The way that statues were toppled should send a shiver down the spine of any tolerant liberal person. Erasing history is intolerant and illiberal, argues Noel Yaxley 

Even though we've had very little sport over the last six months, It's safe to say we've held our own unique sporting competition: the oppression Olympics. Britain has a colonial past you see. That is bad. We all need to be made aware of how evil, racist and imperialistic our country and its inhabitants are.

So what better way for protestors to show their hatred for our imperial past than to pull down statues of long dead white men who benefitted from the slave trade. And boy, did that happen. Many were targeted by Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists. If you were unsure where to go for a healthy dose of mob justice, the website 'topple the racists' highlighted over one hundred 'problematic' statues and street names around the U.K to 'liberate'. The most contentious of which was the Edward Colston monument in Bristol.

When it comes to statues, I would imagine most people won't miss Edward Colston. A perennial source of contention amongst local residents, the statue had divided opinion for years. He has a legacy in the city, street names and buildings named after him. The morally dubious wealth he acquired through the slave trade was used to fund schools in the city. Protestors decided to take action and the monument of the 17th century slave trader was toppled by a bunch of 'anti-racist' activists.

Maybe the statue could've been placed in a museum or perhaps, to allow for a more balanced discussion, a revised plaque could've been added to the monument. Either way, this should've been a decision for the local residents.

The way the statue was toppled should send a shiver down the spine of any tolerant liberal person. In what looked more like something from a high-noon western, mobs gathered, tore it down with ropes, doused it with paint, jumped on it and after a struggle to get it over the barrier, sent it to the bottom of Bristol harbour.

But why this obsession not just with inanimate objects, but with the transatlantic slave trade in general? I know some of these 'activists' are educated but they seem oblivious to important events in the course of human history.

If you were to accept the BLM position, you would be certain slavery started with the transatlantic slave trade. But slavery is an evil that has plagued civilisation for thousands of years. The first civilisation to practice slavery were the Sumer people of Mesopotamia 3,500 years ago. Whilst the Arab slave trade which existed between the 7th and 20th century – and encompassed most of Asia, Eastern Africa, India and Europe – enslaved some 17 million people.

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There's no denying the transatlantic slave trade was a stain on the history of both Great Britain and America, but they were hardly the only countries guilty of this. Between the 16th and 18th century, over a million white europeans were captured by pirates and sold in the slave markets of the Barbary coast of North Africa. In an essay by the conservative economist Thomas Sowell "More whites were brought as slaves to North Africa than blacks brought as slaves to the United States or the 13 colonies from which it formed."

As for the view that the transatlantic slave trade was unique in some way, you're very much mistaken. This vile practice has not died a slow death, it thrives all over the world.

You see, as BLM seem totally unaware, slavery is not some relic consigned to the dustbin of history. According to the U.N's International Labor Organisation there are as many as three times the amount of people forced into debt bondage and indentured servitude today as were captured and sold during the transatlantics 350 year life-span. Known as 'the new slavery' there are at least 25 million people in debt bondage and 15 million in forced marriage around the world. Generating upwards of $150 billion a year, it turns out people trafficking is far more lucrative than weapons and drug smuggling. According to Siddhartha Kara, economist at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy "modern slavery is far and away more profitable now than at any point in human history."

Most of these people end up working in illegal and dangerous conditions for extremely low wages. An investigation by Andrew Bridgen MP uncovered 10,000 'modern day slaves' working in dilapidated textile factories throughout Leicestershire. Some earning as little as £3 an hour. One textile factory was opposite a police station, where illegal workers had to walk past every day! Where was the outrage from BLM? Where were BLM to stand up for the thousands trapped in the horrific world of modern day slavery?

Well, I think I can answer this. Using post-colonial theory, BLM adopt a purely Eurocentric vision of slavery, whereby they can score ideological and moral points against western civilisation and to induce a sense of collective inherited guilt in white people. This can be weaponised to derive financial benefit (reparations) and victimhood status from this supposed unique white-crime.

But an irony lost on BLM is that stigmatizing an entire racial group because of the sins of a tiny minority is a classic example of racism.

Erasing history is intolerant and illiberal. As Orwell wrote "The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of history."

Who can argue with that?

7 votes

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