Sunday, 9 July 2017

Accepting history`s truth

The "stirring choices of artwork" which now adorn the offices of Fox, Davis and Johnson, suggest that their views on British history are as distorted as the ones they hold on the EU (Three leading Brexit ministers chase the spirit of empire in their choice of art, 02.07.17). Leaving the EU cannot take the UK back to its "glorious past", as they insisted in the Referendum campaign, because it does not have one. It actually refers to a time when the country`s wealth was created by the slave trade, piracy and looting, whilst native populations existed in a state of servitude, with atrocities and extreme acts of barbarity committed by British troops ensuring little or no resistance. Isolation was never a reality nor "splendid"; the truth, as Ben Quinn says, is "more complicated"!
    If ever we are to accept the veracity of our past, and if Germany can, it should be possible here, three changes have to be made: journalists like Quinn must stop referring to "Britain`s imperial glories", and her "buccaneering spirit" as they engender unhelpful images, and can contribute to ridiculous ideas about racial superiority; the vast archive of over 1.2 million files, which governments keep hidden from the prying eyes of historians at Hanslope Park must be handed over to the National Archives at Kew; the department of education has to insist on the teaching of accuracy whenever British imperial history is delivered, with less reliance on so-called "facts", and more on analysis and evaluation of evidence, when the students` use of "lacking completeness" can be highly rewarded. 
   The trouble is that most politicians appear content to perpetuate the mythology around Britain`s past, with the reason presumably being that knowledge of the truth is too dangerous? What could they be afraid of?

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