Tag Archives: Irish Slavery meme

More On White Slavery

I have received a short comment on my post A Brief Update from somebody called James who seems to be based in England and objected to my criticism of the Irish Slavery meme and my support for the position of Liam Hogan, the Limerick historian who has debunked it. I don’t usually respond to this kind of nonsense but what the Hell! Hogan is right. This rubbish deserves to be criticised by all right-thinking people, regardless of their political beliefs. Here’s the comment:

Definition of the word “Seritude” ? Also no mention of Liam hogans links to far left organisation Open Democracy Or Limerick university – that far left philanthropist George Soros also has links with. If African and Irish immigrants were all in jail, and the africans are treated terribly, this implys the Irish are not prisoners, as there treatment was so much better……Bullshit. How do you explain kidnabbing. Were they servitide contracts as well ?

Yeah, I didn’t mention Liam Hogan’s politics because I neither know nor care what his politics are. And I couldn’t care less about Limerick University’s links to George Soros, if they exist. What interests me is whether Liam Hogan is telling the truth or not and as far as I can see, he is being completely honest while the Irish Slavery promoters are lying their arses off. The fact is, I don’t like the racist and far-right politics that seem to motivate those who support the Irish Slavery meme but if I thought they were telling the truth I would admit that and deal with it, regardless of my attitude towards their political beliefs. The argument about Africans and Irish in prison is really foolish. If we’re talking about people being in prison, they’re prisoners. But indentured servitude and chattel slavery are two different things. Indentured servitude was often (though not always) voluntary, it involved people from many different European countries (including England) and these indentured servants had legal rights and their servitude was time-limited.

In chattel slavery, black people were kidnapped, sold and they had no rights. They and their children and their children’s children were the property of the person who had bought them. If they were tortured, raped or murdered, they had no rights and there was no legal redress.

As for the kidnapping which took place in Ireland between 1653 and 1657, that happened. I’ve discussed it here and Liam Hogan has also discussed it at length. Here’s just a taste of what Liam Hogan said about it:

Cromwellian era forced deportations from Ireland to the British West Indies did not begin in earnest until May 1653 and the total number forcibly deported during the Cromwellian era is roughly estimated by scholars (Corish, Watson, Akenson, et al) to have been around 10-12,000 people. The paucity of records ensures that we will never know the exact number. Kerby Miller (Emigrants and Exiles, 143), Robin Blackburn (The Making of New World Slavery, 247) and Matthew C. Reilly (“Poor Whites” of Barbados, 6) estimate that “several thousand” were banished. These estimates are educated guesses based on contemporary population figures for the islands, allowing for a high mortality rate, pre-existing Irish populations and concurrent voluntary emigration.

In other words, thousands of Irish people were sent to the Americas forcibly as indentured servants. This involuntary kidnapping went on for a few years after the War of the Three Kingdoms ended. These kidnapped people (those who survived) went on to be released, as in the case of Downing and Welch, dealt with on a post here (Niall O’Dowd Answers Critics, April 1st 2017). Some of these former indentured servants were involved in the slave trade themselves. In other words, yes, what happened to those people was bad but it was very different from chattel slavery.

Chattel slavery went on in America until the 1860s. It is estimated that around ten million African people were forcibly removed from their homes and sold in the colonies, where, in general, all their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren were also slaves. So, we are talking at least twenty or thirty million people who were systematically denied any kind of rights and who were systematically treated as less than human during the centuries of slavery.

Now, here’s what I don’t understand. A lot of the Irish population was wiped out during the Cromwellian Wars in Ireland – somewhere between 40% and 20% of the population before the wars. Yet that huge loss of life doesn’t seem to be of any importance to people like you. What you want is Irish slavery. You insist that Irish people were slaves and many of your type insist the Irish were enslaved until the 19th century and there’s a conspiracy to hide that fact. And that, my friend, is total bullshit. Do you think the revolutionary patriots of the 18th and 19th century who hated the English so much wouldn’t have noticed this and written about it? You think it wouldn’t have been a major gripe for people like O’Connell, as many of these Catholic ‘slaves’ would have ended up as Protestants in the colonies? The fact is, whatever motivates people like you to believe this crap is generally to do with white supremacist stupidity, not pride in being Irish.

In short, why don’t you go and read a few books on Irish history instead of insisting on your conclusion before doing any research? Get a proper education and stop filling your head full of this half-baked bigotry and hatred and jealousy.

