We Need To Talk About Context

The Arts

The removal of the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Germans’ for a racial slur was the standard reaction one would expect about now, while the BLM movement gets up to speed, no problem there, although I’m sure a lot of sclerotic shires folk exploded with rage about it.

The action provided a talking point. Ultimately Black Lives Matter will grow and strengthen, statues of our past robber barons will be removed and lessons will be learned. Common sense prevailed and UKTV reinstalled Fawlty Towers pretty sharpish, making me wonder if they dreamed the thing up as a publicity stunt.

Cleese himself says the contextual material in Fawlty Towers makes it abundantly clear where our sympathies lie. The Major is the kind of dino-bore that once existed in every coastal B&B. If a character can’t express a viewpoint, objectionable or not, you have censorship. I’ve worked with John several times and he’s on the left of liberal, so I imagine he was upset by what happened.

To be fair to the young who professed to be offended, how could they hope to understand a half-century old character based on even earlier stereotypes? The clumsy major was a cliché when my mother lived in Brighton in the 1940s.

Context does not excuse Little Britain, a far cruder show that seems built around its leads’ desire to dress up, sometimes in blackface. I tried to find any justification for the various camouflages but came up empty handed. Interestingly, the one contextually positive sketch ‘The only gay in the village’ does not come in for censure because it makes a clear point – that being different is no longer enough to make you special.

Which leaves the more surrealist ‘The League of Gentlemen’, and here I find it hard to understand the blackface removal since there whole point of the kidnapping carnival character is to give us nightmares. This, in a show where one of the key characters is a German paedophile? The BBC has always pushed the envelope on shocking humour, but even the disability jokes in Nighty Night never caused it to be taken off.

The British comedy shows of the 1970s were jaw-droppingly offensive, but seemed to think they were helping race relations by using the terminology of bigotry. Watching them now is like seeing a clumsy child trying to dance and failing at each step.

I have a problem with US action movies wherein black women are always sexualised and black men are always lawbreakers, and don’t tell me this is ‘set on the streets’ as an excuse. In war films the black man always dies early and if someone proves untrustworthy it’s because they have a foreign accent – usually English.

As a child I sat through the homophobia of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and countless other films in which gay men were simpering non-beings who were beaten up, to the point where I fully expected to be beaten up too. In the 1990s, the annual London Pride parade ended in a park beyond Brixton, and parade attendees had to run the gamut of teeth-sucking name-callers. To be honest it wasn’t that big a deal because we were a lot more confident than today’s young. Now, at least, the ghetto walls have largely fallen.

Multiculturalism has ended making fun of difference because it’s more interesting learning from others. If the genesis of Pride is an analogy, BLM rallies will pass through protest to reform and finally celebration.

32 comments on “We Need To Talk About Context”

  1. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    I thought that Papa Lazarou represented a clown, not a black person.
    I’ve never liked clowns. I was taken to the circus aged about 6, and thought they were horrible – hurting people, throwing water (even if fake) over people etc etc.
    Can you guess that I don’t like ‘pranks’, practical jokes or slapstick? I don’t find Chaplin funny.

    Removing old comedy programmes isn’t a substitute for treating BAME people fairly.

    Don’t get me started on Mrs Brown…

  2. Jan says:

    I had never watched Mrs Brown @ all much until I watched part of an episode at work one night. It was really funny after hearing all the chunnering I never expected it to be funny. It really made me laugh.Watched other episodes since and it still makes me laugh. Old fashioned I think but comical.

    How unpolitically correct is it then? I’ve lost me politically correct gauge. Is it bad to laugh if stuff fails to conform?

    Think you have got this right me F. re the probable path this BLM movement will take.

    Another thing that did make make me smile AND think was looking at the pictures from various county towns and in certain other parts of the country where BLM protests were happening over the past few days. Then looking at the pictures taken on Saturday the 6/6/20 of the protests in central London. Interestingly enough the police officers working on that big first Westminster demonstration formed a far more ethnically diverse bunch than the protestors nationwide.

