An Extract —


In my recent post “Nationalism Is A Lie” there was so much horror behind what I wrote, that I was either going to have to write a textbook-length incoherent screed,* or leave a lot on the table. So I thought that rather than diverticulating into asides, I’d post this piece separately.

Trigger warning: really horrible people doing really horrible things, with a walk-on by the Roman Catholic Church

From: (The Daily Mail)

We disembarked ready for our new life. I was classified as ‘a war orphan’, and given to understand that my father was dead. About 20 of us were taken to Boys Town, a home for youngsters at Bindoon, about 60 miles away.

It was quite a shock. For a start, it was such a barren place in contrast to the green fields of England and there were hardly any roads. 

We were immediately put to work. I learnt how to milk a cow within a week, and then we began constructing a new building. By the time I was 14, I was driving a truck. We’d work, sleep and eat. That was it.

I should mention: this is not an account of being sold into slavery during the triangle trade. Those people had it much, much worse.

We slept on open verandas all-year round – and when a wind blew up, it got pretty cold.

Foodwise, we’d get crushed wheat or porridge for breakfast, followed by bread in dripping. The rest of the meals were similarly plain: we seemed to subsist on a diet of swedes and turnips.

Crushed wheat or porridge. I wonder what the plantation-owners ate?

And then there was the abuse. The Christian Brothers used to walk around with a thick 18in leather strap hanging from the waist of their long, black outfits, and they’d give you a wallop at the slightest opportunity.

They’d hit you wherever they could – be it on the backside or sole of the foot – and boy, did it hurt. Once I was on the receiving end of a real hiding from one of them. He was giving a younger lad a hard time and I must have said something under my breath. He lashed out with his strap and put in his boot. I ended up cowering under my bed, trying to escape him, and was left covered in bruises.

Like most of the boys, I would try to keep clear of Father Eugene, the creepy Catholic priest in charge of the place. He had a weird way of talking to you, and took a keen interest in whether us boys kept our private parts clean – not exactly appropriate for the person who was hearing our confessions.

Remember, these are British children. Transported into slavery and delivered into the hands of sadists because they were poor.

There’s still a lot of ‘British’ in me – I always watch the FA Cup – although it saddens me that I didn’t get to spend more time with my British blood siblings, who are now all dead.

site_0425_0001-750-0-20090915122907It’s fascinating that he doesn’t hate the ‘British’ and still identifies as having a lot of ‘British’ in him. You see, it was all his fault for being born in Blenheim Palace, in a linen-lined basket with a silver spoon in his mouth. Oh, wait, I got that backwards – that was Winston Churchill. Don’t people understand that our births are an accident? One person is born in poverty, another in a palace, and the probability is nothing more than the ratio of wealthy children born to poor children born.

The origins of this child export program go way back in British history, starting with the export of children to the colony of Virginia in 1618. Oddly, the WWII version was started by an evangelical quaker, who was reacting to the poverty of street-children and factory kids. Fight fire with fire!

divider2

Whoever the fuck came up with the propaganda campaign that the British are so civilized is one of the most brilliant liars, ever.

(* I’m clearly worried about that…)

Wikipedia: “Home Children

Comments

  1. Jake Harban says

    I’m still baffled by how people can read stuff like this and say: “Well, it was bad but we shouldn’t do anything about it.” Or worse yet: “It’s not happening now, so past victims shouldn’t concern us.”

    If society does a terrible thing, then that society has an obligation to undo it as best as possible, even if that just means punishing the perpetrators or paying reparations to the victims. Any reaction to an atrocity other than pursuing remedies for it is endorsing the atrocity.

  2. says

    Jake Harban@#1:
    I agree with you. The problem is that the perpetrators are the establishment. Trying to hold them responsible for their crimes always seems to result in a “pfffff… let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we?”

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

    It is these many crimes and atrocities that are why I am reflexively suspicious of the powerful. They do this kind of shit all the time. It’s why they want to be powerful, or it’s how they preserve their power.

  3. Lurker #753 says

    @Jake Harban: the people with that reaction are precisely those who would do it again, and who do not really understand why they should not (nor why society no longer gives them free reign to do so). It’s so …. easy …. if those not like you are Not Like You, and an easy scapegoat for everything.

