Apparently the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has apologised for “London’s role in the slave trade”.
This is every bit as daft as those people who persist in demanding an apology from the United Kingdom for the slave trade. Why do I say that? Well:
- The current population of the country have had nothing to do with slavery.
- The U.K. was instrumental in abolishing slavery in the first place, and indeed the Royal Navy was for some time patrolling the coasts of Africa to stop various other countries’ vessels carrying slaves back to their homelands.
- The African nations supplying slaves were complicit in the trade themselves.
- Many (certainly not all, but many) slaves were well treated and in some cases married and had families with their masters. There are plenty of examples of mis-treatment, to be sure, but ignoring those slaves who (or whose families) benefited overall whilst emphasising those who didn’t is at best iniquitous.
Only the stupid would demand an apology, and only the stupid would give one. My estimation of Ken Livingstone has gone down substantially today.
Oh, and if you still can’t see why it’s so silly, let’s ask the Italians to apologise for the Roman Empire (which, incidentally, had lots of slaves). Or how about we ask the Muslim world for an apology for whatever unpleasant acts were committed by their kin during the 7th or 8th centuries in Spain? No?
It actually makes me cross that we have public figures apologising for things like this, because it lends credence to the idea that they should be doing so, and legitimises the demands of some of the groups of people calling for apologies for this, that and the other.