  3. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    I had rather hoped that we had moved on from men playing female parts.

    Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not talking about trans people, or men who want to wear female clothing, but if we start from the premise that white people shouldn’t pretend to be black people, why is it OK for men to pretend to be women?
    Or vice versa?

    I do realise that this could be taken to the extent where acting could cease to exist because nobody could pretend to be anyone else. Where should the line be drawn?

    To change the subject completely, I have another question.
    I’ve just finished reading The Collector by John Fowler.
    Miranda refers to the lavatory as ‘the place’. I’ve heard it called many things (I particularly like ‘Martha, will you show her where we keep the, uh, euphemism?’ in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) but never that.
    Have any of you heard it used?

  4. Brian Evans says:

    If you want to see black-face at its worst, look no further than Laurence Olivier’s film of him playing Othello. It is an hilariously bad travesty of acting, theatre and film . I admit that for many years I have found the man supremely irritating as he was, to me, a ham and a self-righteous creep who was totally up himself. His performance as Othello should be awarded the best (unintentially) comedy performance of all time.

  5. Liz Thompson says:

    No, Cornelia, I’ve never heard that used!
    I’d never watched Little Britain or League of Gentlemen (I don’t watch TV very much), and so watched the clip from League for the first time. It made me uncomfortable, I honestly couldn’t see it as funny. It wasn’t so much the outrageously old-style racial depiction as the terrorising of a woman in her own home, and the apparent abduction of another. I remember the Black &White Minstrels, at the time I doubt if I read much into it, the village I was brought up in was totally white. It wasn’t till I went to University that I saw anyone non white, other than Asian men travelling to work between Rugby and Northampton on the bus. We were not, of course, taught the history of our empire, or of our slave trading, in the 1950s, nor even at grammar school in the 60s. We have to change our education system to explain and inform all children about British racism, exploitation, empire etc if we ever hope to eradicate white privilege and establish a genuinely multicultural society, where black lives matter, where education, jobs, equality, and income is open to all, and where privilege of any sort is not bought and sold by wealth, parentage, influence, or political systems.

  6. snowy says:

    I do hope that BLMUK does mature into something that is actually useful. [I went to their website to see if they have a published policy on knife crime, no nothing yet.]

    The backlash against ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, is slightly odd. If you subject it to a strictly critical dissection it is a just a comedy about two idiot men. But interpretations are as individual as the people making them, and mine is almost certainly different to somebody born in the 21st Century.

    To me a more important/sensible/rational question is did it move us ‘forward’ from where we were to where we are now? Did it open up debate and produce a net good effect?

    [If you want to see something from the period that is really, really odd, find an episode of ‘Curry and Chips’. (Viewers are advised to place a cushion on their lap before viewing to avoid unwanted jaw injuries)]

  7. Peter T says:

    This a difficult topic. There are some lunatic excesses in being PC. There are things we see as totally wrong one day, yet accept them another. And history is merely a source of ammunition to throw at one another. There’s a TV series about people, celebrities researching their ancestry. Some of the celebrities of Caribbean origin quite naturally expected to find victims of slavery, which the invariably did. To the horror of the modern celebrity, several of those victims graduated through the system to become slave owners themselves. For me, the lesson is not judge others by the standards that we might apply in our own, modern and still very limited environment. As someone who is very much attached to his own freedom and right to non-conformity, I’ll now resist any philosophising on liberty.

    The Love of My Life and I were discussing the ‘Fawlty Towers’ business over our breakfast. The evils of racism and the various –phobias are very context dependent. What’s acceptable when delivered by Lenny Henry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, or Maureen Lipman isn’t from someone with different ancestry. Our conclusion was that the problem is deeper than racism. It is a lack of concern, sympathy, respect, tolerance, for others. And if we can place a bunch of ‘others’ in a convenient box, we make generalisations about them, blame them for all our problems and escalate our emotions to rampant hatred.

