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Did you think about it while you were watching Buster Scruggs?


The highest praise of Kipling I've heard is from Indians and Pakistanis. They recognise his racism but appreciate the love in his descriptions of the sights and sounds of the subcontinent

That's interesting, and good to hear. I certainly thought Rikki-tikki-tavi was a great story when I was 13 or so. His racism was not the really invidious kind, either--there's no hate in it, at least from what I know of his work.

I don't think so, Janet. I think it was one day last week. But I'm not sure.

"No doubt nowadays he's considered evil--imperialist and racist and so on, which he is"

I don't think any of this is true of Kipling!

You know I'm not one to throw those words around casually. But I think it's true in a fairly objective way. If I'm not mistaken, which I could be, he seems to have been a big supporter of the British Empire. And to have believed the European races were superior or at least more advanced than others. I don't think he was i/r in the sense of being fundamentally hostile to other nations and races.

For the most part I give people from previous centuries (prior to the 20th) a pass, unless they were just monsters. I have less patience with Charlottesville white supremacists and their Apologist in Chief.

Too many people nowadays have absolutely no interest in considering the past on its own terms. Anybody, living or dead, who doesn't see such matters as race exactly the way they do is a monster. They think "history" is completely on their side but alas won't live long enough to see history's judgment on them.

Kipling's "The White Man's Burden" poem, though, is pretty hard to take, even considering it was written during a different time. Especially his reference to those "new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child."

Yes, it's pretty horrible. Especially that line. But even there it's paternalistic and condescending (at best), not hateful and murderous.

Here's the poem, for those who don't know it:


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