Should we bear the Responsibility for our Ancestors?

Two seemingly unconnected news stories last week found their one minute of airing amongst the sensational reporting from the G7 Summit, the continuing saga of the EU vs BREXIT, and the burning of the Brazilian rain forest. Although my readers would probably expect me to comment on the suspension of Parliament, I think these two stories have a chilling connectivity worthy of debate.

One story was the admission from the University of Glasgow that it took contributions in the form of gifts and behests towards the construction its Gilmorehill Campus between 1866 and 1880; probably derived from the slave trade. Although these announced reparations of £20 million are not being distributed to individual descendants of slaves it sets a disturbing precedent.

The second story relates to the significant rise in white supremacy/nationalism throughout the Western World in the past two years. These people have moved from the shadows of internet activity to violence on the streets including mass shootings. And their numbers are growing at an alarming rate.

There are now so many ethnic and religious lobby groups trying to rekindle the past in a blame game euphemistically aimed at some moral admission of wrongdoing, but with the ultimate intent on financial reparations for events that occurred generations ago. I take the view that I am not responsible for anything my father did without my involvement or consent, and I do not expect my children to be held responsible for anything I do without their support or consent. Therefore, why are we tolerating lobby groups looking for reparations on activities that occurred so many generations ago that it is only recently that online genealogy allows us to remotely track such ancestry? When do these people realise that nasty activities such as slavery have existed since the dawn of mankind, and still exist today in various parts of the world. The great historic monuments of the past relied on slaves to construct them. We can take a social view today that slavery should be eradicated, but we cannot go back in time and legislate for the past.

I’ve debated with someone from the Indian subcontinent about the need for the British to pay considerable reparations for activities throughout the 18th and 18th centuries – the days of the British Empire. I suggested that India thrives today on both the constitutional Government and the railway system left by the British. Without the extensive rail network built in the time of British occupation India would suffer the transport problems that we see in countries today such as Brazil. China is building a massive rail network because it needs it to thrive. What would happen in India if our Health and Safety Regulations were applied throughout the Indian rail network? The country and its economy would come to a standstill. Very often it’s mentioned that Cuba sits in a 1920’s time warp but India also lives in such a time warp, but the quality of the British engineering still prevails, as in Portugal.

As for contributions to the University of Glasgow what about contributions from the tobacco and sugar trade? Both of these goods are now considered detrimental to human health so what about the people who suffered harvesting such goods, and then the consumers whose health may have suffered? Indeed, the City of Glasgow was built on these trades so do we demolish Glasgow as an unacceptable relic of our so-called terrible past as with the desire by a radical few to demolish statues of large benefactors to other universities and institutions where their wealth was derived from such activities. What about if Facebook put up the £20 million being sought, but in 100 years from now Facebook is considered a scourge on society and everything connected with it should be deemed poison?

By far the most damaging problem caused by these ill-considered lobby groups is the fuelling of racism. This card has now been so overplayed that white people are afraid to use large parts of the English vocabulary lest someone interprets such language as racist. And politicians seeking any votes possible to pander to their need for power have even legislated against such language without serious debate about the consequences. We have coloured minorities playing the victim card in their attempt to seek some ideology of equality, or even supremacy. I would argue that white people have had enough of being made to feel guilty for the activities of their ancestors and the continual pressure of the racism card which together with political correctness have overstressed tolerance. And this leads me to the connectivity to the rise of white supremacy and nationalism. White people are being eroded of their identity, their culture, and their heritage. Fodder for groups who are at the extremes.

My view is that Governments and Universities need to slam on the brakes regarding ethnic and religious lobby groups; take a break from any further antagonistic legislation or reparations touted in the name of equality; and study the impact of existing legislation on the indigenous population. Has the University of Glasgow attempted to determine if any descendant of a slave has prospered from a degree from their august hallows? Statistically this is highly probable as some slaves where transported back to Glasgow. Whilst there remains a suggestion that people today bear some historical responsibility for the activities of their ancestors, we have a cauldron that feeds extreme supremacy and nationalism.

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