    Chris mentioned ‘The Major,’ the dino-bore who said that shooting Germans is no longer in season. His brain might be largely departed, but he seemed a tolerant man, he tolerated Basil, and, after all, the only thing anyone ever thanked him for was shooting Germans in two World Wars. Still old Majors don’t usually suffer too badly. Or at least they don’t until one old person can be held responsible for one accident or misfortune. At that point, we start hearing the demands for confining everyone over 65 to care facilities. “Old people, they are worse than the ******!”

    And I’m totally with Brian on Olivier.

  8. brooke says:

    Glad you’re up and about…and writing with less drug-induced construction of paragraphs.
    In US, Black Lives Matter will not have a celebratory phase as there won’t be anything to celebrate. Recall its origins include massacre of nine black people in a church. (Contrast the arrest of the shooter…). Like MLK anniversary, we’ll give a day to charity, be kinder…but.

    Cheers from this side of pond.

  9. Martin Tolley says:

    I couldn’t understand why “the Germans” episode came in for flak. – Surely the slurs and physical abuse of a small chap from Barcelona – in EVERY episode – was more obvious, and then there was the Irish builder…

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Martin, I agree with you.
    I was watching an old movie called Stormy Weather because I wanted to hear Lena Horne sing it. The plot involved theatre people and part of it took place in some sort of night club which had a floor show. One number and they called it by a name I didn’t catch involved couples dressed in sort of Civil War costumes. When the girls turned around they had black face faces in their bonnets. Some of the men were black, some not. The music was all Civil War stuff – Bonnie Blue Flag and so on. I don’t know what it was supposed to prove but I thought it was dreadful. (Lena did sing at least.)

  11. Sarah Griffin says:

    The drug induced construction of paragraphs from a few days ago was a great journey into your thoughts at the time. I got where you were coming from and I’m not on heavy pain killers! To be able to still construct and produce written work while quite “whacked” shows admirable tenacity to nail a feeling or situation into words.

  12. SteveB says:

    What worries me is the apparent hatred of our own country.

    Regarding slavery. Until about 1650 slavery was almost entirely of europeans by africans. The African slavers reached as well as the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts as far as the coasts of England and Ireland where they took entire communities into bondage. African enslavery of europeans continued until Napoleon‘s conquest of Egypt. Of course it was Africans who sold the slaves on to the UK merchants like Colston. Although I don‘t know about Colston in particular, in general the merchants looked for slaves where they could get them and took them close to home when they could, it wasn’t about race only money and overall about 1/3 of these slaves were white.

    The largest slave trade in the history of the world by far was the Portugese slave trade from Africa to Brazil which seems also to be forgotten.

    Just outside Athens where democracy was born were the silver mines operated by slaves. And in the Roman empire the mines in Spain left pollution that is in Greenland ice cores. All pre modern mining involved slavery.

    I wrote these quick notes because as far as the UK thing today goes it seems to me it‘s all about the present not the past. The past is used for a few jingoistic slogans about mostly half digested history. X’s grandmother was a slave. Sorry big deal it’s history get over it. And that‘s where I started that people seem to have become disaffected fromtheir own country. This era reminds me of the fall of the Hapsburgs – which was accompanied by WW1 – and for similar reasons.

    I don‘t think there is anything constructive coming only division.

  13. Lyn Jackson says:

    I agree with Martin Tolley. We used to have hysterics watching Fawlty Towers ,but I find it hard to watch now. However I don’t think anything from history should be banned.
    As Steve B points out humans have always used slaves. Africans used to enslave other tribes. We need to get over it as most of us are not like that now.
    Agree with Martin re Sir Lawrence, thought I was the only one,Martin.

  14. Lyn Jackson says:

    Sorry,I meant to say I agree with Brian Evans re Sir Laurence.

  15. Wayne Mook says:

    Sorry I’ve not been posting, I’ve been popping in and reading. Glad to see you posting.

    To be honest I’m not in favour of getting rid of anything, it allows people the opportunity to pretend to it didn’t happen or at worst it was a few bad eggs when it was many. I’d prefer it if information about them given.

    Still I’d rather people take it out of some statue than destroy someone’s business, car or whatever.

