Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hands Across The Water?

I suspected it wouldn't be long before local councillors jumped on the Obama bandwagon, &, sure enough, it was less than 24 hours after the Inauguration that the local Liliputians began to act like crazed autograph hunters outside the Stage Door ( ).
On what was presumably a slow news day for Marc Waddington, he writes:
"City leaders hope President Obama will take the opportunity to see first hand the role Liverpool played in the slave trade and its abolition.
"It is also hoped the 44th president's own family connection to Merseyside will be a draw.
"His great, great grandfather, Irishman Falmouth Kearney, sailed from Liverpool to the USA in 1850, looking for a better life.
"Lord Mayor Cllr Steve Rotheram said the USA owed much of its history to Liverpool."
There's more of this self-serving crap in Waddington's piece.
OK, let's take apart this farrago of fabricated, feel-good bollockese.
Obama visits London this April when Gordon Brown hosts the G20 summit. It's highly unlikely that time would be found for Obama to venture anywhere outside the capital. Moreover, the ports of Bristol, Glasgow, Plymouth & Southampton have equally valid claims to consideration as ports which profited from the slave trade. As for the abolition of slavery, there certainly were individuals in Liverpool who took no little risk in calling for an end to a trade which had enriched the port beyond all recognition. The Port & its merchants, however, saw no reason to end that bloody & obscene business; quite the contrary, in fact. Besides, why would Obama wish to be confronted with the legacy of the trade which can be found in the detail of the buildings around the port, particularly Water Street & Brunswick Street?
In addition, the notion that Obama's great, great-grandfather left the port in circumstances which owed nothing to choice & everything to do with neccesity could be a "draw" for him is risible.
And don't you just love that statement of breath-taking civic arrogance & ignorance from Councillor Rotheram? So the US owes "much" of its history to the port, eh, Steve? How much is "much"?
Setting aside the relatively minor detail that America already had a history of its own prior to the Europeans' arrival, the development of the American continent from the 1500s onwards emanated from a myriad of European ports & capitals. Liverpool's role was very much a supporting one.
Like many others, I would be delighted if Obama did visit the city. However, this is no more than civic onanism. Realistically, there's as much chance of the 44th president visiting Liverpool as there is of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al being tried for war crimes at The Hague.
Besides, there could be no justification for Bradley, Storey & the rest buttonholing Obama to tell him what an unqualified success 2008 was.

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