A few examples from the last couple of days, although sadly I could have written this post at pretty much any time and had equally relevant examples to hand. First the BBC writes a piece of absolute garbage entitled “Is gingerism as bad as racism?” Please don’t actually read this article, as it will drive you insane. The gist is that a number of red-haired people are quoted saying they’ve been called names, for example journalist Sharon Jaffa says “attacking someone on the basis of their hair colour can be every bit as damaging as persecuting someone for their race or religion, and therefore, in some cases, needs to be taken just as seriously.”
OK, lesson over. To me, the reason why British people are so ignorant is very clear. The history that white British people need to know in order to function in the modern world is simply not taught. I studied history all the way from GCSE through ‘A’-level up to a history degree at Oxford University, and not once did I learn about slavery. At Oxford I even focused on 18th-century British history, with a tutor who had written one of the definitive books on the period, called “A Polite and Commercial People” (!). Yet the fact that during the 18th century Britain went from being a piss-poor rock on the edge of Europe to a predominant world power, basically because of the enormous amounts of wealth extracted from the Empire at untold human cost, was kind of glossed over. We learned about nascent industrialisation, improvements in agriculture, the effect of the spinning jenny on the textile industry, etc etc. But exploitation on a scale never before seen? Millions of people worked to death on West Indian sugar plantations, whipped, beaten, raped, tortured, thrown off slave ships, dying in their own vomit while shackled together in the dark fetid hold of a ship for months on end? Not deemed worthy of serious study.