Some of the more dangerous responses to the baleful legacy of the slave trade and slavery threaten to identify as Western and then cast aside the very tools of enlightenment rationalism which helped to establish it as wrong to enslave people in the first place.

More helpful would be to think about stregthening the place of reason with a secular equivalent of the old religious - not only Biblical, since also present in the Hindu Yogi tradition and Islam - idea of atonement. That might have prospects for the future that a simple claim for reparations would not, since the idea of atonement included that of reconciliation, which reparations or compensation do not. Atonement includes repairing wrong or damage, but in addition seeks to achieve good relations with the other(s) in the future.

I do not propose that President Trump should sacrifice a goat on Capitol Hill in the style of Leviticus 16, but the core idea of giving up something important to me as a sign that I am serious about reconciliation still has something to offer. That something can indeed include money, perhaps accompanied by strategies to ensure our debt loaded economies do not open the door to slavery in the future. But what should not be sacrificed is anything valuable to others as well as myself. Science and reasoned thinking must not be casualties of 'decolonialising'. For atonement to work I alone need to be making the sacrifice.

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