    As to Fawlty Towers I’ve not watched it in years. The Alf Garnett defence only works upto a point, Garnett became a ‘character’ and gained a kind of acceptance, instead of the mirror of disdain.

    After austerity rights and services have been removed from those who need them most and it seems those who suffer the most are also those that are blamed, even though they weren’t responsible. There have been demonstrations and warnings aplenty but nothing to redress. At least the BBC reviewing these programmes and putting information about them gives debate and information. Hopefully action will be taken to deal with racism and not just it’s past.

    In many ways it’s the same thing that has happened with books, some of the them re-written to take away offense but usually in the low brow. Which shows inequality itself, and as we know most, if not all television is low brow.

    Even in context images can still alienate, there was a good documentary on The Young Ones that mentioned this.

    Sorry if this made little sense but I’m a bit tired and emotional, really.

    Curry and Chips, is that the Spike Milligan one? If so agreed about the jaw.

    Wayne.

  16. Helen Martin says:

    “That was then, this is now and we’re not like that now” only works if it’s so. I never had to give my son lessons on how to speak to the police if they should accost him. I know people who did. It is still true that in general in this country a black or First Nations man who is “out of place” will be asked to justify himself. A university professor was stopped by the police and asked where he had got the money to buy the car once he’d proved it was his. Colour was all the justification. Don’t talk to me about knife crime and “black on black” criminality. We are not talking about violent crime, we’re talking about an expired license plate, a $20 bill that may have been forged. No one has said that the man was the originator of the false bill and the First Nations chief only became difficult when the police were about to arrest his wife.
    There are too many wrong assumptions out there and the idea of removing the police from dealing with medical/psychological situations is the first constructive thing I’ve heard.
    No criticism of any members of any force intended, particularly those of a nation other than ours, but our police are organised like military, trained like them and presented to the public like them so it isn’t surprising that many of those attracted to the police service are military minded and tend rather to the black and white view of facts and situations. We have rather a large number of rigid thinking people in the police.

  17. Derek J Lewis says:

    I fail to see a reason for ‘kicking over the statues’ these days. I fail to see any value in censoring the past. what better fate for any statue than to be walked past unnoticed every day and be the regular target for pigeon s***t. Justice indeed.
    Incidentally MLK’s father the Rev Martin King added Luther to both his and his son’s name after being impressed by Hitler after a visit to Nazi Germany in the mid 1930s. Go figure.

  18. Ian Luck says:

    To me, being ‘PC’ always seems to be the first stage of a trajectory that begins with the phrase: “I’m quite offended by that”, and proceeds through what I like to call the ‘Uninformed Outrage’ phase, which leads to the sheep-like ‘Trendy Protest’, then into wearing a very fetching Hugo Boss uniform, before donning an iron boot with which to stamp on a human face forever.

    There are many ways to get a sensible point across, that people will get behind. Being obnoxious, and giving the red-top bottomfeeder press fuel to undermine your intent, by making you look foolish, is not the way. And they will.

  19. Peter T says:

    If we still had a large scale slave business with traders and owners, who of today’s glorious leaders would be profiting from it? Of course, they’d not do anything hands on, more major investor, senior executive positions. I think that you’ve most likely thought of two. They might visit their acticities occasionally, for the photo opportunity. You can imagine them strutting around, wearing big white hats. Yet, in spite of that, they were still voted into power. Clearly, most of us, though we may shout and scream, we don’t really care.

  20. Liz Thompson says:

    Ah well, I shall keep plodding on with my anarchist ideals and pragmatic approach to ccoperation on causes and campaigns with whoever else is a supporter, regardless of their personal political stance. Cooperation is definitely the way forward in the community, even if parliament (Senate/Congress, if you’re American) sets us a bad example. As long as we can remember enough history to see it doesn’t repeat itself, the amount of tolerance required to accept our differences, and sufficient sense of humour to laugh at ourselves, we might even survive to the 22nd century.

