Tradition trampled

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 02:11 pm

Mark Steyn applauds an historical example of multiculturalism:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee”—the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

’‘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.”

Damn imperialists.

UPDATE. Not all traditions are abandoned on the subcontinent:

An Indian couple has been ordered by Muslim clerics to separate after the man uttered “talaq” – or divorce – three times while asleep.

Robert Fisk is Indian?

Posted by Tim B. on 03/27/2006 at 10:58 AM
    1. Can’t say what General Sir Charles had there was a failure to communicate.

      Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 03 27 at 11:11 AM • permalink


    1. Could anyone possibly get away with being that “insensitive” today? I wouldn’t be surprised if that incident is used in cultural anthropology lectures as an example of the worst sort of, yes, Western Imperialism™.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 03 27 at 11:12 AM • permalink


    1. After burning the widows, I wonder what they did with the kids?

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 03 27 at 11:22 AM • permalink


    1. Reminds me of the old story about the missionary who was boiled and eaten by a tribe in africa. It seems that the tribe subsequently got food poisoning, because, you see, he was a friar…

      Posted by Mr. Bingley on 2006 03 27 at 11:32 AM • permalink


    1. Texas Bob — Charcoal briquets.  Which was, like, a major problem, since their religion wouldn’t let them eat steaks and burgers…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 03 27 at 11:33 AM • permalink


    1. Another Steyn article quoted and linked? Is that five or six in a week? Somebody’s in lurrrvvvve.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 27 at 11:40 AM • permalink


    1. Sod off, LLL.

      Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 03 27 at 11:47 AM • permalink


    1. Proud, but scared, Christian convert Abdul Rahman has been told he will be released, the question now is when, and if he will survive long enough to get the hell out of that country with his head where it is supposed to be. So Sharia Law is The Law in Afghanistan right now? How’s that sit with all the freedom and democracy? That was kept pretty quiet.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 27 at 12:06 PM • permalink


    1. #6: I think it’s because Steyn is tough to beat as a writer who combines perspicacity with genuine wit and the occasional LOL one-liner. Also, he isn’t afraid to put things in very blunt perspective (vide his quotation of General Napier). This is courageous, honest writing – regardless of whether one actually agrees with his political outlook – and compares favorably with the garden variety scribbling of the MSM’s imbecilariat, with its heavy concentration of humorless ideology, false objectivity, and quavering pusillanimity.

      Posted by paco on 2006 03 27 at 12:10 PM • permalink


    1. #9, Agreed, it’s a dry, and very witless, op-ed world out there in MSMLand. Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun can be pretty funny, sometimes, but the Humour-In-Wartime newspaper fields are pretty bare right now, probably why Steyn gets picked up in so many territories. People still need to laugh.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 27 at 12:18 PM • permalink


    1. There is one difference between what General Napier did in India and what we can do in Afghanistan (or Iraq, for that matter).  Britain occupied India for centuries, and made no bones about the fact that they effectively “owned” the country.  We’re not doing that in Afghanistan.  It’s going to be difficult to change centuries of religious and traditional intolerance, and we certainly won’t do it in a few months’ time.  Karzai’s compromise saved the man from public execution.  It’s a tiny, tiny step, but I think it’s an important one, when you consider that previous governments would have just beheaded Rahman and been done with it.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 03 27 at 12:24 PM • permalink


    1. I admit that I don’t read this blog every day, nor follow every thread, but I’m really getting confused: How many people here are posting under the nic, “LeftieLatteLover”?

      Is it possible that any one person could present so many differing viewpoints, or is LLL just troll-baiting?

      Posted by Challeron on 2006 03 27 at 12:30 PM • permalink


    1. Heh, all that lady has to do is remarry and divorce and get married with her husband. Under Sharia law, that is a very simple procedure, lasting at most 2 days. First – find a guy to marry you. Take an unlucky cousin brother if you must. Marry me, and get him to say talaq three times.

      There. Done. Then remarry the husband.

