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A BRITISHER’S VIEW: The aggrieved take a low shot at Barclays Bank

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Blood money? Calm down. Bruce Ratner’s multi-million dollar deal to name his Brooklyn Nets sports arena after a 300-plus-year British financial institution has run technically afoul with opponents who claim the pact is no slam-dunk because of Barclays Bank’s dealings with South Africa’s segregationist government, Hitler’s Nazis and the African slave trade. Naysayers are dribbling disgust on the bandwagon in their haste to axe the corporate logo agreement between the Atlantic Yards developer and Great Britain’s third largest bank over time-worn grievances, which have been laundered in public, humbly compensated with greenbacks and appropriately placed in the framework of world history where they belong for current generations to emancipate themselves from and future generations to learn from. Age-old nations and their societies, who have helped steer, shape and – in most, if not all, cases – cast shame upon the course of history, continue to thrive today because of a concerted program of amendment without which they would have extinguished a long time ago. To its credit, Barclays dissolved its relationship with South Africa’s apartheid government a full eight years before the 1994 elections, which finally quenched that country’s racist regime. To its credit, in 1999, Barclays remunerated – to the tune of millions – Jewish Holocaust victims for their suffering. As for its dabbling in the slave trade, Barclays Bank was part and parcel of an era, which was trafficked in – plus promoted and profited from – by a vast, international rainbow of mid-18th century commercial enterprises, many of which maintain their operations on the North American Continent, today; among them, JP Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank, Lehman Brothers, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Loews Corporation, to name a few. Moreover, class action lawsuits, brought against corporate America by African Americans and seeking refunds for the misery of their forefathers, have been aired in this nation’s courts for years and deftly dismissed because of their tenuousness. It is a matter of public record that ancient history boasts candid chapters on the enslavement of people, which the Egyptians, Babylonians and Sumerians routinely practiced with institution and without conscience. Similarly, the 1600’s became known as a commercial launching pad for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which was based in the Windward Coast and Senegambia, and notorious for furnishing Islamic trans-Saharan traders with slaves. Before slamming Barclays Bank for its contextual past, it is worth noting that Great Britain passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 and cemented it with the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 – a good 32 years before the United States of America rinsed out its own stain of “blood money.” E-mail “A Britisher’s View” at BritView@courierlife.net. All letters become the property of Courier-Life Publications and are subject to publication unless otherwise specified; please include your name, address and daytime telephone number for verification.

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