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(I will) “probably piss you off” (from time to time with what I write)

The phrase “probably piss you off” is taken from the resignation letter of UK-born Andrew Sullivan, who recently resigned from the New York Magazine.

Sullivan, a conservative columnist claimed staff no longer want to associate with him because of his attacks on critical theory.

In other words, he was not prepared to go along with the herd mentality. I see nothing wrong with that approach.

Sure Black Lives Matters, but so do all lives regardless of skin color, ethnicity, background, or any other denominator. All lives matter.

That Afro-Americans, Afro-Caribbean, and other related groups feel that they have had a raw deal from history, yes they have, no denying the fact. But let's move on and look to the future rather than trying to replay the past. Yesterday is gone, today is here and tomorrow, the world can change.

Tearing down statues, monuments, and memorials that offend us is not the answer. The statues, monuments, and memorials are part and parcel of who we are and what we have achieved, both the good and the bad. Rather, we need to use the debate of the various statues, monuments, and memorials that rub people the wrong way and educate on the past and correct for the future.

Let’s take the example of this woman who, when asked about Winston Churchill, responds that she “had not met him”!

On first viewing the clip I was speechless, truly what a moron. But then thinking about it, it was clear that the education system in the UK had surely let her down. She knew nothing about Churchill, not that he died in 1965, his pivotal role during WWII, his stirring, fiery speeches. Simply zilch. Not even the fact that had it not been for Churchill and others like him, she would today probably being speaking German, although on second thoughts, given the Nazi's Aryan policy, she would not have been born.

Education is the key. Not hate, not the distortion of the truth, and certainly not destruction. Education. Education. Education.

No doubt Churchill was a racist, he was, after all, a child if his time, and many, if not most of his generation were racists, without actually knowing it.

Let’s look at the argument that Arthur Harris (Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet GCB OBE AFC, commonly known as "Bomber" Harris by the media), and Curtis LeMay (Curtis Emerson LeMay, American Air Force general who implemented an effective, but controversial systematic strategic bombing campaign in Europe and the Pacific during WWII ) were mass murders. And by association, British Bomber Command and the 8th US Army Air-force, based in the UK, during WWII.

It requires no effort to tar everyone with the same brush, to call brave men (and women), who day and night risked their lives to defend Britain and free Europe from the yoke of Nazism. Yes, they certainly did unpalatable things, approved actions that would and did kill tens of thousands, both military and civilian. But to fully judge, to fully appreciate the dire circumstances they were facing, we need to completely emerge yourselves in the period to understand the evil they were struggling against.

It never ceases to surprise that while there vocal and sometimes vicious denunciation of Churchill, Harris, LeMay, and many others, little if anything is said about the genocide, the atrocities committed by Hilter, by Stalin. No one, that I have heard, has spoken out against Franco and the devastation the Condor Legion raked on the city of Guernica during the Spanish civil war.

Nor for that matter railed against the Japanese for their atrocities committed against the Chinese in the 1930s – dubbed by the media at the time as the “rape of Nanking”.

What about Otterman Turkey’s extermination of Armenians a little over 100 years ago.

And who raises a voice today about the slaughter of European Jewry by the Nazis. The Nazis not only murdered approximately 6M Jews, but they also killed millions of gypsies, homosexuals of both sexes, physically and mentally disabled, devoted Christians particularly Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other ethnic and religious groups.

Not enough? What about the civil wars in Laos and Cambodia? Annihilation of the populations of both countries carried out by tyrannical Communists in the name of freedom.

Not a word.

And now I am going to piss some people off and say that the above examples and many others I could reference, don’t mean zilch as no Afro-Americans, Afro-Caribbean who affected by these tragic events.

This partly goes to prove the point that many BLM supporters are blinkered to their waves of anger. They fail or maybe do not wish to see the bigger picture.

They could do no worse than take a page from the recently deceased US Congressman John Lewis.

A staunch fighter for Afro-Americans rights, he was a leader of the now famous 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Lewis, one of the 13 original Freedom Riders was steadfast in his belief that violence did not achieve anything. And, John Lewis, while continuing to advance the drive for equality for his community, never lost sight that all are equal, regardless of creed.

While some people claim that their opinions, stance on a particular issue is “black and white”, the truth is somewhat different.

Many, myself included view issues through a spectrum of positions. I have on numerous occasions stated that on many issues I can be found somewhere to the right of “Attila the Hun”. While other issues will find me left or right of center, whereas other concerns will see my liberal, left-leaning feelings coming to the foreground.

This for me was the point that Andrew Sullivan was making in his letter of resignation. Issues are not “black and white”, and not blindly following the herd is acceptable. It’s the way that we can engage in meaningfully, respectfully dialog. And, surprise, surprise, it is perfectly satisfactory to agree to disagree. Labeling someone a Nazi or a left-wing agitator because they disagree with you is simply moronic and lacking judgment.

A couple of examples:

Many in the US, from all ethnic groups, are calling for the renaming of army bases in an attempt to wash away history. While this is understandable, and to many Americans, the Confederate generals after whom the bases are named, were traitors to the Union, given that the Civil War was fought to perverse the Union, not to free slaves, it is part and parcel of the country’s history. And history can not be erased because something was painful, distasteful. The trick is to learn from history to ensure that the same mistake is not made again.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson of the RAF’s 617 Squadron, famously recorded s the Dam Busters, had a Labrador Retriever called Nigger. Although the dog was officially Gibson’s, Nigger became the squadron's mascot.

The night of the raid, 16 May 1943, Nigger was run over and killed, almost to the minute that Gibson was sending a Morse code signal (the code was nigger) confirming that the Möhne Dam had been successfully breached. Nigger was buried with full military honors as Gibson and the surviving aircraft were heading back to Britain.

Of late, there has been such a hue and cry over the dog’s name that the RAF has been forced to remove the gravestone, which has been stored in an RAF museum, replacing it with a new inspection that does not mention the dog’s name.

I can understand that some people can find the dog’s name insensitive, even downright offensive, but people need to also appreciate the period.

Thank goodness that this episode has done nothing to dull the amazing achievement of 617 Squadron, and what probably helped to shorten the war in Europe.

"History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon," Napoleon once said. And while to some extent, this is true, without history we have a base on which to build a better future.

So even if people are pissed off at our mutual history, history has brought us to where we are today, and where we are going tomorrow.

Don’t blindly follow the herd because of peer pressure. It’s more than OK to piss people off because you are not a “groupie” and you think differently.

History is about choices.


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