      Posted by Rajan R on 2006 03 27 at 12:39 PM • permalink


    1. #11 And no one would have ever known anything about it either.  The collective “We” of the West will have a hard time trying to figure the Middle East unless we can get over assuming they think as us.  I work with Iraqis daily, and I’m fast learning better ways to deal with them.  An older gentleman, who has been here longer than me, offered this advice, “Assume everything they tell you is a lie, until they prove otherwise.” Its a strange world.

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 03 27 at 12:43 PM • permalink


    1. #12, troll-baiting.  Witness the mean-spirited sarcasm of his first post in this thread.  It’s wise to ignore him, or you’ll get sucked into a never-ending quagmire of evasion and denial.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 03 27 at 12:44 PM • permalink


    1. #15 I’m done with the mutant as well RebeccaH.

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 03 27 at 12:59 PM • permalink


    1. Steyn can take a three page column and make it fun to read.  After reading it, you re-read it just for the witty statements.  In the end you can’t help but walk away with a very good understanding of what Mark is trying to say.

      Contrast that with most leftwing writers and bloggers who can take 100 words and cobble it together in such a ham-fisted manner that one feels like he’s back in college assigned to read a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem.  More times than not, one finishes it with not the slightest idea what he just read, and giving up on trying a second go of it.

      All things considered, isn’t the key requirement for a good writer is to encourage the reader to read his writing, slowly, carefully, and enthusiastically,  understanding the message in the end?

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 03 27 at 01:10 PM • permalink


    1. RebeccaH, I’ve seen plenty of whacked-out leftoid goal-post moving from LLL; but … every now and then I see some “compassionate conservative”-type posting, or at least something sounding reasonably intelligent, and it’s still posted by “LeftieLatteLover”; and, I have to admit, sometimes I nibble on the bait: The only reason I haven’t been hooked yet is that I rarely have time to get involved in any real dialogue with anyone (I’m already late from my lunch break now).

      Still, I can’t help but wonder (naif that I am): He seems intelligent enough; is this troll-baiting just some sort of ego-trip, frustration-venting because the world doesn’t fit his preconceived notions perhaps?

      Posted by Challeron on 2006 03 27 at 01:34 PM • permalink


    1. Some time ago, a very serious debate gripped the attention of Pakistan’s clerics. A raging debate swept the country.

      If a man is acting with his wife and while acting, following the script, pronounces “talaaq,” does he become divorced from his wife in actuality?

      Posted by Muslihoon on 2006 03 27 at 02:07 PM • permalink


    1. I learned something recently about Abdul Rahman: When he returned to Afghanistan from Germany (where his conversion to Christianity took place), he was turned over to the authorities by his parents.

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 03 27 at 03:20 PM • permalink


    1. “We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die.”

      I’m always amused when these mooks start worrying about embarassing the creator of the universe.

      He never could look after himself, I guess.

      Posted by mojo on 2006 03 27 at 03:48 PM • permalink


    1. #18, Very perceptive. You can take LLL#6 as typical of the contribution “it” makes. You will get a “compassionate conservative” blog after it has made such a damn fool of itself that it needs something to enable itself to crawl back to the notice of anyone. We know much about it, if you can believe anything it writes. It is a world traveling teenie who is involved with a world-wide effort by teenagers to refuse to serve in any war for any reason at any time. (Some would call this unprincipled cowardice.) He also gratuitously insults those about him but whines piteously when insulted. You are correct to question whether it is one person or several. The additional question is, does it (they) troll here under other names? The techniques of evasion, holier than thou attitude, sermonizing, misrepresenting what others write, specious reaoning are all characteristic of some others who have passed by and not been heard from again on TB. I myself have advised others not to indulge its cravings for attention and be sucked into the fever swamps it inhabits, but must admit, it is so obnoxious that I have failed to follow my own advice. Hope not to let that happen again, but its sooooo easy.

      Posted by stats on 2006 03 27 at 03:53 PM • permalink


    1. Steyn’s piece on “Shuffling into bondage” linked on his site to “The Western Standard” (free registration required) is pretty good too.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 03 27 at 04:16 PM • permalink


    1. #21, the idea that God must be protected by mere men has always been good for a laugh. As though He/She/It were so sensitive or morally corruptable as to need human shielding from the ugly, mean, cruel or humiliating acts of its own creation.

