Sunday, August 23, 2015

Will Durant: "...I had come upon the greatest crime in all history"

Previously mentioned on these pages was William Jennings Bryan's assessment of the British rule of India, written around 1905-06:
While he has boasted of bring peace to the living he has led millions to the peace of the grave;  while he has dwelt upon order established between warring troops he has impoverished the country by legalized pillage.   Pillage is a strong word, but no refinement of language can purge the present system of its iniquity.
About twenty-five years later, Will Durant,  the American writer, historian and philosopher, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, made his assessment of the British Raj, and wrote a book - The Case for India, published in 1930.   The foreword to his book is reproduced below.

Reliable sources tell me that per honorable men like Brutus, the reproduction of such sentiments today amounts to hate speech.  Well, I am glad to be spewing hate speech in the company of Bryan and Durant.   
I repeat myself - Britain should be shorn of its "Great", and the United Kingdom should dissolve and  vanish into the pages of history -- they do not deserve to continue any more than the German National Socialists.   At best they perpetrated the second greatest crime in history (Will Durant wrote his words before Hitler ascended to power).   If this is hate speech, then "Hate Speech Zindabad!".

Will Durant – The Case for India (1930)

A Note To The Reader

I went to India to help myself visualize a people whose cultural history I had been studying for The Story of Civilization. I did not expect to be attracted by the Hindus, or that Ishould be swept into a passionate interest in Indian politics. I merely hoped to add a little to my material, to look with my own eyes upon certain works of art, and then to return to my historical studies, forgetting this contemporary world.

But I saw such things in India as made me feel that study and writing were frivolous things in the presence of a people– one-fifth of the human race – suffering poverty and oppression bitterer than any to be found elsewhere on the earth. I was horrified. I had not thought it possible that any government could allow its subjects to sink to such misery.

I came away resolved to study living India as well as the India with the brilliant past; to learn more of this unique Revolution that fought with suffering accepted but never returned; to read the Gandhi of today as well as the Buddha of long ago.

And the more I read the more I was filled with astonishment and indignation at the apparently conscious and deliberate bleeding of India by England throughout a hundred and fifty years. I began to feel that I had come upon the greatest crime in all history.

And so I ask the reader's permission to abandon for a while my researches into the past, so that I may stand up and say my word for India. I know how weak words are in the face of guns and blood; how irrelevant mere truth and decency appear beside the might of empires and gold. But if even one Hindu, fighting for freedom far off there on the other side of the globe, shall hear this call of mine and be a trifle comforted, then these months of work on this little book will seem sweet to me. For I know of nothing in the world that I would rather do today than to be of help to India.

October 1, 1930

Note: This book has been written without the knowledge or co-operation, in any form, of any Hindu, or of any person acting for India.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

From the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. 
Some selections below - not necessarily the best, just some of those that most tickled me. :)

From 2015:
Sherlock Holmes brusquely dismissed his companion’s theory that the victim had died from an allergic reaction to either seasoning or seafood, saying “Watson, although the problem is alimentary, it is neither the Thyme nor the Plaice.” — Owen Roberts, Edina, MN

From 2013:
It was a tricky situation, given the complex behavioral instincts of the Lowland Gorilla, and this accidental group encounter with a silver-backed dominant male was taxing Professor Wiesenheimer’s knowledge of interspecies primate interaction to the limit, yet confidently and without hesitation, he turned to his startled pupils and whispered, “Run like Hell.” — Mark Watson, Raleigh, NC

 From 2012:
Professor Lemieux had anticipated that his latest paper would be received with skepticism within the small, fractious circle of professional cosmologists, few of whom were prepared to accept his hypothesis that our universe had been created in a marijuana-induced industrial accident by insectoid aliens; nevertheless, he was stung when Hawking airily dismissed it as the Bug Bong Theory. — Alan Follett, Hercules, CA
 From 2004:
Galileo Galilei gazed expectantly through his newly invented telescope and then recoiled in sudden horror – his prized thoroughbred’s severed neck, threateningly discarded in a murky mass of interstellar dust (known to future generations as the Horsehead Nebula), left little doubt about where the Godfather and his Vatican musclemen stood on the recent geocentric/heliocentric debate. — Don Mowbray, San Antonio, TX


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rajiv Malhotra: Fighting the Sepoys of the Leftist-Evangelist mafia.

Rajiv Malhotra roars!

PS: Via Rajan, Koenraad Elst's analysis: "... the larger context that explains the different forces at work here."

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Hummingbird moth

The wild bergamot brought in hummingbird moths, which I've never seen before in my garden.  Not a great shot, but proof positive. :)

Friday, August 07, 2015

Wild Bergamot Flower

A close-up of the wild bergamot flower.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Butterfly bush

A moth perches on a butterfly bush flower.  With the wild bergamot nearby, anything visiting the butterfly bush is a rarity.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Trumpet vine flower

The trumpet vine flower is supposed to attract hummingbirds, and I've had one in the backyard for years now, from an earlier half-hearted attempt to be hummingbird-friendly.  This year it is flowering quite profusely, relative to previous years (though still not very impressive).

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Cardinal flower

I have a new stand of cardinal flower in the backyard.  It is for hummingbirds, or apparently, the few species of butterflies with sufficiently long proboscis.

Monday, August 03, 2015

More Zinnias

Sunday, August 02, 2015

White Zinnia

Shaking the dust off camera equipment.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Wild Bergamot

The bees, wasps, moths, butterflies all go wild over wild bergamot, I've never seen anything like it.