A Brief Update

This is just a quick update on a few issues we have touched on over the past few months. Firstly, Belfast politician Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who once described Cassidy as a friend and who over the last year or two has had a motto prominently displayed on his Twitter feed in very poor Irish (Bí thusa an t-athrú a ba mhaith leat a fheiceáil ar an domhan.) Perhaps he or one of his team has spotted my criticism, because the offending piece of bad Irish is gone.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen fit to apologise for supporting Daniel Cassidy’s fake etymology and crony friends. As we have also learned recently, Ó Muilleoir, as part of a consortium of Irish businessmen, bought the egregious IrishCentral from Niall O’Dowd last year. Not only that, his daughter Caoimhe Ní Mhuilleoir is apparently employed as a Digital Media Sales Executive at IrishCentral. There’s a coincidence, mar dhea! If anyone was expecting the involvement of the Muilleoirigh to make a difference to the quality of the journalism on IrishCentral, they will be disappointed. The rubbish in support of Daniel Cassidy and against fluoridation, the crap about 4000 year old Celtic invasions of America (I know, it’s insane!), and even the articles which support a white supremacist myth of Irish slavery are still there. The only difference is that the comments which often provide a welcome counterweight to the moronic content of the articles themselves are now missing. Business as usual at IrishCentral, then, in spite of the change of management.

However, Ó Muilleoir isn’t alone in refusing to say sorry or explain himself for supporting this imbecilic revisionist crap. We are still waiting for Hugh Curran to apologise for supporting Cassidy (and implying that he is a native speaker of Irish when he can’t speak the language at all!)

We have also heard nothing back from Columbia University. What do you have to do to get an answer from these people? My advice to any prospective students – go to Cornell instead!

And of course, we’ve never heard a word of apology from the Boston writer Michael Patrick MacDonald for helping to spread these lies about the Irish language. MacDonald is also a crony of Cassidy, as well as a crony of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. (These people all know each other – they’re like some kind of cult.) Having helped to smear the internet with hundreds of fake Irish derivations on behalf of a charlatan who worked as a ‘professor’ in spite of the fact that he had no qualifications at all, these people think they can just walk away whistling with their hands in their pockets and pretend nothing happened. Personally I am dearg le fearg (red with anger) about this abuse of the Irish language. The least we have a right to expect is a heartfelt apology from these high-profile members of the CCC (Cassidy Crony Club).

I was also looking at the AK Press website the other day. Strangely, there is no mention of Cassidy or his book on the website of the company that published it. That suggests to me that this rubbish is finally out of print and that AK Press are kicking over their traces and that they now realise that Cassidy was a fake – a self-obsessed, ignorant, sexist fraud who lied about his qualifications and whose book was a pompous, dishonest piece of cultural appropriation. Why aren’t they doing the right thing, then? Why are they just ignoring the fact that they bestowed this dross on the world, rather than fessing up and asking for forgiveness? Well, business is business. I suppose they have to think about their reputation and their brand identity, just like all the other capitalists … Some radicals!

Finally, I wanted to mention the excellent series of articles by Liam Hogan on the Irish Slavery meme. His articles on the subject are laid out here:

https://medium.com/@Limerick1914/all-of-my-work-on-the-irish-slaves-meme-2015-16-4965e445802a

I recommend that anyone who respects the truth checks it out. And while you’re at it, compare it to the shite on the same subject that’s still there on IrishCentral, courtesy of Niall O’Dowd and his crony friends.

Niall O’Dowd Answers Critics!

A couple of days ago, Niall O’Dowd published a reply to those academics who put their name to Liam Hogan’s open letter criticising him for an article on IrishCentral which supports the idea that the seventeenth-century Irish were victims of enslavement and pointing out that the word slave is an emotive one with a specific meaning. You can find the reply here: http://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/niallodowd/why-the-irish-were-both-slaves-and-indentured-servants-in-colonial-america These Irish people were indentured servants or bonded labourers. Their plight was bad, the circumstances of their kidnap and deportation distressing. But Liam Hogan and others are at pains to point out that they were not chattel slaves the way generations of African-Americans were.

O’Dowd pretty much admits this and claims to deplore the way that the slave label has been used by right-wing groups to play down the legacy of slavery among African Americans.

