Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winston Churchill and Multiculturalist Political Correctness in 1898

By Barry Rubin

If you think things have changed so much from the past, consider a letter Winston Churchill wrote on August 24, 1898. He was a lieutenant with the British force fighting the Islamist state of the Mahdi in Sudan—in some ways a far more successful version of Usama bin Ladin--and which succeeded in destroying it.

When the British column reached the town of Metemmeh, Churchill wrote:

“Metemmeh was a great stronghold of the Jaalins [a tribe almost wiped out by the Mahdi’s armies] and when Mahmoud [commander of a Mahdist army] took it last year he put all the men and children to the sword. He also paraded all the women and selecting forty for even greater horrors had the others decapitated. This paladin is now in Wadi Halfa jail and will probably soon become the object of sympathy among certain classes in England. The correct procedure in his case would be to try him [in court] and if he should be found guilty to hang him….It would, of course, be urged on his behalf that he had only acted according to his nature, and that he should not be judged by our standards. Some people will perhaps admit that plea [but Churchill expects his correspondent would not do so] for I remember that you have several times asserted in my hearing your belief in an eternal standard of right and wrong independent of and superior to climate, custom, and caprice. ”

So it’s all there in 1898: popular sympathy by elements in the elite for a mass murderer and the excusing of his crimes due to the rational of cultural relativism.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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