Imagine an arsonist who burns down a building, killing many of its inhabitants. When the people inside try to flee, he forces them back. Eventually, after many hours of this, he decides to help the people, both inside and outside the building, who are trying to put the fire out. Would we say of this arsonist, “Yes, he may have burned the building down and killed dozens of people, but what really matters is that he threw some water over the fire at the end?” That is akin to the argument of the apologists for empire.

– Kenan Malik, “The Great British Empire Debate”

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