Following up on a contentious interview with a British historian over his country's dark history of colonialism, MSNBC host Ali Velshi took time out from coverage of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II to elaborate on his earlier accusations.
Noting that he was getting blowback on social media over the inappropriateness of his mentioning the touchy topic so soon after the queen's death, Velshi suggested Britain's history of brutal suppression should not be glossed over.
"How about we talk a little bit more about colonialism," he began. "The first Elizabethan era ended when Queen Elizabeth the First died in 1603. Her 45 year reign was, quote, 'a golden age,' though I guess that depends on your perspective which marked England's emergence as an ambitious and ruthless global power."
"Elizabeth the First heavily encouraged privateering, granting charters or trading and exploration rights to private companies which paved the ways for an intercontinental empire," he continued.
He then added, "Centuries later, the second Elizabethan era has just ended with the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The two reigns invite easy comparison and they are tethered by their unique position in the timeline of British colonialism; the beginning and the beginning of the end. In the 1920's, the British empire was at its zenith, ruling and controlling the natural resources and economic output of around a quarter of the world's entire population -- about 413 million people at the time."
"Nightfall for the empire was on the horizon by the time Elizabeth became queen," he continued. "It was ushered in by the colonized, not by the colonizer. In 1947, a few months after Queen Elizabeth II's 21st birthday, but five years before she became the monarch, Britain would lose one of its most crucial imperial possessions, India, and the newly partitioned Pakistan. For more than a century, Britain had exploited local rulers, workers, and resources in India; flooding the British economy with cotton and cash."
"India not only paved the way for Britain's massive global rise, but funded the continued progress of the industrial revolution," he elaborated. "Remnants of colonialism in India continue in the conflict between India and Pakistan, and India's continued colonization of Kashmir. I don't need to make a metaphor here: the 105 carat diamond which sits in one of the three royal consort crowns is a spoil of war from India."
"The death between 20,000 and 100,000 people in the Mau Mau Uprising in my birthplace of Kenya in 1950s. The opium wars in China. Lesser known atrocities like civilian torture in Cypress. The continued mess which is Israel and Palestine today," he ticked off. "All of it is the legacy of British colonialism. Queen Elizabeth was widely respected and admired. But if you're having mixed feelings about the mourning of the queen and the institution that she represented for so many decades, that's valid, and you're not alone."
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