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Britain doesn't just glorify its violent past: it gets high on it - Afua Hirsch
My entry into this war zone happened by accident a year ago, when I suggested on these pages that we take another look at Nelson's legacy. I wasn't actually waiting in a bulldozer, ready to storm Trafalgar Square, as some people seemed to believe, but simply calling for an appraisal of the hitherto obscured facts.

Those facts remain of minor consequence to the vocal and influential parts of British society that regard the act of raising them as heretical. The instinct is to shoot the messenger. Our great white male media grandees - it is a remarkably consistent demographic - meet simple statements of fact about the historical record with hysterical, table-thumping personal attacks. It's the kind of lashing out that happens when you try to wean someone off an addiction. In this case, Britain is addicted to glory.


There are Empire nostalgics on this side of the Channel too, but nowhere near this level of frenzy.
by Bernard on Tue May 29th, 2018 at 08:15:16 PM EST
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For everyone in Britain who is "addicted to glory" there is a multitude afflicted by ignorance. Black History, I call it. The "mysteries", the ineffable origin, the silent witness, and so forth, of a political identity.

I wouldn't have given Ms Hirsch's epiphany a second thought had I not accidentally just last night crossed the path of another article published by one of those POP-UP wilderness websites, popularesistance.org. WHY THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE LAST SLAVE IN AMERICA HAS FINALLY COME TO LIGHT. I paused to consider her contribution to the rash of "recovered" memories which have surfaced in the public domain only, to my mind, because of the extraordinary figure Mr Trump cuts from these reveries of normative "glory". Ms Hirsch quotes Hurston's celebrated editor without any indication of irony:

"We stand as living monuments," wrote the historian Len Garrison, of the black British descendants of slavery and empire. "For those who are afraid of who they must be, are but slaves in a trance." For Garrison, the idea of the African diaspora as "living monuments" was to some extent figurative. But a new book makes it literal. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave presents the remarkable [!] fact that there were people [!] alive [!] in America who had experienced abduction [!] from Africa - being examined, displayed, traded and enslaved - well into the 20th century.
Or reference to the British Museum's own collections of records respecting plantation ventures and "human trafficking" from Nova Scotia to Virginia or Barbados, Methodists' halls in Bath to Sierra Leone, for example, where slavery in the "Protectorate" was not abolished until 1924. I have several times over the past 20 years myself linked innerboob readers to these effects because I can and also to illustrate the story of "knowledge management."

Inexplicably this article digresses into a lamentation on Hurston's obscurity at the time of her death RATHER THAN an enquiry into the voluminous collections of the WPA, which "literally" employed Hurston among thousands others to systematically document US American "folklore" and US industrial policy for edification of the public domain heretofore unknown. One had only to present oneself to the LOC --public libraries or the occasional traveling exhibition-- to review hard copy. The irony is, the first prerequisite of excellence is to give a damn. Second, the first burst of conversions to digital format online --20-25 years ago-- has slowed to a trickle through the innerboob's partially waxed filters for "business needs." I have seen some collections taken offline, some barricaded by RFP, others like Donnan's research adopted by private universities.

What remains are bits of trivia eroding rumors of unknown origins and authority to speak The Revealed Truth. Which is a "Windrush" cycle epitomizes black history and the world's relation to it.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed May 30th, 2018 at 05:10:59 PM EST
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