      That Abdul was turned in by his own parents is one of the worst details of all about this whole sorry story :

      “Welcome home, Abdul, how was Germany? Wait, what is THAT THING hanging around your neck?! Honey, call the police! Call the police!”

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 27 at 04:57 PM • permalink


    1. What a new multicultural Islamic Japanese society?

      Mosques next to the Shinto temples, and Japanese women covered in scarves while wearing black covered kiminos as the new national dress code for the structured society. Halal sushi rolls with kebab whales.

      Japan, it’ll be fun!

      Posted by 1.618 on 2006 03 27 at 05:27 PM • permalink


    1. Speaking of Imperialist here’s a good story. Not to mention Tim’s first a 9 news stories!!

      Want to woo the Saudis? Send in Fred and Gladys.,,2-2104997,00.html

      I like this little bit of cultural knowledge “in a country where women still have to buy their underwear and receive advice on make-up from male shop assistants and where religious police patrol malls to ensure no improper contact between single men and women.”

      Posted by 1.618 on 2006 03 27 at 05:44 PM • permalink


    1. #24 Sort of like a reversal of Pavlik Morozov.

      I guess Rahman can say, with Nanki-poo “My father [is] the Lucius Junius Brutus of his race…”

      Posted by Michael Lonie on 2006 03 27 at 11:52 PM • permalink


    1. If the Sharia lovers get their way and Sharia +Tariq become part of our laws, the Aussie lawyers will go broke.
      I wouldn’t like to see that.

      Posted by waussie on 2006 03 28 at 12:59 AM • permalink


    1. LLL

      I dont know about Tim but I love Mark Steyn (introduced via this blog).

      I now have all of his books and use his arguements to slaughter hapless lefties with swashbuckling regularity.

      Posted by knuckleheadwatch on 2006 03 28 at 01:20 AM • permalink


    1. #29, I discovered Steyn through this blog as well and will always appreciate Timbo for enlightening me this way. Gone back through his archives and read lots of his excellent columns, haven’t checked out his books yet, might have to now though.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 28 at 05:45 AM • permalink


    1. LLL you simply stink, and this blog is being fouled by your presence.

      Posted by blogstrop on 2006 03 28 at 06:23 AM • permalink


    1. Trust Blogstrop to always go off topic with his vile-bile trash insults.

      If you’re interested, there’s an excellent Mark Steyn interview transcript here :

      on journalists and the truth on the ground in Iraq. There’s also an MP3 there of Steyn being interviewed, well worth listening to.

      Was actually referring to my own reaction to more Steyn on #6, obviously haven’t got the ironic comment sorted out well enough yet.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 28 at 08:53 AM • permalink


    1. 3

      After burning the widows, I wonder what they did with the kids?

      What, for that matter, did the kids do about this?  Generation after generation, they just let this happen?  Maybe General Sir Charles was a good bit too liberal in his dealings with these lovely people.

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 03 28 at 03:40 PM • permalink


    1. LLL 8

      So Sharia Law is The Law in Afghanistan right now? How’s that sit with all the freedom and democracy?

      Where’s the contradiction?  Is there some principle that makes it impossible for free democracies to enact fucked-up laws?

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 03 28 at 03:43 PM • permalink


    1. Muslihoon 19

      If a man is acting with his wife and while acting, following the script, pronounces “talaaq,” does he become divorced from his wife in actuality?

      Only if either of them is actually stupid enough to TELL on themselves.  I bet.

      Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 03 28 at 03:46 PM • permalink


    1. #34, it’s not exactly the nice, neat package of freedom of democracy being sold back in the West, is it? Most people would regard the US/Aust/UK winning in Afghanistan, but would have been completely in the dark that Sharia Law was being enforced in this recently ‘freed’ country. It’s all a matter of interpretation, I suppose, and the way victories are being sold to the masses.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 29 at 07:54 AM • permalink


    1. Sorry, that should have read “…neat package of freedom and democracy…” then again, maybe the first version is closer to the truth on the ground.

      Posted by LeftieLatteLover on 2006 03 29 at 07:55 AM • permalink


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