We are civilised in spite of the British and in spite of slavery. Slavery made modern capitalism and civilisation possible. Democracy and the rights of man would never have existed without the Haitian revolution - a consideration of which is an object lesson in understanding the debt the Old World owes to the New. Plantation slavery in the Americas was the expression of an institutionalised racism the inhuman barbarity of which was unprecedented in the history of civilisation. When the Haitians overthrew French rule in Haiti in 1804, the Haitians became the first and only slave society which liberated itself. The Haitians went on to defeat the French colonial forces, then defeated a British expeditionary force and then defeated a French expeditionary army under Napoleon's brother-in-law, killing some 60,000 Frenchmen in the process. That was an unpardonable breach of protocol. Before that the Haitians had fought alongside the American revolutionaries to help them throw the British out of the American colonies. Haitian help was crucial in at least two battles in which British power was broken - at Savannah, Georgia and at Yorktown.
Caribbean: Human Rights and Reparations
By John Maxwell (February 25, 2007)
Your rights end where mine begin. That's what I tell my students. The state - which ostensibly guarantees all our rights - is us. We are the state, and it is we who make the laws, unless, of course, powerful or noisy pressure groups manage to persuade a few people in a parliamentary committee that it would be political suicide to keep the state's nose out of our bedrooms.
It wouldn't be political suicide, but since so many of us, especially politicians are the most abject cowards, it is easy to blackmail parliament into taking rights away from people of whom we disapprove. The attorney general and various others, including sections of the press, are happy to celebrate some of the most backward and pernicious thinking to be found anywhere on the planet.
The Gleaner last week rejoiced in Buggery blocked while on the same day the Observer carried a picture of a hysterical mob, including schoolchildren, baying for the blood of three young men who had been accused of "behaving effeminately" - whatever that means.
The young men seemed to have done something to anger one higgler who began to call down imprecations against them, including the accusation that they were homosexual. In the present atmosphere of moral hysteria which pervades this country, it wasn't long before a slobbering crowd baying for blood assembled, forcing the owners of a pharmacy to close their doors to protect the lives of the young men who had sought shelter there.
Then the police came, and while they performed one part of their jobs well, keeping the crowd from dismembering the young men, they are accused of turning about and abusing the rescued men physically and accusing them of various moral delinquencies.
To the press and the public in general it doesn't seem relevant that the young men had done nothing, except to annoy a sidewalk vendor. They were within a few feet of being lynched, simply because someone did not like their style.
Since no one has yet said it, I will: The problem with most homophobes is that the homosexual they fear most is themselves.
Much of the homophobic plague now disfiguring our society is incited by those I call the Christian Taliban, a gang of prideful know-nothings who come not to call sinners to repentance, but to deliver them into the hands of the vigilantes. Some have acquired their second rate theology for a couple of hundred US dollars from some self-styled bible college. What riles me is that, in the heat of their newly bought holiness, they want to crucify the rest of us, or more accurately, to stretch or cut us to fit their own Procrustean beds of sublime ignorance.
They depend on the Old Testament, a collection of some of the oral history of nomadic tribes wandering about the Middle East four thousand years ago. This accumulated wisdom was life-preserving at that time, surrounded as they were by enemies and eating unreliable food, but as Jesus of Nazareth said, it isn't what a man consumes that defiles him, but what comes out of him. In the same vein he held that the Sabbath was made for man, not vice versa.
Because the Israelites nomads wanted to build up the numerical strength of their tribes they encouraged men to impregnate their sisters-in-law if their brothers died and buggery, then and now the poorest but surest means of birth control, was an abomination as was, for the same reason, 'Onanism' or masturbation.
To their modern-day successors, like the Pharisees and Sadduccees with their phylacteries and other tokens of holiness, what is good is not what one does but what one says, forgetting another apothegm from Jesus - that the Devil can quote scripture to his own purpose. As far as they are concerned the idea that God is Love is nonsense: God is a terrible God, full of wrath, vengefulness and thunderbolts.
These whited sepulchres understand Jesus' advice that we should be our brother's keepers to mean that they should be their brother's jailers. My old friend Peter Walker used to call these hypocrites "God-Botherers" because they seemed to have exclusive hotlines to their divinity. Now they counsel us based on misinterpretations of 4,000-year-old 'science', that abortion is always wrong, that life begins at conception and a host of other nonsense, including the belief that sex education makes children pregnant.
The latest outrage is the idea of raising the age of consent, an idea some would interpret to authorise the jailing of anyone who had sexual intercourse before that age. Just say no, they blather - ignorance is literally bliss. I have news for them: if they really want to protect young people they should promote the raising of the age of consent to 24, because scientists have discovered that the brains of human children do not completely mature until about that age.
As I write this my friend, Canute James, has shown me a story from the Guardian (London) about a Jamaican who has for the last 27 years successfully pretended to be an expert forensic psychologist. This conman even had a motto which must have come straight from Jamaica: 'Exposing Unrighteousness for the Sake of Righteousness".
This man, one Gene Morrison, who didn't even have a 'genuine mail order' degree, duped judges, barristers and their clients for almost three decades. He gave "expert evidence" in cases involving armed robbery, rape, death by dangerous driving, unexplained death and drug offences. Police are now having to re-assess about 700 cases looking for miscarriages of justice. Never underestimate the power of a righteous Jamaican, especially one armed with the Wrath of God.
Reparations and Haiti
It appears to me that most people who are anti-reparations are barking up the wrong tree. One newspaper letter-writer has suggested that Britain bequeathed us all sorts of precious things when she beneficently gave us our freedom.