in 1711" and "knighted in 1712”.
If you listen carefully, you can actually hear the barrel labelled “futile excuses for genocide” being scraped.
By the time we get to Robert Clive, not even Elsom can offer up a meek counterpoise that he once “smiled at an orphan” or some other shit as justification for the Bengal famine of 1770, where Clive's "taxes on Indians and changes to agricultural practices that killed an estimated 10 million Indians", so he simply leaves the section blank.
When you argue that Britain enslaving, murdering, and destroying entire cultures of people is justifiable in some sense by saying “but look at that fantastic lido they built with the blood money!” you should probably log out of all your electronic devices and then launch them into the the sea, like that fucking stupid sculpture of Colston, as if you're practicing the javelin for the Tokyo Olympics.
It seems anything that threatens to challenge British exceptionalism is deemed dangerous. All we're met with are oxymoronic cries that “we cannot forget our history” from arseholes who simultaneously refuse to acknowledge, debate, or learn anything of our past. It just shows how impossible it is to have a healthy debate on our past when monoliths to slavers being toppled is taken as an affront to Britishness itself. We're often met with cunts try to convince us that that people didn’t think slavery and racism wasn’t immoral "at the time", but can you just imagine how abhorrent something would have to be considered to get banned in 1807?
Our public spaces should be a celebration of the best Britain has to offer. Where has the outrage from people crying "cultural history" been over the last four decades, as cultural institutions up and down the UK have been razed to the ground to make way for NCP carparks and student flats? Forgive me for thinking that a shite statue of some deplorable cunt in wig who poured all their pillaged wealth into philanthropic causes isn’t comparable with the destruction of the one of the wonders of the ancient world, or the erasing of history.
Cities like London and Bristol weren’t built on the back of us having a nice soil for turnips in Somerset, and it certainly wasn’t because of some “cultural superiority”, but through the exploitation and subjugation of the people we enslaved. Britain cannot cherry pick its history any longer. Our school curriculums should no longer go between some chinny Plantagenet cunt getting battered in a Leicester carpark and then fast-forward past the acquisition of the largest empire in human history to the Allied forces rinsing Hitler in WWII.
Let's tear out symbols of wrongdoing from the public gaze and put them in our museums so we can learn from them and, while we are at it, give back the stolen history of other countries. Britain has a lot of its own to catch up on.