A new five-part BBC series about the British Empire will explore the so called ‘good’ and bad aspects of the empire, but this idea that the British Empire was somehow a force for good is an affront to the African slave trade and nations which were subjected to colonial rule by force.

On Monday, February 27, at 9.00pm, the BBC will air a five-part series based on the rise and fall of the British empire which will be presented by Jeremy Paxman, however the entire series should be viewed in a critical light as Paxman will be exploring the so called ‘good’ and bad aspects of the British Empire.

On the BBC website it explains the subject matter of the first programme as follows, “Jeremy Paxman traces the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known: the British Empire.” It continues, “Spectacular displays of imperial power dazzled subject peoples and developed a cult of Queen Victoria as Empress, mother and virtual God.”(Read http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p138b)

The BBC Press Office release says:

From India to Canada, the Far East to Africa, Jeremy finds out how the empire began as a pirates’ treasure hunt and grew into the largest global financial network the world had ever seen; how the British created a particular idea of home wherever they conquered and settled; how Britain spread the gospel of sport, laying the foundations for almost all the major sports of today; and at the many different ways in which Britain took and held power in the empire.” (Read http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/02_february/14/empire.shtml)

Note, how both reviews perceive the British Empire in romantic notions as an era which shaped world history for the better.

The only stain on this romantic notion is mentioned by the tv magazine, TV and Satellite, (25 Feb-2 March, 2012) where it is mentioned on page 6, that in the fourth programme the Opium Wars will be explored, where the British forcibly sold drugs to the Chinese at gunpoint.

Apart from the above reference any far-right member would feel comfortable watching this series as it celebrates aspects of the British Empire.

Approximately 12 million Africans were enslaved and at least 10 percent of that number died on the ships taking them to the various locations where they were to be slaves; or died upon arrival.

This African Holocaust is overlooked by many white historians and played down just as the British Empire’s impact on Africa will most likely be played down in this BBC series. Instead, the focus seems to be on cricket and how the empire gave birth to global sport, and on missionary David Livingstone as well as Cecil Rhodes, who according to TV and Satellite magazine, “…both felt what they were doing was good for the world.” (p.6)

Hitler also believed that what he did was going to be good for the world but the BBC would not portray Hitler in such a romantic and detached way.

In the Daily Telegraph Jeremy Paxman said, ”It’s to the Empire that we owe our sense of ourselves as somehow special, our distrust of continental Europe, the Windsor family’s tenancy of Buckingham Palace, the tandoori restaurants and open-all-hours corner shops on our high streets, the high proportion of us who carry passports and much of the international work of British charities…It has even changed the genetic make-up of the British people.” (Jeremy Paxman is right: the British Empire created the modern world: by Harry Mount: October 18, 2011)

It is as if Paxman was saying the atrocities was worth it. Yet Paxman’s attitudes is arguably similiar to many British people who seem to brush the atrocities of the empire under the carpet.

Europeans were the Nazis for Africans

It is amazing how far the Jewish people have come to making the world recognise their Holocaust to the point that it is even illegal in some countries to question whether the Jewish Holocaust took place or question the number of Jews that died in the Nazi concentration camps.

Africans on the other hand are a different story altogether. Historians can belittle the African Holocaust as they please, distorting the figures and playing down the significance of European involvement.

Could we really see the BBC airing a series where Nazi’s were portrayed as individuals who “felt what they were doing was good for the world”? Could we imagine a BBC series exploring the good and bad aspects of the Nazi movement?

The answers to these questions reveals alot, and it also reveals how far backwards black people have gone in regards to obtaining international integrity and respect.

The Jews fought hard and painfully to have their history recognised, they would not allow Nazis to tell their history or speak on their behalf and that is the difference it seems which has made them a strong homogenous group.

Black people must realise that the British Empire was much like the Nazis in its ideals. The idea of racial supremacy, subjugation of those considered weak and feeble minded and the eventual genocide of those considered inferior.

The British Empire has no romantic notions for many black people, or indeed for other victims of the empire’s brutal legacy.

Nor did the British Empire end with the so called independence of the colonies as British historians would have you believe. Britain played a significant role in its colonies post independence, making sure the right leaders took office and maintaining puppet regimes, crucial factors that will most likely not be explored in the BBC’s series.

Today, the British Empire continues under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Although it is weaker, it accompanies the current number one world power, America on its colonial adventures in the Middle East and Africa.

Until black people stand up and be counted our history and Holocaust will forever be trampled underfoot.

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One thought on “BBC’s new Empire series should be viewed in a critical light”
  1. Jeremy Paxman seems to be a rather mixed up man. In his book, ‘The English’ He argues that the empire was what defined English people and since it crumbled the sense of Englishness was no longer definable. He even argues in his book that the English were a peculiar blob having no sense of worth in Europe as they struggle to move away from the empire which defined them as a strong race. No where in his book did Jeremy Paxman mentioned the good of the empire in fact he exposed it as wicked.

    While the British built roads in India and introduced spices for their own cultural taste; the deed was not moral but necessity for self benefit. That does not make the empire good but self serving. Many extreme right wing uses the arguments about the empire building roads but ignoring the fact that a robber does not rob from a man and then offers to build him a home it is absurd. The essence of the British empire was power expansion and to culturalise the natives to another way of life as a means of domination like a rapist would a victim to show his power. There was nothing ethical or romantic over a regime that was build on blood and cultural benefit road or nor roads!

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