  21. brooke says:

    @Helen. Thank you.
    The history of slavery is worth remembering–not because of the numbers or who held slaves and who did not. Instead acknowledge how we’ve baked the values and economics of slavery into our laws, our conscience, our language and our wishes for the future. That your ancestors may have been slaves should not determine your guilt or innocence, your right to live, and your right to defend yourself. Nor should it be cause for others to insult you, your family.

  22. Joel says:

    There’s an excellent graffito near Bethnal Green Underground station in east London which simply says “The system cannot defend anyone it was not designed to protect”.

    This is what we are now seeing internationally – a ‘system’ with new bolt-ons to address each current issue as it arises, often in knee-jerk fashion. We will end up with what in the UK became the ‘Dangerous Dogs Act’, a piece of legislation less effective than a pointed stick.

    Context is vital, history needs to be fair and comprehensive, and from R F Delderfield’s “To Serve Them All My Days” – ‘history is written by the winners’. That book was written in the aftermath of WW1, when print reigned supreme, and those outlets were overwhelmingly owned by big right wing media. Not much changes. The digital age may spread other sources of news and viewpoints wider but it’s still newspapers and tv which will be recorded and remembered. The breadth of fair reporting is vital, not the volume of it.

    (ps – any chance of people from outside the UK somehow showing which country they’re keying-in from? It’s hard often to make the culture jump to someone else’s system without a hint/prompt)

  23. Jan says:

    Joel never truer words said

  24. Terenzio says:

    Slavery in the Roman Empire was economic. Slavery in the US had a racial component. The Roman playwright Terence was born a slave in North Africa and was brought to Rome. When his talents were discovered, he was educated and freed. He went on to become a prominent, respected and successful member of society. His dark skin wasn’t held against him.

    Members of the Confederacy were traitors to the country. They lost. Are there statues of Benedict Arnold in public places? No. Another point, Confederate statues and monuments were erected during Jim Crow and during the Civil Rights Movement. White people telling black people that we’re still in charge. No one is trying to erase history. They simply have no place in public places including parks and town squares.

    Munich hasn’t tried to hide it’s connection with the Nazis. It’s important to never forget what the Nazis did. There’s a prominent monument to their victims. However, you won’t find statues or monuments of or to Goebbels, Himmler, Göring or Hitler in public places.

    Edward Colston? It’s fine if someone wants to drag up his statue from the bottom of Bristol harbor and put him in a museum. Just make sure there’s a label that reads he profited from “the transportation of over 84,000 African men, women and children to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas, of whom 19,000 died on their journey.” What we display in public spaces should represent our values.

    Whatever the Africans did or didn’t do to their own people isn’t an excuse or justification for what the Europeans did. And it was the Europeans who created the market for slaves in the Americas.

  25. Terenzio says:

    Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. His father visited Berlin in 1934 with the Baptist World Alliance. They were appalled at what was happening. “This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the law of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward coloured people, or toward subject races in any part of the world.”

    Martin Luther is the 16th century theologian and Protestant reformer who challenged/questioned the status quo and Rome.

  26. Penelope says:

    Slavery still exists. Every one of us has a cellphone and guess what? They are made in a situation that’s economic slavery. There was a Great NYT expose that talked about the conditions of the Chinese factories where they make IPhones. But we all have ‘em. Never mind Indonesia and all our cheap clothes. I don’t see a lot of outrage when it comes to having to give up convenience. The young don’t really get it, do they?

    But for my money, Asterix was the best education about slavery. That taught me that anyone from anywhere could be a slave in ancient times. Get over it, hipsters.

  27. snowy says:

    Brooke I’m not going to argue against your point it is entirely correct from a US perspective.

    But my perspective is the UK and that is entirely different, to pinch a line from Joel “..history needs to be fair and comprehensive.”

    So to that end I will try to sketch out what the key differences are, I’m not going to attempt to teach you your own history, that would be stupid and rude, [but I may make slight references to it just to provide context].