The controversy has arisen because some far-right groups have claimed that the experience of Irish slaves was interchangeable with (or even in some cases worse than) the experience of black slaves, and have used that as justification for an array of abhorrent racist statements and ideas.

O’Dowd’s answer to his critics is every bit as feeble and incompetent as I would have expected. He mentions a well-known court case where a couple of young men, who were abducted by soldiers and shipped to the Americas against their will from the East Cork area, were effectively sued by their master for a breach of a contract to which they had never consented. To quote O’Dowd:

If we accept that a slave is someone “who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them,” as does the Oxford Dictionary, then I say let’s call it what it was according to those who lived and reported it: slavery AND indentured servitude.

We cannot allow racist whites to delineate our history for us, nor politically correct thinking to ignore and deny that any Irish were ever slaves.

Let’s take a  look at this one case of the Irish experience in the 17th Century in Massachusetts which certainly looked an awful lot like slavery to me.

That the boys were abducted by British soldiers at the end of the Cromwellian Wars is not in doubt. That this was about money and profit is also well known. That it was inhumane and wrong is also obvious. All the actions of the English in overrunning areas of Ireland which had previously been under native control and oppressing and exploiting the people of Ireland in the seventeenth century were immoral. Of course they were!

But we need to be careful about definitions, or we play into the hands of the racists who will claim that the Irish and the African experience are equivalent. In both the court case and the article below, the boys are referred to as slaves. (See the comment below from Liam Hogan. Apparently they were not referred to as slaves in the original document – this is a modern addition.) But when we look at the circumstances, it looks a lot less like chattel slavery as known among African Americans.

Here’s how the court case between William Downing and Philip Welch and their master Mr Symonds came about:

One Sabbath day evening in March, with plowing and planting foremost in his mind, Philip came into the parlor and asked Mrs. Symonds just who would be expected to do all the springtime work. Displeased with her answer he announced that after seven years of service to the family, he and William would work for them no more unless new terms were struck.

William Downing concurred that they had worked for free long enough and both boys reiterated their demands to Samuel Symonds. They knew of other stolen Irish children sent to Barbados who had been released from slavery after just four years. “If you will free us,” said Philip, “and pay us as other men we will plant your corn and mend your fences but we will not work with you upon the same terms as before.”

When one of the servant girls chastised the lads for troubling their master, Mrs. Symonds was heard to say, “let them alone; now they are speaking let them speak their own minds.” Samuel Symonds was not as tolerant of their protests as his wife. “You must work for me still, unless you run away,” he said, leaving no room for further discussion.

The following morning a constable arrived to arrest the boys. Philip Welch softened slightly at the prospect of incarceration and agreed to serve out his time if his master would promise to give him as good a portion of food as any of his children. Even the constable encouraged Symonds to reconsider his strict stance, but the master wouldn’t budge an inch. He filed charges against both slaves and held his ground.

I don’t know about you, but I would have thought that if any black slaves quibbled about their conditions, they would have been flogged to within an inch of their lives. Another point worth considering is that the boys lost the case and were returned to their servitude and O’Dowd leaves it at that. But that isn’t the end of the story. At least two of the four Irish boys mentioned in the case, Phillip Welch the defendant and John Downing, a witness, survived, married and had free children as free men in New England. Their descendants didn’t have to wait until the 19th century to own themselves, and they didn’t have to wait until the 1960s before they were allowed to register to vote. The point is, the very fact that there was a court case at all shows that this was different from chattel slavery. And did you notice the comment about Barbados? The kidnapped children there were apparently released after four years. Nobody disputes that these abductions were disgusting. But the servitude of the Irish exiles was time-limited. And we have to remember that most indentured servants in the colonies were voluntary. They signed up to it of their own volition and the majority of them weren’t Irish.

So, why is Niall O’Dowd sticking to his guns and refusing to back down? Well, I’m still waiting for an apology or retraction for his promotion of Cassidy’s insane book after two years. I personally don’t believe that O’Dowd has the decency to apologise. I believe that because that’s my experience of his behaviour. He’ll keep on splitting hairs and distorting the truth and dissembling, because being Niall O’Dowd means never having to say you got it wrong – even if everybody else can see you got it wrong.

Anyway, I look forward to reading Liam Hogan’s reply to O’Dowd! Hogan is a competent, intelligent man and a genuine historian and I’m sure he’ll make mincemeat out of him …