The replies to this tweet/op-ed are full of people reminding David Lammy about the shocking abuse of the Bengalis by Churchill, and reminding us of some of his greatest, racist quotes. This prompts a quick thought... 1/n
Perhaps we tolerate obvious rights-abusers like Churchill in our national story because, regardless of the bad things they did, they set us on a trajectory that we nevertheless approve of (at least in the context that Lammy is talking about in the article). 2/n
We celebrate Churchill’s promotion of human rights and overlook his violations because (done right) they lead inexorably towards a situation where Churchill’s own abuse of colonised people would be prevented or punished. 3/n
I think people like Thomas Jefferson might fall into the same category. How come a slave-owning rapist still gets venerated? I think possibly because a repudiation of those evils follows from Jefferson’s own philosophy. 4/n
By promoting a system of government based on the ‘self evident’ truth that ‘all men are created equal’ Jefferson sowed the seeds of the abandonment of the practices he indulged in. 5/n
I think this is a preferable way to discuss these men: They did awful things, but they somehow made *us* better. 6/n
The alternative is either to write off all their political work as tainted by their personal abuses; or to somehow write off those abuses with the “they were just a product of their time” cliche. 7/n
I should add for the avoidance of doubt that of course none of this seeks to excuse the outrages committed by Churchill or Jefferson. Rather, I’m trying to describe the discourse and defend continuing engagement with their ideas. 8/n
Because that’s the thing: their ideas are worth discussing, and promoting, and saving. Precisely because (I repeat) they’re the ideas that would stop slavery and the abuses inherent in colonialism. 9/n
I’m not a historian so it’s probably perilous for me to extemporise half formed thoughts on such subjects. But this is Twitter and someone might help me iterate towards a more refined version of this; or else, debunk it. 10/end.
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More from @robertsharp59

8 Dec
Gah. I just managed to pocket dial someone, and then unwittingly left a 6 minute voicemail of various domestic conversations. I’m absolutely mortified.
I say ‘pocket dial’ but what I actually did was press the button on my Bluetooth headphones to try and switch off the podcast I was listening to. I think Siri must have activated, and interpreted whatever I said as a request to call someone. 2/n
This is an entirely 21st Century embarrassment, made possible only through the invention of at least three major technologies (mobile phones, Bluetooth, voice recognition), with my bright red face at their confluence. 3/n
Read 9 tweets
27 Sep
This crazy story about a university claiming that posters in a window “break the law” is a good example of how chaotic and inconsistent law-making can lead to a denial of liberty. Quick thread. 1/n
I’ve been doing some reading on the ‘chilling effect’ recently. It’s usually used with regards to freedom of expression, but it’s a term imported from US legal thought, and can be applied to any kind of liberty or lawful activity. 2/n
Supreme Court Justice William Brennan warned of how a ‘chill’ can be “generated by vagueness, overbreadth and unbridled discretion” of laws/state powers used to curb speech. (Dissent in Walker v City of Birmingham, 388 US 307 in 1967)
Read 17 tweets
24 Sep
My first thought when reading this was to think of a solution. What barristers had some kind of badge? Or what if barrister wigs and gowns were reinstated in Magistrates Courts?

This was the wrong thought. Because...
We shouldn’t need freakin’ badges to stop people making racist assumptions.

If I had the emoji keyboard installed then between every word in that sentence would be a clap icon.
ASIDE: The other day I experienced the opposite of this. I had to go to hospital for a thing, and I turn up in my generic work clothes - smart shoes, trousers, shirt, no tie - with my office lanyard around my neck.
Read 5 tweets
23 Sep
Right so I know this is probably a first world problem but I’m going to indulge myself with a moan about... plastic bags from @Ocado 1/6
During the spring lockdown, we were pretty conscientious about avoiding the shops and doing more online deliveries.

At about the same time, @Ocado stopped its programme of recycling plastic bags, because that could obviously be a source of virus transmission. 2/6
The problem with this is that every time we have a delivery, we get about a dozen plastic bags. In the before times, I would just hand bags from the previous shop back to the delivery driver and get a 5p rebate. But recently they’ve been piling up in the garage. 3/6
Read 6 tweets
12 Sep
One thing I think about a lot is what headlines and political messaging would look like if liberals/progressive adopted some of the tabloidy, accuracy-stretching tactics we see deployed by the Johnson right. This news story might be a good case study.
‘Johnson set your opt out of human rights laws’ reads the headline. Now, if you read the article, you’ll see that he wants to opt out of very specific human rights measures, on immigration and when soliders can be prosecuted for acts committed while on operations.
However, one can argue that to derogate from some provisions in the human rights laws and treaties is to undermine the entire framework. And if that’s true, then attacking one human right is to attack them all.
Read 5 tweets
11 Sep
Who remembers Abu Qatada? He was accused of terrorism and seems a security risk, but Theresa May had a torrid time trying to deport him to Jordan because she couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t be tortured. 1/4
How did we get rid of Abu Qatada eventually? Oh yes... A TREATY! Mrs May was able to satisfy the courts that he wouldn’t be subjected to torture, because we could rely on Jordan to abide by the terms of the treaty. 2/4
If Jordan had announced it was prepared to break treaties in a “specific and limited way” then the protections against torture for Abu Qatada would have been deemed not worth the paper they were written on. And he would still be here. 3/4
Read 4 tweets

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