As Anthony Pagden describes it in the book "Peoples and Empires": "The British ransacked Sanskrit texts and questioned local religious leaders in an effort to discover a 'purer' form of Hinduism" that would match – as Pagden puts it – "their own notions of 'morality.'" (Pagden, who has taught at Harvard and has written for the New York Times, would be finished as a respected academic if he ever expressed a personal view as to the morality of burning women alive.)
As luck would have it, the governor general of India, Lord Bentinck, made the exciting discovery that suttee was just such a distortion of the original Sanskrit! He outlawed it in 1829, proclaiming that he had restored the Indians to "true Hinduism."
Similarly, when Napoleon occupied Egypt at the end of the 18th century, he imposed a predominantly French culture, claiming he was merely restoring the Egyptians' true culture. (The only French custom that still survives is the aversion to bathing.) Indeed, Napoleon even declared that the French, not the Muslim warriors he had overthrown, were the "true Muslims."
Liberals don't mind pompously asserting that the terrorists are not practicing "true Islam" and demanding conversion to a form of Islam closer to their own "morality" (as per Pagden). Like the prim Lady-Do-Rightlys of Britain, they insist they are not destroying a religion, but rather restoring it to its proper understanding.
Inarguably, anyone who views flying planes into the World Trade Center as a matter of religious devotion is going to have to get a new religion. Could we at least stop pretending that the British colonial office approach of pandering "true Islam" is any less "imperialistic" than Franklin Graham's missionaries showing videos on the life of Christ?
Throughout the history of empire-building, Christians were a constant thorn in the side of the conquerors and slave-traders. They quaintly insisted that, as Pagden puts it, the biblical command "'Love thy neighbor as thyself' should be a real deterrent against pillage and the unwarranted expropriation of the goods of others, even when, as was generally the case, those others were not Christians."
Though some colonialists used Christianity as a fig leaf for pillage, they were precisely as Christian as Cuba, China and North Korea are "democratic" today. Someday, liberals will denounce democracy, citing the atrocities of Red China as proof of what such a monstrous system of government can do.
Christians who are willing to leave the safety and comfort of America to go to barbarous lands, risking disease, pestilence and murder, simply because they so love their fellow man – these are the miscreants who inflame and enrage liberals more than Saddam Hussein and his rape rooms ever did.
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