    I have two problems with B’ingTFSTTG. First is that the first thing to burn are books. Always. Alexandria, Constantinople, entarte kunst, Sarajevo, Jaffna, Timbuktu. The excuses vary, the fact is universal. Loot the museums and blow up the statues and ancient sites while you’re at it. Idolatry! Year Zero. To control the future, one must destroy the past. For all the justified rage at the stupid smallminded hypocrisy in the shallow state and the thuggery below the surface, I think this is the path away from civilisation itself. Reform, not revolt, or the libraries will burn again.

    Second is what, exactly, you would erect in its place? With global equality, the nation state can more or less evaporate: I’ve gotten well used to wandering around the EU and the Schengen region. If I want to go somewhere, I go there. To work somewhere, I work there (ok, I have to sort out paying local taxes, but….)
    But the EU (and the US) are vastly wealthy islands in a sea of poverty and stolen opportunity – the horrors inflicted on “their own” dwarfed by the genocide and/or slavery handed out to others, far across the sea where we don’t have to think about them. It surely can’t be *that* bad, right?

    The principle that ships must carry lifeboats for all does not descend from some lofty council of experts, but in the public horror at the loss of the Titanic. The opening of the doors to Syrian refugees comes from a little boy lying face down on a beach in Turkey, not a moral argument. So, yes, the past atrocities must be brought up, and spoken of, because to do so is maybe the only tool we have to prevent their occurring again.

    The atrocities continue today. Israel wants lebensraum. Isis wants the middle ages back, this time with AK47s. Oh, and the Vatican wants the same thing, only they’re using control of hospitals and of education to do it. But with constant sunlight, we’re slowly seeing the scale of atrocities retreat.

    But even after all the atrocities are extinguished, and reparations are made, is there not still a function for anti-slosh baffles? To stop 7e9 people chasing every gold rush?

  4. Jake Harban says

    The problem is that the perpetrators are the establishment. Trying to hold them responsible for their crimes always seems to result in a “pfffff… let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we?”

    Establishments aren’t permanent. The trick is getting them unestablished before it’s time to write the history of their era rather than after.

    Am I the only one who’s incredibly annoyed by empty “apologies” for atrocities committed so long ago that all the perpetrators and victims are dead? Any time some white person issues an apology for chattel slavery in the US, all I hear is: “Of all the racism that has infested America since its founding, I believe that the part that isn’t my fault is bad and apologize solely for that part.”

    If you ever need some additional outrage, try reading the 2014 court decision “vacating” George Stinney’s 1944 conviction. It’s positively full of sanctimonious “that was a different era, back when racism was still common” bullshit. You can just tell that the judge sprained their arm patting themselves on the back for proving, through their willingness to denounce a 70-year-old lynching, that racism is over and all the current lynchings are thus justified.

  5. says

    Jake Harban@#4:
    Am I the only one who’s incredibly annoyed by empty “apologies” for atrocities committed so long ago that all the perpetrators and victims are dead?

    Clearly you are not. I am outraged by the “I’ve got mine, so… let me slide into the grave – “SAFE!”” approach. Assholes like Warren Buffet, who is now obscenely rich and old enough not to care, announcing “nyuk nyuk I pay less taxes than my secretary!” because now that he’s more or less out of reach, he can say that. Or the catholics who stall stall stall die, and then the investigation starts.

    If you ever need some additional outrage, try reading the 2014 court decision “vacating” George Stinney’s 1944 conviction.

    I’m still fuming over Emmett Till. I accidentally stumbled over pictures of what his body looked like when they pulled him out of the river. And the people who did that… Awwwww, shucks, maybe by now they’ve learn’t that racism is bad, y’all. Bygones be bygones.

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am a moral nihilist. I am unconvinced that it is possible to build workable ethical systems on enlightened self-interest because the self-interest of the powerful and wealthy is always greater and more enlightened than everyone else’s. It has always seemed to me that the French solution – marching the c-devant to the guillotine – is probably a more effective approach. It certainly made the rich pull their horns in for a few decades! If I were establishing a society in a science-fiction universe, the wealthy and powerful would have their lives cut short, pro-rata: “you had such a great life, much better than everyone else’s. so now it ends.” Seems like a fair trade.

