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12 posts categorized "Hilzoy"

May 11, 2005

There They Go Again...

Guest post by hilzoy

Via Crooked Timber, I see that those wacky guys at Powerline are at it again:

"It's great to see someone standing up for colonialism, especially British colonialism. I agree wholeheartedly with this observation, for example:

Had Britain had the courage to face down Gandhi and his rabble a few years longer, the tragedy that was the partititon of India might have been avoided." (quoting Roger Kimball.)

Offhand, I can't imagine why Kimball or Hinderaker thinks that partition could have been avoided had the British stayed a few years longer. The divisions between Hindus and Muslims were deep, and with Jinnah, the head of the All-India Muslim league, supporting partition, it seems unlikely that given a few more years of unwelcome British rule, everyone would have settled down and decided to get along. Nor is it clear why they think that Gandhi was the person who should have been faced down: he consistently opposed partition, and was assassinated because he was seen by Hindu nationalists as having given away too much in his efforts to keep India's Muslims from seeking a separate state.

But it's not the misreading of Indian history that's really breathtaking; it's the phrase "Gandhi and his rabble." Gandhi was not perfect, but for John Hinderaker to look down on him with contempt suggests a level of moral self-delusion that is, in its way, awe-inspiring.

I mean, this is a guy who accused Jimmy Carter of treason, and when he was told that he was wrong about one of the events that formed the basis for this accusation, said: "As to the 1980 election, I'm no expert...". (Before you accuse someone of treason, I think you ought to make yourself an expert.) He's a guy who can say this (movie) with a straight face:

""I mean, as far as I can tell, the left doesn't care about terrorism, doesn't care about the Islamofascists, doesn't care about hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. All they care about is their own power. All they care about is regaining the presidency. All they care about is defeating President Bush. And, I think that the left, and by "the left" I'm including now almost the entire Democratic Party, you can count exceptions on your fingers, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, you can name the exceptions. The whole mainstream of the Democratic party, I would say, is engaged in an effort that really is a betrayal of America. What they care about is not winning the war on terror. What they care about is defeating President Bush. And I think that the positions that they're taking, the things that they're doing and saying, are significantly impeding the progress of the war, and give great encouragement to our enemies. And I indict them for that. I don't think they care about the danger to us as Americans nor do they care about the danger to people in other countries. They care about power." "

"Gandhi and his rabble". Wow.

[Cross-posted, more or less, at Obsidian Wings.]

May 09, 2005

I'm Late! I'm Late!

I have been a bad guest blogger so far, since (as I told Lindsay when I agreed to do this) I spent the weekend getting acquainted with my new nephew, now about two and a half weeks old (and unbelievably cute.) I love kids; at this stage, I tend to be fascinated by the question: what on earth is it like to try, with that endearing total earnestness that infants have, to figure out an entirely new world without the benefit of an already existing mind to help you out? I love trying to figure out new languages and cultures; what on earth would it be like to try to work out an entire world, from scratch? How kids manage this is a complete mystery to me, but I can spend hours watching them try.

Whenever I do, after a few hours of lying down with a perplexed infant snuggled on top of me, I find myself wondering: and how on earth would I be thinking about this if I hadn't read Rousseau? Rousseau was admittedly a jerk, and insane, and of course he did give up his own kids. But he was also one of the most insightful thinkers about kids ever. He thought, for instance, that the origin of idolatry is the fact that when an infant wants an object and screams at it to come, it generally does. That thought alone, with its mixture of insight and sheer oddness, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

(cross-posted at Obsidian Wings.)