Great Quotes
I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper than of a sword or pistol. - Alexandre Dumas

December 2020 Issue

This issue is December 2020 issue. Covid-19 has impacted us all in many different ways. Several planned additional articles were not completed/submitted on time.

This issue has a single article focussed on police killing in the US.

Before we come to this issue, there is a sub-text that needs addressing. That is the role of Black intellectuals, both in Britain and the US and worldwide. David Olusoga, in his book ‘Black and British : A Forgotten History’, praises Fryer and several other writers without any critical evaluation. These writers, while revealing a little, still overlook or conceal a great deal. Olusoga writes as if Fryer was the first writer to address the presence of Black people in Britain. He also talks of his experience as if his generation were the first generation of Black youngsters in Britain. This error is both important and appalling. It is important because, as a historian, to make such an assumption is a gross failing. The treatment of Black youngsters, just as the treatment of Jews, can change over the historical period. It is also appalling in the assumption that the historical record may be self-evident. Anyone studying anti-semitism in the records of the Vatican would need to adopt some critical scholarly approaches. While he makes fleeting mention of the European slave trade he fails to understand that the majority of slaves being sold to the Muslim in North Africa were primarily Slavs from Eastern Europe, wherein came the name. Nor does he appreciate the extent of Viking and Icelandic slave raiding of England, particularly for women. European serfdom was a definite form of slavery. Though not as vile as US chattel slavery, it was abolished as part of the general movement for the abolition of slavery (see Russia for an instance). This is not a minor matter. It is estimated that during the period of Atlantic slavery over 2 million white people were captured and/or sold into slavery in Africa, including many early white Americans (see works of Robert Davis, and Paul Baepler).

My experience of many Black scholars when I was younger was often an example of appalling sloppiness, and a lack of historical curiosity. I had grown up with an inheritance from Aime Cesaire, W E DuBois, Frantz Fanon, Stuart Hall, CLR James and Cheikh Anta Diop. None of these trusted or relied upon the ‘standard sources’. I was brought up to believe that you are nowhere if you cannot get to the original text. This is not about suspecting racial prejudice but about the practice of good scholarship. Olusoga writes: ‘..when James Walvin embarked upon his research he wrote to every county archivist in Britain asking them if they had come across any forgotten black figures in the documents they cared for ..’. This is a truly appalling approach, possibly forgivable as a first approximation. Basically, if you do not know what you are looking for you will not find it. To do this research, you need to approach the primary resources with an open mind and a critical instinct and allow the evidence to lead you further. For Olusoga to assume that there were no Black people writing about Black presence in Britain before Fryer is an unexamined presumption not worthy of a decent historian.

Once you ask the question, the trail begins: why should they have been able to get published? So one may need to look for self-published works, which may well be with University Libraries or left with copyright depositories such as the British Library. Leafing through ‘current publications’ or the footnotes of earlier establishment historians is laughable. When I first taught African history in the 1970’s, I came across many such texts. Most of them were heavily researched. Some documented the presence of Africans among the earliest bones in England and referred to the entries in the then Encyclopaedia Britannica and elsewhere. Others pointed out that Coptic priests brought Christianity to Ireland, then to England, converted the English Royal Family to Christianity, and a Black Queen of England. Ancient statues of Black monks in Ireland still survive even after a vigorous attempt by the Catholic Church to destroy them as part of its campaign against the Coptic Church. St Maurice, who came from Sudan, brought Christianity to Switzerland they claimed. This is not the place to discuss the sources of their claims, but merely to establish that they existed and that Olusoga did not even look for them. It is appalling as his next generation of readers will assume he had done his work properly and that there is no need to revisit his assumptions.

I take my hat off to the young White scholars who discovered and exposed that Chandler, the doyen of the history of US corporations, sat on and ignored evidence that completely contradicted his prime theory that management accounting emerged from the growth of large companies rather than from slave plantations and the requirements of absentee owners.

Olusoga and the others of his generation are so enamoured of their acceptance into the academic fold they have bought into all its assumptions uncritically. British academia would have been deeply frightened that the emergence and entry of Black scholars could unravel much of the established academic duplicity. However, it is White not Black scholars who discover that Locke made handwritten amendments to the Virginia Constitution that contradict the accepted version of his role in its formation (Bernasconi). It is a White not a Black scholar (Wulf D Hund) who spots the handwritten alteration in Adam Smith’s text for ‘The Wealth of Nations’ where he finally, as an afterthought, replaces India with Africa as the type of primitive. The British academic establishment has nothing to fear from Olusoga and his generation. In fact, his championing of African soldiers for the Empire against the mistreatment of the burial graves becomes proof of his independence and therefore serves to protect the academic consensus from re-examination. So up goes the cry: ‘Give him a medal!’

Our single article for this issue is ‘BLM: Police killing as ritual human sacrifice’. It results from some serious reconsideration during the pandemic of the repeated killing of unarmed Black males by US police. Many commentators have sought to find a link with the pandemic in terms of the availability of people to protest during a lockdown, but none have ever investigated if the killings could have a connection with the pandemic. In order to find a path, one needed to reconsider whether ritual killings had ever stopped in the West and then whether Christianity was more than skin deep. It is well established that many adaptations of Christianity were made to encourage adoption, but what if the old religions and their approaches triumphed over the new Christianity? Many years ago, I came to suspect that Western Christianity retained a great deal of the old Germanic religions. I mentioned this to a close friend who was a devout Catholic, and without a moment’s hesitation he said ‘the Pope would agree with you!’ Germanic religion was devoted to human sacrifice, and the human sacrifice of ‘undesirables’ such as prisoners of war, Romans etc would be needed to propitiate or seek the assistance of the deities. An increased level of police killing would then be predicted or at least a more determined activity that would ignore the political inappropriateness of the action.

BLM: Policing as ritual sacrifice‘ by O A Ladimeji

Human sacrifice is often assumed to be a matter of the past. Yet a close analysis of the behaviour mof US Police in their killing of  unarmed civilians suggests that  as Professor Ian Loader of Oxford University, expresses it: ‘something else is going on’. Much of the organisational behaviour which is repeated over time is poorly explained in accordance with their claim motivations and procedural concerns. If one wishes to stop this behaviour it is essential to understand what is actually going on and not to accept at face value apparent explanations.