The response to the Prof Usu tweet wishing for a painful death upon the late Queen Elizabeth II has resulted in backlash but not nearly the right kind. The heat of her rancor is concerning but what is most concerning is the utter lack of syllogism. The tweet was bat-shit stupid. Jeff Bezos responded to its tone but not its message. When responding to any objectionable message, it should be analyzed and deconstructed, if possible, as opposed to something hasty and emotional.
The professor seemed to overlook a number of obvious things. The professor seemed to have wanted the queen to have gone back in time and made the British empire not happen. A woman born in 1926 can’t stop the birth of an empire in 1585; 341 years earlier. The best the queen could have done was the end the empire so why didn’t she do that? Why didn’t the queen oversee the ending of the British Empire? Oh fuck! She did! Even if we pretend that the monarchy was not ceremonial for the entirety of the Queen’s reign, Her Majesty oversaw the ending of the British Empire. If she did have political power we didn’t know about, most of the empire was gone within a decade of Elizabeth’s rising to the throne.
I recently saw a Facebook meme where a feminist complained that women could not have their own credit cards until 1973. Why complain about a battle the good guys won nearly a half-century ago? I come from the activist left and they are infamous for their love of martyrdom and hatred of victory. The British have Brexit, Russian oligarch money, and way more bad things but why complain about shit we (the left) won? They’re metaphorically shooting a corpse to make it more dead. The British Empire is long gone, you can’t make it end sooner than it did. Victories are something to celebrate, not pretend they didn’t happen to justify not forgiving the oppressors later. Gandhi and the good guys won and it is wrong to pretend they didn’t.
Of course, nowadays, Gandhi is a villian because he slept with late-teenage girls (without having sex with them) and had racist thoughts about Black people when living in South Africa. It is reducing people to the sum of the worst thing they’ve ever done. If you listen to some of these people, you’d think Gandhi was a hybrid of Jeffery Epstein and Cecil Rhodes. Gandhi was not a monster and whatever her flaws, neither was the late queen. I understand the professor was seeking the dopamine which rage rewards her with but she should realize this hatred is a neurochemical addiction that divorces her from reality. These people don’t truly, through rational analysis, believe Gandhi or the queen were evil but hatred gives them a shot of dopamine.
It is a miserable and bleak view of history that after a peaceful ending of an oppression to pretend that it never ended and hatred is justified forever. It stands to reason since hatred gives people shots of dopamine and if it doesn’t end then one might assume the dopamine will keep flowing. There is a legacy of colonialism but sixty years on, those countries are responsible for most of their own problems. The ones they aren’t responsible for are the fault of the Chinese trapping them in debt. I disagree with Dereck Parfit’s approach to personal identity in theory but do agree with it in practice and, especially, when applied to political history.
Africans and Indians aren’t hapless and helpless victims of European powers living in squalor and destitituion; they are modern people with modern problems with iPads and vegan places and city parks. They have nationslists, violent jihadists, environmental destruction, debt to China, and major contemporary maladies but European imperialism is five universes behind them in everything except memory and the only real justification for hatred is the dopamine it gives but that dopamine is vastly outweighed by the cortisol it unleashes.
My two biggest problems with that professor’s tweet were the level of hatred and the divorce from reality to justify it. The latter is worse. It’s pseudohistory because to rationalize it she had to pretend a ceremonial monarch had political power, ignore the fact the British Empire ended under said monarch’s reign, attribute the actions of politicians and colonists to a figurehead who had nothing to do with them except symbolically represent them, and to pretend that her position was her choice as opposed to an accident of birth. Politics based on alternative facts is a major etiology of fascism.