11.6.06

Anti-slavery malarky

From BBC News:

"Former Bristol South-East MP Tony Benn says the city [of Bristol] does not need to apologise for its role in the historic slave trade. The veteran campaigner told BBC Radio Bristol nobody alive today could be held responsible for the practice. He told the radio station, it would be more appropriate to work towards writing-off debt in African countries."

I've been meaning to comment on this since the issue came up a month ago but it seemed to submerge itself pretty quickly, so I didn't get the chance.

I don't think the city should apologise, and the idea of doing so strikes me as being the definition of backwards. To begin with, who actively celebrates the slave/merchant trade that passed through the docks? It's an interesting aspect of our history but it's not something that, once passed, is anything to be proud of. Secondly, who would it be apologising to? Descendants... who have lived here their whole lives and aren't separate in anyway from anyone else as a fellow Bristolian? So the city of Bristol would be apologising to... itself?

In making an apology in this day and age, we'd only be alienating the multicultural aspect of this city - and if we did that, we might as well cut our losses and burn this place to the ground. Better to come up with a more productive solution to repairing society than stirring up an old pot of conflict.