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International Coalition for British Reparations: People of the World, it's Time to get Paid.

Letter To The ICBR: Re: Observations


From: Adrian Barry
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 02:55:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Observations


Let me just say, this may look at first like its a long hate letter thats just yelling at you, but bear with me. I have legitimate points and suggestions that are not all anti.

There is a lot of radicalized rhetoric on your website, and I've learned long ago the futility of complex arguments with someone who will never be open to a perspective differing from their own.

But I simply have to point out a few things that struck me as especially inaccurate.

Firstly, the Black Plague. I don't know how you got the idea that it was England's fault, so I'm open to the possibility that I'm missing something. But I know from rather extensive study of middle eastern and European history that the Black Plague started in Asia and was carried west to the Crimea by Mongols. It was picked up around Crimea by a shipload of Genovese traders, most of whom became the first European victims on their return home. It was then through Italy that the Plague spread, by was of natural travel of germs, as well as by human carriers, in the form of the traveling afflicted and more traders, who knew not how it was transmitted. The only blame that I can come up with is that you consider England to be the center of all trade and it was their fault because everyone wanted to trade with them. But even the logic behind that isn't true because they were not much of a power in Europe at the time and their main trade was centered around wool to Flanders.

Then on to more. With slums, child labour and bad hygiene, your clearly just grasping at straws. Slums have existed ever since organized living. If you thing there wasn't a slum section in ancient Thebes or Athens, then your dreaming. Its the same with prisons. For as long as there has been crime there has been imprisonment of one form or another. Indeed it might well be argued that England was not even at the forefront of prison building, as up until the later middle ages or more, the only relatively official prison was at the local sheriffs own home. The dungeon that many people think of would have been a private possession of those wealthy enough for a castle, and had no official status. I will concede that the English, though not inventing it, did manage to organize a child labour workforce that I'm not sure could be matched(with the possible exception of the American slave system, but I won't push that as it was a work force of mixed age as far as I know). But child labour in large scale use has existed almost forever. Bad hygiene is a little perplexing, in that I know bad oral hygiene has been a long standing stereotype about the British. But I think as far as modern times go, Britain has done more to advance hygiene than impede it. Many of the advancements in science that lead to quality soaps and toothpastes and other instruments of good hygiene originated in Britain. In the middle ages and for a while after, hygiene was not too good at all by our standards, but it was average at the time for the whole world, better than for Africa and the Americas. The only peoples that were clean in a more modern sense at the time would have been the Islamic Empires, as multiple cleansing a day is part of their faith, and I understand that the Asians did not share the concerns of the Europeans that bathing was unhealthy. And indeed that is why the Europeans did not bath, not because they were a dirty people. It was the prevailing wisdom of the time throughout Europe that over bathing was a health risk and even the rich should limit their bathing to once a month. Now as soon as it was realized that that was wrong, the British were among the first to dive right into, so to speak, the kind of bathing ritual we all take on today. And before the middle ages, there was a completely different school of thought about bathing. Thanks to the wisdom of the Romans, people of means could enjoy frequent use of the roman baths constructed during the roman occupation. It is unfortunate that the wisdom of the roman was lost in the "dark ages," much time could have been saved had it not.

Now on to the Iraq wars. Firstly, I accept without prejudice that the British handled the middle east around the turn of the 20th century very very badly. And it does remain a source of serious problems. Had they listen to their subjects who knew what they were talking about (i.e. T.E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell) we might have been able to avert this disastrous misstep. Unfortunately they did not. But of all the available conflicts with direct ties to the British in the middle east, you choose two which had little if anything to do with them, I'll assume thatís because they are topical and very very expensive.

The first Iraq war was caused by American support of Saddam Hussein. He was a close friend up until the day he invaded Kuwait and threatened their source of oil. He had been acting out against Kuwait for a while (due to his claim that they were running slanted pipes under his border to get Iraqi oil) and met with no resistance from the US. Thus he had no reason to think that we would go after him if he invaded. After all, we hadn't complained yet, and he was our dear friend and ally. If he had known what was going to happen, it is my personal feeling that he would not have invaded Kuwait, anyone could have predicted the outcome of a war between Iraq and the US with Saudi Arabia and Britain and assorted other allies. There is no way he could have thought he'd repel an assault.

Now the second Iraq war. That is purely on the hands of President Bush and his administration. It was a war of choice and there was no significant aggression on the part of the Iraqis. As I recall, I believe it came out that he even warned the US that something big was going on in the Arab underground (9/11), but we paid him no mind. I wouldn't stand by that claim because I can't remember details, but it does seem to ring a bell in my brain, and I know that Saddam hoped that he could still make amends and become a big player in the region, so it stand to reason that he would try to get back on our good side. Radical Islam was just a pretext to invade. It had no merit. And the radicals behind 9/11 weren't even directly associated to the British transgressions of the past. Osama's main complaint, if you listen to him, is about Lebanon and the mess we Americans made of it. Though I have no problem agreeing that the general anti imperialism of the region has a lot of hate for the British, and not for no reason. But the hate of America is separate from the hate of the English, and you seem to confuse them. It is this that makes me think your not as well educated on the subject as you claim. Because there are plenty of valid examples of British Imperialism causing trouble in the region that you could put a price on, but they are less well know and you seem not to know them at all. Its the only reason why you would choose examples that aren't even applicable to your cause when there are many to choose form that are. Take for example the Israeli war with Egypt. That was instigated by the English and the French. The English were upset with the Egyptians for nationalizing the Suez Canal, and the French were upset with Egypt for their support of the rebellious Algerians. Israel was open in the idea because Egypt was mounting violent incursions across Israelis border. So with French and English support, Israel attacked Egypt and make the Arab Israeli issue 100 times worse. The territory in question is still disputed and a cause of great trouble. And the British went as far as to offer to bomb Israel while bombing Egypt so that it would look like they were impartial and could act as an intermediary peacekeeper (with favourable terms, of course) but Israel rejected that idea. So you see, I have proved your examples invalid, and come up with a very valid one with no trouble at all. So before you get you panties all in a twist about something, do a little research unless you want to look like an ass.

