Wednesday, March 08, 2006

# Posted 12:33 PM by Patrick Porter  

A BRAWL BETWEEN TWO CULTURAL RELATIVISTS...IN BRITISH COLONIAL INDIA: Australian culture warrior Keith Windschuttle reports that Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, signed an agreement with local Hindu leaders that he would respect all their customs, except for the practice of suttee, the incineration of widows. The Hindu leaders protested. Napier replied:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
They don't make arguments about 'other people's cultures' like they used to.
(17) opinions -- Add your opinion

Love it!


Didn't you get the memo?
All colonisers are evil.
All colonised are innocent victims.
Your story goes against 40 years of leftist indoctrination.
Watch your back.
in general I reckon colonisation did involve a lot of bad things, but this quote struck me for making
the cultural relativist argument
far more interesting than it was
at university.

just checked out your websites, makes me feel positively prudish and boring
and you wonder why the Indians revolted in 1857, and Charles Naiper and his moralizing types were banished....
hey anonymous,

no-one's arguing that Napier's approach to incinerating wives made him or the British popular with the Indians. At least, I'm not arguing that. I knew someone would refuse to laugh at this and get all indignant.

I seem to recall "Black Jack" Pershing having some problems with Islamic fighters in the Phillipines. After shooting them, he had the bodies buried with pig carcasses (?). Kind of took the momentum out of the movement. And I recall the Soviets treating some Islamic kidnappers with great disrespect for their religious beliefs. Something about being buried with their manhoods sewn in their mouths. Well, at least we've evolved. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.
Hmmm, some Googling says the Pershing story is apocryphal. Oh well, so much for my memory.
I don't see what the big deal is. I burned my brothers widow.

Sonia, have you been visiting Egyptian blogs lately?
Napier was a pretty funny guy. To inform the British that he had captured the province of Sind (in modern day Pakistan) he sent a one word dispatch: "Peccavi" (latin for: I have sinned).
In re Napier:

'Peccavi' - I've Sind - wrote Napier so proud;
More briefly Dalhousie wrote 'Vovi' - I've Oudh.

(Vovere, to vow; James Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India 1848-56; Oudh, former name of province of Ayodhya, annexed 1856.)
To bad we didn't let you imperialist British pigs all learn to speak German 50 years ago....well, I suppose with the EU that will happen anyway.

Sonia, have you been visiting Egyptian blogs lately?

No. Why? Which Egyptian blogs?
I'm not British so the point doesn't apply to me. Its a little eccentric of you, though, to infer that the Kaiser's Germany was not imperialistic. West Africa, anyone? Long-term colonial ambitions in Asia, Africa, and then the continent? Hitler's war to enslave the Slavic peoples?

True, the British empire was bigger, but that just suggests that they got a head start (Germany wasn't officially a nation until 1871) and that they were better at colonial expansion than you. The Euros were all imperialists at heart
In re peccavi... via a learned lady called Bonnie:

Wendy Doniger spent quite a bit of time looking at the "peccavi"/"I have Sindh" anecdote in her "'I Have Scinde': Flogging a Dead (White Male Orientalist) Horse," Journal of Asian Studies 58(4), 940-960, November 1999.

There, she also points out that: '[t]he authors of the Punch item [humorously attributing "peccavi" to Napier] may have been inspired by another apocryphal historical anecdote, which was linked with the peccavi story as early as 1875 and was in circulation for some time before that: it tells us that someone [usually Sir Francis Drake himself] who had witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada announced it with one word: "Cantharides," which is the Latin and pharmaceutical name of the aphrodisiac drug known as "the Spanish fly."'

[For this anecdote, Doniger cites, Rowley, Hugh, ed. 1875. More Puniana; or, Thoughts Wise and Other-Why's. London: Chatto and Windus; pp. 166-167.]

And let's not forget that after the capture of Lucknow in 1857 Lord Clyde (or one of his officers) is supposed to have telegraphed home, "Nunc fortunatus sum," i.e., "I am in luck now."
Egyptian Sandmonkey highlighted a stupid comment by someone named Sonia. It was about humanizing suicide bombers etc.. and I thought it was retarded. Then I read you comment at 4:12 and I thought it was a joke. Which it wasn't, so oh well. Safe bet between you and me that this is the most pointless comment (outside of spam) that OxBlog gets this year.
Different Sonia...

I never commented on Tomanbay...

And my comment here at 4:12 was a joke...
I know your comment at 4:12 was a joke. I didn't know if the other comment by the other sonia was a joke or retarded. This has been resolved thank you for your time.
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