    Most Black-Americans, if that is the current term, came from Africa to the Southern states where they were treated in a way than disgusts modern people, this maltreatment continued even after Abolition in ways that most UK people do not fully understand. [Other readers are encouraged to look up Brown vs. Board of Education just as a tiny example of the sort of sh!t that was still going on in the 1960s]

    Most Black-British people come via the West Indies, and this is where the histories diverge.

    1807 UK outlaws the slave trade and begins a naval campaign to prevent it.

    1833 UK outlaws slavery, it took a while the rich 1% who held 100% of the vote opposed it.

    [This placed freedmen and freedwomen at the same level as agricultural workers in the UK.
    And this was grim, UK workers had no guarantee of food, housing or access to medical services, no right to vote and subject to imprisonment by local magistrates without legal representation. Slavery is still legal in the US]

    The West Indies transitions from a Slave Economy to an Agricultural Economy. Plantation owners sell up and the land falls into Commercial hands, It becomes a part of the British Empire, and has the same reforms as everywhere else, Schools, Hospitals, Justice system, Infrastructure etc. It is a mistake to think that the British Empire segregated people by skin colour, it didn’t, it segregated people by wealth. If you were rich all doors would open. You can find plenty of example of individuals with prejudiced views, but everybody had equal status under law. The British are very picky about this, ‘Sense of Fair Play’ is a stereotype for a reason. The US replaces absolute slavery with Jim Crow laws.

    Decolonisation, ie. transfer of control from Europeans to Local inhabitants starts in the late 19thC, but it is going to take time, to make it viable it requires a cadre of trained and experienced local professionals: Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Teachers, Police, Judiciary etc and etc. It could have happened around 1920 something, but the process keeps being interrupted by events in Europe, [People with a penchant for funny shaped helmets mostly]. Life for workers in the West Indies is comparable to that of workers in Europe, not great but less grim than it was. It continues to improve slowly in both spheres, the situation in the US continues to be horrible.

    By about 1937 the process is almost complete, [but there is about to be another outbreak of pleasantness re. funny hats… ], so it finally takes until 1948.

    1948 brings us to the ‘Windrush’ and ‘The British Nationality Act 1948’ which gave all people living in the United Kingdom and its colonies the right of entry and settlement in the UK. This coincided with the availability of cheap passage from the West Indies to the UK, there was lots of surplus shipping available now that peace had returned to Europe.

    We got the cream from the West Indies, the brightest and best people, good for the UK – bit of an own goal for the West Indies. They had a right to migrate as British citizens, it didn’t stop members of the Labour Party objecting though.

    I’m not going to pretend they had a great time, the Government dropped a clanger. Britain was smashed, rationing was still in effect, there was a severe housing shortage, shortage of school places and shortage of healthcare, the NHS had only been created the same year and was still getting into shape.

    Let’s localise this to a city, everything is smashed, you are short of food and short of houses and suddenly 802 unexpected guests who have a perfect right to come, turn up at Tilbury rather unexpectedly? What happens, what usually happens, food and housing is found. This means that more people have to share the same amount of stuff. Most people put up with it and carry on with their lives.

    But there is a ‘baked in’ inequality in the existing population, 90% of whom are not affected by the new arrivals, if it costs them the equivalent of a £1 a week most won’t miss it. But the bottom 10% who are living hand to mouth it matters, they are barely scraping a living and suddenly they have to compete with other people for food and housing, and they resent it, really don’t like it, People are getting free stuff and they are not, worse than that people are getting free stuff and they are paying for it. This creates resentment in their minds.

    It would have happened if the 802 people were White Australians, White Africans or White anybody from anywhere. It happened with the Huguenots, it happened with Ashkenazi Jews and it happened with waves of Irish migration.

    Food short, Housing short, what Britain did have was lots of unfilled jobs, this was the Reconstruction period – ‘Export or Die’. And we have the cream of the West Indies looking for work. They walked into these jobs without a problem, employers were glad to have them, the Trade Unions were not so keen.

    The bottom 10%, who never had a realistic chance of ever getting any of these jobs, feel even more put out because they have been ‘leap-frogged’, this is when it kicks off.

