Slavery, statues and knowing when to stop

Jul 5, 2020 by

by Michael Nazir-Ali, The Article:

Slavery is a stain on humanity. There have been slaves of every race and colour throughout history. Civilisations from Italy to India and from America to Africa have been implicated in the trading and ownership of slaves. In both the Hellenistic world and in the Roman Empire, slavery was widespread. Society and the economy depended on this institution. There was slavery of different kinds in ancient India, for example, debt related slavery, war booty or captivity for ransom. The Vedas and the Buddhist writings lay down rules about what slaves can be expected to do and how they should be treated.

In the Arab world, slavery existed before the rise of Islam and continued to be practised right up to modern times. The Arabs were pioneers in the slave trade with Africa and European slavers learnt much about their business from them. The conquest of the Sind led to the enslavement of some of the local population and the subsequent Muslim Empires in India had both Turkic and Indian slaves. Slavery seems also to have been endemic in Africa, with people reduced to it because of debt, war or the need for plantation labour. It was often the local rulers who sold people to the Arab and European slave traders

If then we are to start removing statues and other memorials to people involved in slavery in some way, where do we start and where do we stop? Plato and Aristotle were slave owners. Aristotle’s writing justifies the institution and has been used in the West to defend slavery. In the Bible, Abraham and Sarah had slaves, as did King David. Moses is supposed to have legislated about how slaves were to be treated. Jesus himself healed the slave of a Roman Officer and said of the latter that he had not found such faith even in Israel. St Paul sent a runaway slave back to his master — the list could go on.

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Read also: Denouncing the dead is easy, but it does nothing for living slaves by Daniel Johnson, The Article

Slavery Rampant in Africa, Middle East; The West Wrongly Accuses Itself by Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute

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