Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Ancient Feud


John Derbyshire lays down his semen-spattered anthology of Kipling poems long enough to turn a gimlet eye on Mark Steyn's new book, and proclaim himself displeased.

The bone of contention seems to be that while Steyn loves the British Empire as passionately as any Serious Man must, he doesn’t understand that its like will not be here again:

Like many another, Mark is dazzled to blindness by the example of the British Empire. Note to Mark: It was a one-off.
That said, Derbyshire is quick to point out that Steyn's grasp of geopolitics is, in some respects, nearly the equal of his own:
At the end of the book Mark says we have three options: submission to Islam, the destruction of Islam, or the reform of Islam. Just so, just so.
I'm annoyed that Derb has given away the book's ending, but I'm happy to learn that he and Steyn - the Clausewitz and Rommel of their day - have managed, against all odds, to find common ground on the question of the Raghead Menace.

The first of these options can be ruled out right away: We can't submit to those confounded Muslim chappies. For one thing, there'd be no more ogling underdressed fifteen-year-old girls for Derbyshire. It's a safe bet that the Islamomaniacs don't like show tunes, either, which puts them at loggerheads with Steyn. Submitting to Islam is simply a nonstarter, no matter how much the jihadists share our hatred of fags, uppity women, frivolous lawsuits, and poststructuralist theory.

On the other hand - and this is where our bright boys give Sun Tzu a run for his money - we can exterminate the brutes. The complete "destruction of Islam" may be impossible, but what kind of defeatist would refuse to give it a whirl?

When Steyn claims that we can "reform Islam," I assume that this means nuking Mecca, at the very least. In the first place, "reform" usually means "destroy now and forever" in wingnut-speak. And Steyn and Derbyshire have insisted elsewhere on the perfect, implacable enmity of Der Ewige Muselmann.

Speaking of implacable enmity, Thomas Gallagher's book Paddy’s Lament quotes 19th-century British political economists to the effect that the mass migration of the Irish only seemed to reduce the threat posed to England by Celtic subnormality; the danger remained that these sickly Irish weeds would thrive and bloom unnaturally when transplanted to American soil. The London Times understood precisely what this would mean for Civilization:
We shall only have pushed the Celt westwards. Then, no longer cooped up between the Liffey and the Shannon, he will spread from New York to San Francisco, and keep up the ancient feud at an unforeseen advantage…To the end of time a hundred million spread over the largest habitable area in the world, and, confronting us everywhere by sea and land, will remember that their forefathers paid tithes to the Protestant clergy, rent to absentee landlords, and a forced obedience to the laws which these had made.
What makes the Irish so frightening, you'll note, is the notion that they might be holding a grudge. Their mistreatment in the past actually mandates their mistreatment in the present.

It's all fairly silly, like reading Victorian warnings against self-pollution. But it was serious and sober enough at the time, and the science of comparative physiognomy could confirm Irish viciousness in the rare cases when anecdotal evidence didn't.

I assume that Derbyshire and Steyn are wistful about the British Empire because they're both given to laborious affectation; yammering about the glory of the Raj and the ingratitude of the wogs is cheaper, easier to master, and manlier than wearing a monocle. But I suspect they also like it because it was an era in which the White Race was as ideal and effortless a subject for the sentimental palette as Children Found Dead in the Snow. Given how much of their political program comes from this sort of childish, crackpot aestheticism, it's no wonder that, as Thers says, it's "unachievable in any real universe."

(Illustration from Comparative Physiognomy by James W. Redfield, 1852.)

9 comments:

roger said...

what a wonderful piece from the london times. not even a hint of embarrassment at listing the mistreatment of the irish, as if they obviously deserved it.

Phila said...

what a wonderful piece from the london times. not even a hint of embarrassment at listing the mistreatment of the irish, as if they obviously deserved it.

It's really a perfect example of serious, civilized thinking, which is why I felt like I had to squeeze it in at all costs.

I think a lot of current political commentary will read the same way before very long.

Nanette said...

That little snippet from wherever it was (at the top, Irish and doggy eloquence) is just... ack. And the Times piece, too.

I knew when the Irish came to the US they were thought very much "less than", but for some reason I didn't realize how much of that was apparently carried over from the feeling of the British towards them. Or, towards toawrds the Celts specifically, I guess - which not all Irish are (or were), and some English are? At least, for some reason, I've thought that was the case.

Anyway, very interesting to see how blatant was the denigration. And how stark the fear and dread of them ever coming to a place of power outside the influence of the English.

The more things change...

On the other hand - and this is where our bright boys give Sun Tzu a run for his money - we can exterminate the brutes.

It's really amazing to me that so many public people can call for outright genocide against Muslims (and they have) and suffer no consequences at all. Not even in the court of public opinion. Fear, hatred and anticipation of people "holding a grudge" might allow this sort of thing to just sort of slip under the radar, I suppose.

Also, though... each new "enemy" is THE one most terrible one, so terrible that no matter what injustices were visited upon a population before, and no matter how many apologies extended or court cases decided, all one has to do is change the names of the targets and it's all new again.

Thus, some of the exact same arguments used to oppose inter-racial marriage decades ago are being used now to oppose equal marriage rights for gays. Same wording, even. And while the case is still being made for rounding up and interning Muslims - using some slightly different arguments than with the Japanese Americans, but with the same fear and xenophobia - Haliburton (or subsidy) has gotten a govt contract to build detention centers ... for "illegal aliens".

While all the rhetoric has to do with Latin@s, the story I read a few months ago (which I can't find at the moment) said that they would first be concentrating on the Chinese immigrants. If this is so, my thought was that if Americans will sit by and watch groups of Asians once again being rounded up and sent off to camps (especially considering that the average non Asian cannot tell the different between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc), and say little or nothing, then everything (or most anyone) else will be smooth sailing.

Steyn and Derb are fools, of course. I'm fairly sure both are aware that empire/imperialism never actually ended, it just morphed; at the same time the Brits (and French, Dutch and others) are busily trying to come to terms with - mitigate, apologize for or completely erase - many of the actions taken in the service of empire... but this is indeed what they are looking for:

But I suspect they also like it because it was an era in which the White Race was as ideal and effortless a subject for the sentimental palette as Children Found Dead in the Snow.

They dont want to just have the economic and resource benefits of imperialism... that's too stealth, no one recogizes their superiority that way. No, they want to be Masters of all they survey, have people scurry off the sidewalks when they approach, not have a care for pesky "civilians" when doing fun things like bombing countries in order to retrieve "our" oil, and so on. Freaks.

I think a lot of current political commentary will read the same way before very long.

In many cases, I would say it does already.

Nanette said...

Also, did you see this story?

The um... differentness (is that a word?) combined with the ingenuity and the human rights/ civil liberties aspects just reminded me of something I would read here.

charley said...

i'm damn sure holding a grudge.

moi said...

yeah charley me too. feckin brits.

Phila said...

The um... differentness (is that a word?) combined with the ingenuity and the human rights/ civil liberties aspects just reminded me of something I would read here.

I did read it...interesting stuff, though pretty sad, too.

Nanette said...

Man, what a lot of typos I had.

...interesting stuff, though pretty sad, too.

Oh, definitely sad. And scary. It's interesting that he choose to handle it in a sort of "another word for freedom" fashion but, of course, he does still have a few things left to lose and his US citizenship is no real protection against that.

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