The Grauniad, history and reparations

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This is sort of interesting—on the one hand, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that people with ready money in 1820 England were connected to and profiting from the slave trade and continued enslavement. Shock! Consternation! Who would have suspected that the accumulation of wealth, even by rich liberals, came at the cost of misery elsewhere?

On the other hand, the research has come up with some specifics about where the misery was inflicted, and that allows the owners of the current day Grauniad to do some reparations work that is targeted at the descendants of those people. And indeed, that institution and those that profit from it are still benefiting from the wealth that was taken from enslaved people when the cotton they were compelled to plant and harvest was bought and woven and sold again as cloth. And their descendants are indeed still being impoverished by the absence of generational wealth—or perhaps it’s better to think about it as generational poverty—that comes down from those years.

On the other other hand, there’s something that seems fundamentally misguided about saying “we owe reparations to those communities, because we were able to find the receipts for those communities, and we don’t owe reparations to those other communities who were enslaved and impoverished by the system that enriched us, because there are no direct receipts extant.” This isn’t like returning the bronzes to Benin

I don’t know. I’m glad they funded the research, and I’m glad they are going to fund some restorative justice programs, and I totally forgive the smugness with which they are apologizing for other people’s past misdeeds. The newspaper does a lot of social justice work—heck, those rich people that are being apologized for founded the newspaper to do social justice reporting in the first place!—and they are planning to continue doing that, and not just in those specific communities named in the historical research. So that’s all good.

Still, it’s… interesting.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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