The picture shows A Force For Good defending Henry Dundas in Edinburgh on 20-6-20 against the attacks of the SNP/BLM rally. We called for a statue to commemorate the Royal Navy sailors who lost their lives to abolish slavery. You can read the 3 speeches which we gave that day from here.
The SNP council which runs Edinburgh, has an on-going agenda to pour vitriol over the achievements of the Scots who are commemorated in its street names and statues. This is because, as Prof Tom Gallagher has noted:
The SNP is nothing if not a self-referencing movement: it sees the story of Scotland's greatness beginning with its arrival on the historical stage. So it is necessary to delegitimise episodes and people from the wider consciousness, especially from the age of achievement that characterised much of the three centuries of parliamentary union. tinyurl.com/yxxj2uj3
As part of this befouling of its own heritage, the council is running a biased public "consultation" online.
They are calling it the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review.
In a way, whoever came up with this has done us all a favour. They have listed everything they can find in Edinburgh which triggers them! In that sense at least, they've brought some interesting historic points to light.
A Force For Good has completed the consultation, and we encourage others to do so. The closing date is Wednesday 19th January 2022.
If you do, please be aware that the premise of the consultation is extremely biased in 3 ways.
1. BASED on a FALSE ASSUMPTION
That is, it starts from the assumption that there is a problem with "racism" in the city's history, and that this needs some kind of correction.
As stated on the very first page: "The Review Group wants to hear your thoughts about the most constructive ways that the city could address issues of historic racial injustice as a means to stem modern-day discrimination."
Therefore, it asserts that such "injustice" existed and continues to exist. Consequently, the points and questions are all framed around this questionable assumption! This obviously makes it harder for a sceptic to navigate the consultation.
2. BASED on an INCORRECT ATTEMPT to CREATE MORAL EQUIVALENCE
From the get-go, the consultation creates a moral equivalence between "colonialism" and "slavery" and the "British Empire". This is absurd. There is no equivalency. These things cannot be compared, and are not on the same moral plane.
For example, the British Empire and "colonialism" can be demonstrated to have had morally good elements. To attack the Empire – as if all of it is equivalent to slavery – is just attacking British history for political reasons.
3. NO NEUTRAL RESPONSES ALLOWED
Furthermore, one is required to answer Yes or No to the questions. This is awkward due to the manner in which many of the questions are framed; and especially due to the biased premise of many of the questions that "slavery", "colonialism" and "the British Empire" are all equivalent to each other, and are always inherently and fundamentally wrong! Ideally, the best response (not available) would be to hit a Neutral button on a lot of them.
EXAMINING THE 10 "THEMES"
Theme 1 begins by suggesting that Edinburgh's wealth was built on the proceeds of slavery. This is a popular myth which they try to dump on Glasgow too.
The idea that Edinburgh's wealth was built primarily, or even substantially, from the profits of slavery is so far from the truth as to be absurd. To try to besmirch Edinburgh (or any Scottish city) in this way is a deliberate political act.
Theme 2 looks at Edinburgh's connection with "international trade" and appears to be upset that "Locally manufactured products such as linen were used to clothe enslaved people."
Theme 3 lists some people they don't like, including Charles II, and David Livingstone who is on the block because his "memory was used to justify Britain's colonial expansion in Africa." There is no response to this other than to condemn such accusers as anti-Scottish philistines.
Theme 4 is the only section which deals with some actual history which can help illuminate the past. That is, it aims to find interesting people from the past in Edinburgh (former slaves) and to tell their stories. This has the potential to widen our sense of the past, and to help educate us. This is what history should be about!
However, this section stands in contrast to the rest of the consultation which is all about slanted angles aimed at bringing down our ancestors with nonsense about their past.
Theme 5 addresses the role of the British military and how it is commemorated in Edinburgh, with particular reference to the wars in the West Indies.
However, these battles were only tangentially related to "slavery". They were primarily wars of territory between the British and the French, and enslaved people allied and fought with both sides.
While this period is interesting to know about, and while it would be good if people knew more about it, there is huge potential for these events to be deliberately misrepresented as predominantly about slavery, when they were nothing of the kind.
Unfortunately, we have the uncomfortable feeling that the people producing this consultation want to misrepresent these battles as predominantly about slavery, in order to attack these British heroes, and consequently morally defame our national past!
Theme 6 looks at the "legacy of academics, academic institutions and hospitals" and seems to be upset that "Many physicians and surgeons trained at Edinburgh went on to practice medicine on slave ships and on colonial plantations worked by enslaved Africans."
Yes, that's what it says!
So, basically they are upset that people qualified as doctors and then went to work to help other people (including slaves) throughout the world. And this is meant to be a bad thing? It's not. It's a good thing!
They also point out, "Graduates from Edinburgh were to be found in positions of importance in many of the colonies of the British Empire." Again, so what? Is this meant to be a bad thing? Or does this just demonstrate a deep aversion to "colonialism" and "the British Empire" which prevents any kind of rational discussion in the first place!
Theme 7 looks at the role of churches.
None of the issues mentioned need the council to get involved. Let the churches deal with their history in whatever way they want.
Theme 8 looks at the legacy of "slavery" in arts and literature. The links they find are tenuous indeed.
For example, they want to highlight someone who was the wife of a lawyer who worked for a plantation owner? Why? So what?
Apparently, Henry Raeburn painted a man who owned slaves – and thereby they claim he profited from slavery? That's a stretch, but ultimately, so what if he did?
There is definitely an underlying theme – coming out from these tenuous links – that they just want to dump on the memories of all these Scottish people because of some hang-up the committee has about "slavery".
Theme 9 looks at men who founded educational projects "from the profits of slavery".
Yet, it is clear that these men were great benefactors of Scottish society! They should be esteemed for that achievement. The idea that they "made their fortune from the profits of slavery" – as if this was the only reason for their money – is again only tangentially relevant or correct. It would be wrong to make it the main thing about them.
One would only stress the "slavery" connection if there were an agenda to deliberately misrepresent them and bring them down.
Theme 10 looks at Edinburgh and the abolition movement and appears relatively innocuous.
For those who want to contribute to the consultation it can be found here (closing date 19th Jan).
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