Britain is not open about the stuff we’ve done at all.
Slavery is taught but that’s about it. And even then the focus is on “We stopped it”, often leaving out the part about profiting from it for 200 years.
The crimes in Ireland are only taught at A Level history, meaning that most of the public is truly ignorant of British colonialism in Ireland. A huge portion of the English public voted Cromwell to be one of the greatest Britons ever, and he committed horrific acts against Ireland and Scotland.
There’s little mention of any imperialism in Africa. When it was revealed the Mau Mau’s would be getting a memorial statue funded by the UK, people were outraged and basically denied that we ever did anything wrong. The Boer and Zulu wars are forgotten, especially the bit about the concentration camps.
There’s absolutely 0 public discussion regarding British imperialism in India. People’s knowledge seems to go as far as “We gave them trains so they should be grateful”. The British tied mutineers to cannons and blew them up. The Indian economy shrank under British rule more than any other nation in the modern era. From about 20% of global GDP (Similar to China and Europe) at the start, to about 1% at independence.
And that’s not even mentioning the Native Americans. Long before someone ever dreamt up the idea of United States, the European colonists were quite happy killing, abusing, and conning the natives.
There’s a reason another phrase for the Union Jack is “The Butcher’s Apron”. You don’t get to be the world’s first hyperpower without slaughtering a lot of people.
People really are awfully naive if they think the whitewashing of history happens only in one country.
Prime example of the British mentality is this: “we made their countries better”.
My dad has actually said that. Mention the war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and general horrific stuff and he gets genuinely angry with you. I’m sorry, but history is not there to be swept under a rug. If you want to celebrate how successful we were, remember who we were standing on to get there.
There has been no greater force of evil in the world than British imperialism.
(meridok: #what really gets me #is when they then have the goddamned /nerve/ to lecture people in canada australia nz us etc #abt the Evils of the Modern Situation and settler-indigenous shit #like e x c u s e y o u #you ain’t living on the stolen land but you’re sure as hell still benefiting)
And sometimes they judge who they’re trying to score points off of very, very badly. What keeps getting me too is the weird proprietary air about the whole thing, like British people are in some special position to get self-righteous about what other places have done with the legacy of their own colonial systems. Without any apparent self-awareness of the layers of irony there, on top of all the projection.
I’ve kept having to wonder what people are getting taught about their own country’s history here. I mean, I am very aware that self-serving distortions of history can get pushed hard. (I’m from Virginia of all places.) But, there also comes a point where you do have some responsibility to take a critical look at the line you’re getting sold, however uncomfortable that may be. And also how that is encouraging you to treat other people, here and now. It’s depressing how much easier it can be not to do that.