"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
"The Vikings, raided East Yorkshire in AD793 to destroy our indigenous way of life. By The Guardian’s reckoning the peoples of Norway and Denmark owe me."
The ouroboros, the serpent that consumes its own tail, appeared centuries ago in ancient philosophy. It symbolises many things; the duality of existence, marked by life and death, male and female, light and dark, mortality and divinity.
Though in the case of The Guardian's self-flagellation over slavery, we need a new mythical creature — a monster that disappears up its own arse.
The world's wokest newspaper has announced a paltry sum of £10 million for a “decade-long programme of restorative justice” to atone for historical links to the slave trade. This move comes after research by the University of Hull, and others, established that John Edward Taylor, the journalist and cotton merchant who founded the newspaper in 1821, profited from slavery.
Further, at least nine of his backers who funded The Guardian's creation are also tainted. This connection is well-known but comes to the fore now in the wake of the idea we must all atone for the shit our ancestors perpetrated.
I predicted it was only a matter of time before The Guardian genuflected before the ghost of history. Plus, they've hardly put up enough cash to clean up their imagined sins. The sum of £10 million isn't even a decent lottery win and hence looks like “dollar-washing” to ease guilt.
If they really wanted to humble themselves, a bit of flogging would be worth watching. Or maybe getting their soy-boy reporter Owen Jones to work his passage as a slave.
Of course, The Guardian's apology is barren, meaningless and intellectually insulting. Someone who has nothing to do with slavery apologises to someone else who has nothing to do with slavery. And, after all, as the adage goes, "the past is a foreign country" — they did things differently - and those who insist on judging the past by today's standards only make themselves look ignorant and foolish.
Anyway, applying their thinking, I'm due a load of cash. My recent ancestors, Yorkshire working-class folk, did backbreaking work for a pittance. So where is my compensation from the fat cats who created the centuries of structural economic inequity that my people suffered?
Likewise, those bastards, the Vikings, raided East Yorkshire in AD793 to destroy our indigenous way of life. By The Guardian’s reckoning the peoples of Norway and Denmark owe me. I could go on, but I won’t because it’s silly.
The Guardian's various hypocrisies, twisting of the truth and outright lies are well-known Here’s a few to whet the appetite.
When it sold its 50% stake in Auto Trader to Apax Partners in 2008, the Guardian Media Group used a tax-exempt shell company in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying corporation tax. Over the years, the GMG has invested hundreds of millions in offshore hedge funds. However, they kept it under the radar and beyond the grasp of UK tax authorities.
For sure perfectly legal, but it sits somewhat uncomfortably beside Guardian hacks thundering their disapproval at the tax dodging of large multinationals. Oddly, they never train their guns on their employers.
In 2016, when the Brexit vote came in, the middle-class socialists at The Guardian decided that the "little people" were too ill-informed and easily swayed by lies. Hence, such important decisions should be left to their betters — i.e. The Guardian.
When Aljazeera exposed dodgy practices and clear conflicts of interests at the Guardian refused to see the issue as relevant.
For decades, The Guardian maintained a laser focus on the topic of race decrying institutions such as the police, the judiciary and many others for alleged failing. Yet, the paper sits on a wobbly foundation itself.
The entire editorial board is white, and only 12% of staff are non-white against a national figure of 18%. In an organisation that lectures and lambast others, this figure reveals much.
And finally, while The Guardian wears “free speech” like an insignia, in truth only certain voices are allowed. Anyone who dares to contradict the accepted doctrine must face immediate banishment as feminist Suzanne Moore discovered when she dared to challenge the dogma that “trans women are women”.
This holier-than-thou stance is breathtaking, though utterly unsurprising. For sure there is no hope that a Guardian editorial might ever assess anything on its merits, and stop judging a policy, an action, or a statement based solely on who has espoused it and what tribe they belong to.
For certain, over the years The Guardian has done many sterling pieces of journalism that deserve recognition. The investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone which grew into a wider scandal that brought down The News of World is a standout effort. Still, it constantly drifts into nonsensical feckless identity-issues driving away many middle-ground readers.
The Guardian trumpets, "Comment is free… but facts are sacred". Yet facts are so routinely ignored in favour of their preferred narrative that I wonder how the editors still put out this dictum every day with a straight face.
Here are some facts. Nobody alive today was responsible for the slave trade. Nobody today endorses the slave trade. All races, peoples and groups have suffered terrible things down the ages.
So let's get over it and move on.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.