    The Government could have calmed it down by reducing the flow to match the available resources, but Bosses said we must have more and there was an export drive on. They sacrificed the welfare of the 10%, because they were politically and economically unimportant.

    It took 50 years of hard struggle to get over this failure by Government, but we did, to get to Today.


    If you have made it this far, you will be expecting some sort of point.

    The misery of slavery in America starts in the 18thC and it is still not over.

    The misery of slavery in the British West Indies started in the 18thC and ended over a century ago.


    *** GET READY, HERE IT COMES! BRACE! – BRACE! ***


    Anybody with British Empire ancestry, your family has had over a 100 years in a stable and peaceful democratic society to get their act together, if your lot in life is not as nice as you would like it, it is not MY fault.

    And if you BLOODY DARE try to claim you are ‘owed’ more stuff than any other person from any other former part of the British Empire by dipping your hands in the blood of innocent, slaughtered Black-Americans and claiming your ‘suffering’ is in ANY way comparable to theirs, I will call you a variety of names the very mildest of which will be: disgusting, cheat, liar and hypocrite!

  28. snowy says:

    And before anybody shouts at me, [which they are entirely free to do], I hold the opinions I do because of what I have learned. Opinions are opinions, they are always provisional; somebody cleverer than me, [and there are millions and millions of those], may tell me about things that I was completely ignorant of, [and that subset is absolutely massive] and my opinion will change in an instant.

  29. Wayne Mook says:

    Terenzio the statue has already been recovered, it had a copy of Titbits in it. A company set up by the merry monarch who got rid of the evil dictator Cromwell. A number of trading companies given exclusive charter by English monarchy cast an evil shadow, The British East India company being the most notorious. What the British did in India tends to over shadow a lot of other imperial actions. The first formally listed company was actually The Dutch East India Company (VOC) at the start of modern capitalism, the forerunner of many modern companies and built using violence and slavery.

    To be honest the South and the Jim Crow laws are hard to understand especially after the civil war, still in place to the 1960’s is just shocking. I hadn’t realised the statue building was a part of this.

    The problem in the UK is the tendency to secrecy and the rewriting of history to bolster views, (Alfred the Great has been used in this way a few times.) We also have a history of burying uncomfortable or awkward facts, them pretending they didn’t happen and trying to carry on as if nothing happened. Windscale nuclear reactor/reprocessing plant had a major accident, very little is known about, the place is now called Sellafield.

    Here there was a more informal form of bigotry, things were done and then not really talked about. The race riots of the 1930’s are hardly mentioned, so when they happened again in the 80’s people proclaimed it a new menace to our was of life etc. Even though the events that sparked them are very similar.

    Things have changed for the better here over the years, there is still a long way to go and hopefully this will propel things forward again with racism becoming a thing of the past I hope.

    Terenzio As you note the name was taken in opposition to intolerance. Martin Luther made similar speeches in favour of freedom, love and patience at the time of the German Peasant’s War. In later years though he did become more extreme and allowed in some circumstances more active resistance.

    Wayne.

  30. Jan says:

    Wayne are the toes actually broken? I can’t find your original post.

    Both my dopey nephews on separate occasions broke their toes chasing each other round the house. Not nice!

  31. Terenzio says:

    In order to gain the presidency Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction and withdraw federal troops from the south. This was a mistake. Hayes put his personal political ambitions before the good of the country. Federal troops needed to remain in place until lasting change could be achieved.

    Jim Crow laws aren’t hard to understand when you consider the institutional racism that existed in the south. Look at what happened after Johnson passed the Civil and Voting Rights Acts. Johnson said the Democrats would lose the south. However, Johnson argued it was the morally right thing to do. He was right on both counts.

    What’s promising about the Black Lives Matters movement is the large number of white people joining the protests. And that the movement has global support.

  32. Ed DesCamp says:

    @ Brooke and Snowy: as a ‘Murican, I agree with Brooke’s pithy assessment. While Snowy’s viewpoint may be valid for the UK, I can’t say.

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