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Re: Clearances and other history

I can't speak for others, but I haven't said an apology would be a good idea,
and I'm not thrilled by the motivation of the apology as proposed in the
Scottish Parliament.

More education on the subject would be a good idea.

The misfortunes of American Indians at the hands of whites became well known
through books such as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and those of blacks
through books and movies such as Roots.  Prebble and others have started
a similar process about the Clearances, but it apparently hasn't proceeded
very far yet.

One can go too far in this direction, into political correctness or apologies
for the sake of attracting tourism.

However if we are to understand the history of how our present world
developed from previous years, there is much that would be of use to
be known, both good and bad.  For example, John Elliot's work with the
Indians of Massachusetts and Oglethorpe's similarly peaceful dealings
with his native neighbors are not well known.  As your postings have
illustrated, it is too facile to say that what distinguished Prince Henry
was peaceful dealings with the natives of America.  He wasn't the only
one to act that way.

Why does it matter?  Well, it is too easy for a few known facts to become
settled dogma, repeated automatically without thought.  Good decisions are
seldom made that way.

And in this era of interventions in places as varied as Chechnya and Kosovo,
Iraq and Sierra Leone, we would all do well to know what happened in previous
eras of interventions.  Let us not forget that one of the main motivations
of the British colonial intervention in Africa was suppression of the slave
trade.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Examining the old
bricks may help prevent us from paving the same road again.

What does this have to do with Sinclair history?  If we are to understand
what significance Prince Henry's visits to North America had, it might
be useful to be able to compare them with other European visits to the
same land.  Saying he was not a conquistador is too facile.  The Spanish
who settled a long range of missions in present-day Florida, Georgia, and
the Carolinas as early as 1565 (a century before the better-known ones
in California) weren't conquistadors in the sense of Cortez, either.
They were first Jesuits and then Franciscans, in missions, and they
were generally peaceful.  They did not in the end succeed, being driven
out by the more warlike British colonists before Oglethorpe arrived.
Not quite like what most people think of as the usual history of the
Spanish in America.

How was what Prince Henry did better, or at least different?
Different from what and whom, and in what ways?

I think there are answers to that question.
Answers more comprehensive, interesting, and useful
than "he wasn't Columbus."

And of course it would be refreshing to be able to say in some detail
that not every Scottish noble or landlord cooperated with the Clearances,
and the contemporary Sinclair Earl of Caithness could make a good story.

Finally, the Clearances remind us that we are not all closely related to
nobility, nor do we need to be.  As my Aunt Jane (who will be 95 at the
end of this month) is fond of remarking, most of us descend from small
farmers and merchants.

    Oh, veiled and secret Power
    Whose paths we seek in vain,
    Be with us in our hour
    Of overthrow and pain;
    That we -- by which sure token
    We know Thy ways are true --
    In spite of being broken,
    Because of being broken
    May rise and build anew.
    Stand up and build anew. 

    --Hymn of Breaking Strain, by Rudyard Kipling

John S. Quarterman <jsq@matrix.net>

>I have  reread John, Dale and Rory postings.  I still find myself moved by
>the sadness and suffering that must have overcome the transported.  But
>still I feel a touch of pride in Caithness's actions. The very idea of an
>apology is an anathema to me.  How do you say I am sorry for brutalising
>your country. How do you say sorry for ending your way of life, abetted a
>medieval one. What do we, generations later, have the right to accept such
>an apology on those long dead.  I cannot justify any action by a
>grandstanding petty Parliament.  Dale is correct imperialistly twice we
>spread the British Empire across the world. Is it not the role of man to
>expand  his national interests?  Americas "sea to shinning sea" the Russian
>empire and others to numerous to mention.  Communication made it possible
>and now that we came communicate directly without goverment interference are
>we not in the position to reclaim the world.  This world was inherited from
>our forefathers it is on loan from our children it is to them we owe the
>correctness of our actions.
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