Love that Noo Yok Tahms!

It seems Western media are finally coming out into the open and recognizing what is truly behind Armenian claims for the government of Turkey to accept responsibility for what happened to their ancestors back in 1915. This from the New York Times:

Did they collude?

Did they collude?

‘Behind the Turkish government’s denials of the century-old Armenian genocide lurks the possibility that survivors and their descendants could be deemed legally entitled someday to financial reparations, perhaps worth tens of billions of dollars or more.

For human rights historians, the Turkish government’s outrage at recent calls to acknowledge the genocide from Pope Francis, the European Parliament, Germany and Austria is intertwined with the reparations question. Such an acknowledgment by Turkey, such historians say, would not only reverse a century of denials, but would also weaken Turkey’s legal defenses from compensation claims.

“You’re talking about a long historical trend of denial,” Mr. McCalpin [a scholar of transitional justice at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica] said of Turkey. “To admit or recognize a genocide also requires acknowledging a wrong, and that is where reparations come in. You acknowledge, and then you move to repair.”

Just a small point here. The Republic of Turkey will celebrate its 92nd birthday in October this year. Despite sleight of pen statements to the contrary, there was no country called Turkey prior to 1923.

Black slaves financing the British industrial revolution

Black slaves financing the British industrial revolution

There was, however, a country called the United States of America prior to its abolition of slavery in 1865, and the NY Times article put me in mind of a song performed by a gospel group, the Staple Singers back in 1971: ‘When Will We be Paid for the Work We’ve Done?’ Click and listen along while following the lyrics below:

When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?

We have worked this country from shore to shore
Our women cooked all your food and washed all your clothes
We picked all your cotton and laid the railroad steel
Worked our hands to the bone at your lumber mill. I say…
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?

We fought in your wars in every land
To keep this country free, y’all, for women, children and men
But any time we ask for pay or a loan
That’s when everything seems to turn out wrong
We been beat up, called names, shot down and stoned
Every time we do right, someone say we’re wrong
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?

And where did the money end up?

The Triangular Trade – and where did the money end up?

We have given our sweat, and all our tears
We stumbled through this life for more than 300 years
We’ve been separated from the language we knew,
Stripped of our culture, people you know it’s true. Tell me now…
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?

Will we ever be proud of “My country, tis of thee”?
Will we ever sing out loud, “Sweet land of Liberty”?
Will we ever have peace and harmony?
When will we be paid for the work we’ve done?

Well, 1971 is a few years ago now, and I’m not sure how the compensation claims are progressing. That line in the second verse struck me as topical though, in view of the events currently unfolding in Baltimore.

Incidentally, it’s not often mentioned in British history books, but an important contribution to the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain was the wealth generated by the Triangular Trade‘The transatlantic slave trade, often known as the triangular trade (duration – approximately four centuries), connected the economies of three continents. It is estimated that between 25 to 30 million people, men, women and children, were deported from their homes and sold as slaves in the different slave trading systems. In the transatlantic slave trade alone the estimate of those deported is believed to be approximately 17 million. These figures exclude those who died aboard the ships and in the course of wars and raids connected to the trade.

Physician, heal thyself!

Physician, heal thyself!

‘The trade proceeded in three steps. The ships left Western Europe for Africa loaded with goods which were to be exchanged for slaves. Upon their arrival in Africa the captains traded their merchandise for captive slaves. Weapons and gunpowder were the most important commodities but textiles, pearls and other manufactured goods, as well as rum, were also in high demand. The exchange could last from one week to several months. The second step was the crossing of the Atlantic. Africans were transported to America to be sold throughout the continent. The third step connected America to Europe. The slave traders brought back mostly agricultural products, produced by the slaves. The main product was sugar, followed by cotton, coffee, tobacco and rice.’

Check out this on a website called The Real Histories Directory: ‘British port towns as well as the burgeoning industrial capabilities of the country were made viable through this trade in humans. Liverpool was the principal slaving port and half of all vessels would dock in the north west of England. London, Bristol and Glasgow shared the remaining spoils. The triangular trade provided markets and resources to enable the British Industrial Revolution to take hold – increasing urbanization, beginning the decline in peasantry and providing the capital to build grand cities and country estates.’

Is there a possible connection between this and the reluctance of US and British governments to come on too strongly to Turkey over the Armenian business?

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3 thoughts on “Love that Noo Yok Tahms!

  1. You typed: “Well, 1971 is a few years ago now, and I’m not sure how the compensation claims are progressing.”

    The call for reparations in the U.S.A. have been ongoing since the conclusion of the rebellion of the States (“Civil War”) and perhaps the most famous of American speeches that call for reparations, has effectively been marginalized by misnaming the famous speech as the “I Have A Dream” by PhD. Martin L King Jr..
    No, M.L.K. Jr.’s speech was about reparations and the few verses about ethnically diverse People living together equally could become a reality as a result.
    I recall a discussion we had with Andrew Young Jr. (King’s associate, former Congressman, diplomat, and mayor of Atlanta Georgia) who emphasized how central that unpaid claim check was among the organizations supporting the “civil rights movement”.

    It is very telling how few people realize the main theme of the famous speech was the claim check presented to the U.S. government to pay reparations:
    “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.””

    At that time (1963) the call for reparations were more vocal than the moderate PhD. Martin L. King Jr.
    I suspect you are aware the claims for compensation in the U.S.A. are now very effectively marginalized that one would have to be committed to research to find it.
    http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010827.reparations.html
    Broken government promise: Freed slaves were promised 40 acres and a mule…

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