I'd also like to point out that the English did not have the primary role in the crusades. It was the French, indeed, the Muslims in the holy land and throughout the middle east called all crusaders "Franks" after the French, due to their primary role in the crusades. The English involvement that we all think of is that of Richard I "Richard the Lionheart." But in reality, his involvement was not until the end of the 3rd crusade and his efforts in the holy land ended with a favourable truce with Saladin, after which he returned to Europe. It was not until the 9th crusade that the English would make another serious effort with Edward I. And he had very little impact in Syria then went home.

The crusades really rest on the shoulders of the papal agitators and the French who did their fighting.

As much as I find these inaccuracies that you present as truth to be abhorrent, I find it even worse that you would have such little respect or regard for history and antiquity as to suggest that Britain sell some of the greatest historical landmarks and artifacts in existence on the open market. It is a horrible thing to suggest. Who do you think would have the resources to purchase a royal palace at anywhere near its value? A giant faceless corporation who will turn it into a headquarters with no respect for the history behind it. Many of these landmarks are some of the finest remaining examples of period architecture and must be preserved and respected for future generations. The thought of someone like Microsoft or AT&T buying Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace and converting it into a operational corporate headquarters complete with row upon row of cubicles and rooms of urinals and toilets for its employees ripping through the priceless walls of history is something that a lover of history and antiquity like me finds truly criminal. Can you seriously say that its a good idea, bitter as you may be, to turn Henry VIII's beautiful and priceless chapel at Hampton Court Palace into a conference room for Coca-Cola is good?

And beyond the architectural landmarks, the collection of artwork and artifacts. You think it is wise to offer the collective treasures of the world to the highest bidder? some items may well have been taken unfairly from former colonies, but at least you can rest assured that they are safe where they are in the hands of someone who can properly preserve and care for them. Half of the stuff taken unfairly by the British might well not have survived had they not taken it. Its not as though they made a practice of looting museums. It is horrible to think that some Nuevo Riche Texan .com millionaire could go off and buy something like the Magna Carta to hang in his game room for his drinking buddies. And if you think this kind of thing doesn't happen with valuable art and artifacts already, your crazy. so just think what would happen if the market was flooded with priceless things from around the world. something for everyone. Do you remember last year when Steve Wynn out his elbow through his Picasso that was in the process of being sold for $139,000,000. There are enough pieces in the British Royal Collection to allow for damage like that to happen every week indefinitely. And there are more than enough rich idiots who could make it happen.

Now, where you really go from just being poorly informed and overzealous to being outright radical is when you state that you think the British will not only seriously consider paying your $58 trillion in reparations, but will actually do it. It is hear that you change from being a little movement that just will never get enough support to make a change and turn into a radical group of crazies that the government has no reason to pay attention to. By turning yourself into an extremist group, you give the British government the ability to treat you as one, thereby ignoring you. As they should, unless your willing to be serious, make some compromises and take a step back from the brink of craziness. You mention in your most recent "News Coverage" article a "Conspiracy of Silence." First of all, don't use the word conspiracy. You already look like a radicalized group of far left zealots, the only thing that could bring you farther from your goal is to throw "conspiracy Theorists" into the mix (also don't say things like "the greatest criminal nation on earth" or "evil empire" it has the same effect of distancing you from any kind of rational or reasonable group). But you wonder why you don't get press coverage? It if for the reasons I have laid out. Do you remember that religious guy who's group was protesting at veterans funerals with awful posters? That is a radical group that never enters the mainstream consciousness and never gets anything done. They're just crazy, why give them the satisfaction of airtime. Whats special about that group in particular is that they were so far out there, even for a far out there group of crazy people, that they made the news just for being that radical and crazy. But immediately after they made the news and someone gave the head of the organization a few minutes airtime, people immediately criticized the news networks for doing it. Now your group is hardly as out there as that one, but its the same idea. And you not crazy enough to get airtime for being a special breed of crazy. Your only radicalized and crazy enough to be forever ignored. And any reputable news organization or public figure that gives you recognition does so at great risk to their reputation. So most won't, and don't expect any to. As I have said, you need to restructure, reeducate and reestablish yourselves as a more moderate and palatable version of what you are today.

Before I end, I just want to make clear that I'm not just a overly patriotic Brit, as my words and my email address might lead you to believe. I am an American citizen, and while I do have a fondness for England and many of its institutions, I'm not blind to its heavily checkered past. Indeed, my interest in British history allows me to be especially well informed and, as a historian, able to take an unbiased look at the past while making my decisions.

I am not totally against some kind of reparation for the harm caused(though I have doubts), but I feel that your going about it the wrong way entirely. You have to be less extreme and more moderate if you ever want to go mainstream, which is the only way in the modern world to make a difference. The government can't even acknowledge you if you look like a radicalized group, you need to show you can look at both sides and come to mutually acceptable resolutions.

So please, tone down the rhetoric and enter the political process, but first, educate yourself and go through your site making the necessary changes. Nothing will set you back more in your quest than rhetoric devoid of fact or logic.

Thank you.

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