Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Sir Winston Churchill on Islam in 1901

Unlike David Cameron who thinks it borderline racist to suggest Arab countries are not ready for democracy  Sir Winston Churchill in The River War his book about the conquest of the Sudan was very blunt. 

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities — but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

His writing is clearly a pastiche of Macaulay and none the worse for that. How much more interesting informed and persuasive are the writings of Victorians on the subject of the psychology of nations than what is written now. Churchill in 1954 suggested Keep Britain White to his cabinet as a good election slogan. 

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