Beginning in 2007 a group of English started a series of self-deprecating walks, in chains, to apologize for the role of white Europeans in the Atlantic slave trade. Using ostensibly Christian language, and appealing to churches, who, apparently, supported the venture, the group walked for 37 days to make “the apology” to the heirs of slaves for what other people who had their same skin color once did.
The very notion that anyone should ever be held liable for the deeds of others, for deeds they have no moral culpability in performing, is soundly condemned in Scripture. It comes from the Accuser, who loves to pile on guilt and sorrow where there is none, and keep us in the chains of that guilt.
But this is what Scripture tells us about such nonsense- Jeremiah 31:
29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Saying that anyone living today owes anything to anyone else, living or dead, for deeds they did not do, is completely off base, in fact God condemns it. But here is how this “Christian” group presented their purpose:
- To bring an apology for the role of Europeans (and especially the role of the church) in the Atlantic slave trade and to ask how we can make amends and repair the damage.
- To provide a safe place for dialogue and to foster healing and reconciliation.
- To engage with schools, public forums and the media to educate about the true history of slavery and abolition and the need to deal with ongoing issues of racism, racial justice and forgiveness.
- To remember the abolitionists of 200 years ago, especially seeking to bring to the fore the contribution of lesser known abolitionists, both black and white. To further the work started by abolitionists 200 years ago by facilitating healing and restoration from the consequences of slavery among Africans and African descendants .
- To draw attention to ongoing forms of contemporary slavery and to campaign for its abolition. To also draw attention to the dehumanisation of any race or people group by any kind oppression or slavery
There is no possible way the living can apologize to the dead, because the dead cannot receive such apologies, and there is no apology owed by any person for anything they have not done themselves. Unless these people, who are led around in chains by the descendant of a slave to obviate the sins of their fore bearers, have actually participated in enslaving people, then what they are selling is Satanic FALSE GUILT, and this is an abomination.
This is about far more than some misbegotten stunt, these people truly expect the living to bear the guilt of the dead, and to make penance for the sins of the past through some form of personal humiliation and taking on of guilt that would only put them in bondage.
Slavery has been with us for a long time, and the notion that only Europeans have a corner market on enslaving people or that Africans are the only victims of slavery defies the facts. For instance. 1.25 MILLION White slaves, at least, were taken from Europe to North Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries.
During that same time, ironically, white slavers were enslaving Africans- the Atlantic Slave trade ensnared 10-12 million souls over a 250 year period (out of this total, some 800,000 were taken to America). This was horrendous. In fact one of the all time most popular English hymns, Amazing Grace, was written by a man who was a repentant slaver: he became an ardent abolitionist. John Newton was instrumental in the banning of slavery in England in 1807.
Europeans were also enslaved, as noted above. Even while the Barbary pirates, Jewish slavers, and a host of others were still kidnapping European people and taking them to North Africa, other Europeans were enslaving Africans and carting them off to the New World, over a 250 year period.
But the Arab slave trade of Europeans went on from the early 8th century to well into the 19th century (1100 years), and estimates of the number of Europeans enslaved by Arabs are impossible to make. During raids in Italy during the 9th century, something like 20,000 Europeans were captured and taken as slaves, and the raids ranged from Iceland, to England, to the whole of the Low Countries and the coast of France, of course Spain, which was conquered, and all throughout the Mediterranean, What is more, European slavers would also capture fellow Europeans and sell them on the infamous Barbary coast. Could there have been as many as 20 million Europeans enslaved? Many historians would dispute that, but the records kept were scarce and it is impossible to rule this out.
While some 10 million or so African slaves went to the New World, of whom around 800,000 went to America, the number of Africans enslaved by Muslims may well number in the tens of millions.
It is difficult to know the number of slaves captured by the Arabs over a 1,000 year period because of their habit of either castrating the men or periodically killing off their slaves out of a deliberate policy of preventing them from having children. So not only were these people enslaved, white and black alike, but they were usually treated as badly as victims of concentration camps and then killed. While one cannot ever sugar coat slavery of any kind, the white or the African who was taken to the New World had a far better chance of having offspring who might still be alive today than any slaves taken by the Arabs.
Whether or not more Africans were enslaved by Arabs than by Europeans, or whether more Europeans were enslaved by Arabs than were Africans by Europeans, is not important. Today’s Arabs and Muslims do not owe me an apology because, perhaps, somewhere in my family tree, someone related to one of my fore bearers was hauled off to North Africa. Likewise, even if I were the descendant of a white slaveholder or a slaver, I myself bear zero guilt, shame, or responsibility, and to ask to do so is the height of injustice.
Of course, the issue of ongoing systemic discrimination and prejudice is something that should concern us, and we do have a responsibility to stand up for those who suffer these things. We have a responsibility to be aware of the injustices that still occur, and to do our part to help those who suffer them.
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I will give you an example. A man started talking racist nonsense about black people. So I decided to put a stop to it. I fibbed, but only to make my point, and told him my mother was black. I went on and on about all the things I had seen her suffer, telling him stories that were true things I had seen my black friends go through. He was very remorseful and. finally, I told him, “my mother isn’t black, but if you hate black people, consider me black.” I have done the same thing in defense of Arabs, Muslims, and Jews when I encountered bigotry against them. I do no do this because I am somehow doing penance for what someone who have a similar complexion of mine has done, I do this because as a Christian who has the light of the Gospel, this is what we are called to do- to get between the innocent and the evil. And bigotry is evil.
One must read and absorb Ezekiel 18 and whenever anyone wants to hang anything on YOU other than what YOU have done, not what “the system” has done, not what other people who looked like you have done, but what YOU have done, remember that God Himself condemns such accusations.
EZEKIEL 18 (KJV)
1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,
2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
3 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.
10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
11 And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,
12 Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,
13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
14 Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,
15 That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,
16 Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,
17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.
18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.
19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.
27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.