Who's sorry now?
Andrew Hawkins, for one. He and his friends enclosed themselves in chains -- bound for glory -- and asked forgiveness from 25,000 Africans in The Gambia, west Africa.
What had Hawkins done to the Africans that set off such conscience tremors? Well, nothing, but everything. He had allowed himself to be descended from Sir John Hawkins. Once an English hero for helping to defeat the Spanish Armada in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Hawkins is now stripped of his rank and demoted to villain for launching the European slave trade, thereby bringing Europe up to speed with the Muslim middle east and Africa itself.
“There was a huge procession of people representing cultural groups from around Africa,” Mr Hawkins said on his return to England yesterday. “We came in last and the atmosphere changed as we walked up. We knelt down and everything went very quiet.
“We made our apology in French, English and German. I apologised on behalf of my family. I apologised for the adults and children taken. There was a long pause and we didn’t really know what to expect. They could have said: ‘We don’t accept your apology. Go away.’ ”
Fortunately for Hawkins the Younger and his co-inculpationists, the country's vice president "was in a forgiving mood," the news story says. (Or, one suspects, she had the good manners to wait until retiring into the company of her advisors before she and they, quite rightly, fell about laughing and slapping their knees.) Things didn't go so well later in their Calvary charge.
During their visit to The Gambia, Mr Hawkins and his party again wore chains and staged a “reconciliation walk” through the rural village of Juffureh. The local elders were not impressed by the gesture, Mr Hawkins admitted, although their attitude softened after talks with the vistors.
“I think they wanted to see an emotional connection from us, and to see that we had gone there in humility,” Mr Hawkins said. “All I could say was that we have got to do more listening and learning.”
A little more learning might be a dangerous thing for Hawkins. He might learn that most slaves had been captured by African tribes who then sold them to Western traders. (The Gambian vice president might herself be descended from tribal slave merchants.) He might also learn that Britain was the first country in the world to abolish the slave trade, or how Africans behaved toward one another before the white man's intervention, as revoltingly described, for example, in Edward Rice's Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton.
No, Hawkins would probably be best advised to stick to his story. It's a briliant piece of moral gamesmanship. First, he makes a big score by debasing himself, unrolling his guilt like a Persian merchant displaying a carpet. But, you understand, he's not really apologizing for himself; it's a symbolic apology. His heart has metastasized to the point where he's ready to apologize for an ancestor 20 generations back! He begs forgiveness for carrying wicked DNA.
In the Olympics of white race self-hatred, it'll be hard to top that. Although I'm sure someone will, and I can't wait to see who the crown passes to next.
Meanwhile, the wise businessperson will catch a wave by starting the first agency to organize guilt tours. There is hardly a country or ethnic group on this thick planet that hasn't been done the nasty to by somebody else. Entrepreneurs! Listen up!
When You Can Deliver It Yourself?
Guilt Trips Travel™
Others can offer luxury — we promise expiatory punishment.
The money should come rolling in, at least until the Department of Justice's Diversity Enforcement Branch steps in after someone notices that all the guilty customers are white.