  6. EigenSprocketUK says

    Bindoon and the Christian Brothers feature in the brilliant and disturbing film “Oranges and Sunshine”. Almost entirely true-to-life story, and therefore all the more disquieting.

  7. Siobhan says

    Hey look! My best friend is involved!

    On 16 November 2009, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney stated that Canada would not apologise to child migrants.

    Haha, Jason Kenney, oh you. Such a crass act.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 5: … the French solution – marching the c-devant to the guillotine – is probably a more effective approach. It certainly made the rich pull their horns in for a few decades!

    Eh what? Bastille Day came in July of 1789; the machine, as they generally called it at the time, started seeing general use in Paris in 1792; its exercise on Robespierre marked the end of that particular fad in the summer of 1794; the fashionably well-born resumed strutting their conspicuous-consumption stuff that fall.

    The most immediate consequence: the Fashion Police, absolute rulers of Paris then and since, allowed immediate family members of the abbreviated to wear a thin red thread around their necks at certain more conspicuous events for the next few years.

  9. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#9:
    I was referring to the general downplaying of monarchy that occured, albeit briefly. Though the flourishing of republicanism was remarkably brief (yes, revolution leads to tyranny almost always)

    Damn it, there has to be something that can be done.

  10. Rob says

    Damn it, there has to be something that can be done.

    It’s called democracy. The trick is getting enough checks and balances in their that an asshole or an incompetent can’t game the system or do irreparable harm; but also enough fluidity that it doesn’t become a stagnant sewer (as seems to have happened to American political life) or one that does not allow political parties to wax a wane. The arguments about exactly how to design such a system are endless. I think a part of that is to not treat your laws and constitution as articles of faith, but to acknowledge that within bounds they need to change.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 10: Damn it, there has to be something that can be done.

    Much as I hate to admit it, nothing in decades has reduced expensive-showing off anywhere so effectively as PETA’s throwing paint on fur coats in the ’80s.

    Protecting the powerless against Big Institutions, as in the o.p. here, requires much more organization & work.

  12. says

    Rob@#11:
    It’s called democracy. The trick is getting enough checks and balances in their that an asshole or an incompetent can’t game the system or do irreparable harm

    In principle, that would be great, if it had ever worked in practice.

  13. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#12:
    Much as I hate to admit it, nothing in decades has reduced expensive-showing off anywhere so effectively as PETA’s throwing paint on fur coats in the ’80s.

    Good point.

    Perhaps the bomb-throwing anarchists of the 20s were wrong: they should have been shooting the rich. Make them keep their heads down, at least. No – that’s bad reasoning, because “the rich” and “the powerful” are almost a complete overlap with a revolving door at the top.

  14. Dunc says

    Damn it, there has to be something that can be done.

    The universe offers no guarantee that our problems are soluble. Much as I hate to paraphrase Churchill, democracy really does seem to be the best that we’ve managed to come up with so far, and quite possibly is the best option available. This is not to praise democracy, but merely to point out how absolutely terrible the alternatives are. At least with democracy, the transfer of power between the various elite factions usually doesn’t involve too much in the way of bloodshed.

  15. jrkrideau says

    I was referring to the general downplaying of monarchy

    As a good monarchist it was to be deplored. I’ve lived in monarchies all my life and the thought of living in a republic is scary to say the least.

    Oh and it’s ci-devant (me a pedant?)

  16. says

    Dunc@#15:
    Much as I hate to paraphrase Churchill, democracy really does seem to be the best that we’ve managed to come up with so far, and quite possibly is the best option available.

    Churchill would think that; he was a member of the establishment par excellence.

    I did a couple comments over at the fabiusmaximus site a few years ago, offering some weird ideas for different ways to do things. Ultimately, they do boil down to democracy because the only other alternative (which also has not been tried) would be an artificial intelligence. If we humans weren’t so completely under the thumbs of politicians and monarchs we’d be exploring that – I think that most leadership decisions come down to fairness and an AI might be good at that.

Leave a Reply