Woke-ism run amok or long overdue? UK’s apology for failure to honour non-white WWI soldiers triggers ‘structural racism’ debate
A debate on “structural racism” has erupted on social media after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) apologised for not properly commemorating as many as 350,000 black and Asian soldiers who died fighting for Britain.
Following its own inquiry, the CWGC said on Thursday that “pervasive racism” and “contemporary imperial attitudes” had resulted in hundreds of thousands of soldiers from World War I not being memorialised by name, or at all.
In the House of Commons, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace later echoed that sentiment and tendered a formal apology on behalf of the government, promising to “make amends and take action.”
Terming it a “watershed moment” for the country, Labour MP David Lammy then asked whether the government would provide “appropriate resources” to properly honour the fallen soldiers.
“We use the word ‘whitewash’ for a reason. Let there be no more whitewashing. The unremembered will be remembered,” said Lammy, whose work on a 2019 documentary titled ‘Unremembered’ had been the impetus for the CWGC investigation.
It is a travesty that this country failed to properly commemorate Black and Brown people across Africa, India and the Middle East who died for Britain in World War 1. It is a stain that their sacrifice was ignored for so long.The Unremembered must now be remembered. pic.twitter.com/Jium4ZqHHr— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 22, 2021
On social media, however, the conversation quickly veered from an issue of restorative justice into more contemporary discussions on ‘structural racism’.
In a tweet congratulating Lammy, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside Kim Johnson said, “Another day, another example of the structural racism that the discredited CRED (Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities) report says doesn’t exist.”
Another day, another example of the structural racism that the discredited CRED report says doesn't exist: Commonwealth War Graves Commission expected to apologise for commemorating British empire’s black and Asian first world war dead ‘unequally’. Thanks @DavidLammy for raising. https://t.co/8zEknVnmlY— Kim Johnson MP (@KimJohnsonMP) April 22, 2021
A number of other users followed suit, linking the apology to the recent CRED report that found no evidence of “institutional racism” in the UK and suggested social and economic status were greater concerns.
“Could this be construed as an instance of “institutional racism” about which we have heard much recently. Genuinely quite perturbed, because the recent Ommission report indicated there was no IR in post-racial Britain,” one user said.
Another person asked Johnson to “explain how failure to commemorate soldiers 100+ years ago counts as evidence of structural racism in 2021?”
Perhaps you could explain how failure to commemorate soldiers 100+ years ago counts as evidence of structural racism in 2021?— Some recollections may vary (@BlueMouth4) April 22, 2021
Several other users tweeted along similar lines. Some equated it to ‘race-baiting’ while another noted that the “context of the periods involved doesn’t seem to enter into the minds of WOKE pedants.”
no acknowledgement that our own people were conned into that war by the establishment and were treated abysmally. These race baiters have reached the limit now.— RommelLives (@PanzerTigerTank) April 22, 2021
The context of the periods involved doesn't seem to enter into the minds of WOKE pedants and the government shouldn't have to apologise.— All politicians lie precious (@JimmyWillins) April 22, 2021
However, many termed the CWGC apology a non-issue, contending that other concerns took precedence.
“I can only imagine how pleased local populations will be when they hear Britain is cutting humanitarian aid by half a billion pounds but sending in crack statue teams to chisel more names on memorials to colonial wars,” a user said.
The CWGC oversees the graves of over 1.7 million military personnel from the former British Empire who were killed in the two world wars.Also on rt.com UK slams UN experts’ criticism that its race report ‘normalizes white nationalism’
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