Sunday, October 30, 2011
When did PC MC begin? More info on that question...
In 1909, J.M. Rodwell published his translation of the Koran into English. In the introduction to that translation (either in the first edition, or in some later edition, I am unsure), George Margoliouth wrote the following, in part alluding to a work by Thomas Carlyle in the previous century, published in 1849, titled On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, in which Carlyle praised Muhammad among other great figures of history:
The eulogy pronounced by Carlyle on Muhammed in Heroes and Hero Worship will probably be endorsed by not a few at the present day. The extreme contrary opinion, which in a fresh form has recently been revived by an able writer, is hardly likely to find much lasting support. The correct view very probably lies between the two extremes. The relative value of any given system of religious thought must depend on the amount of truth which it embodies as well as on the ethical standard which its adherents are bidden to follow.
By the "extreme contrary opinion", of course, Margoliouth refers to condemnation of Mohammed -- which, apparently, some writer in his day had published, though he doesn't name him. The footnote he provides only leads to a title -- Mahommed and the Rise of Islam, in "Heroes of Nations" series -- which I can't find by Googling; only finding, in the typical echo-chamber manner of the Internet on matters like this, endless repetitions of this one Margoliouth source.
Apparently, Margoliouth is under the impression that "not a few" in his time would agree with Carlyle's praise of Mohammed. By the phrase "not a few", we can reasonably assume a small minority, probably mostly of intellectuals and artists. And we can reasonably assume that Margoliouth is more or less correct about the relatively sparse prevalence of such proto-PC MC in his time.
The crucial point I wish to illuminate in my essay today is Margoliouth's assumption of a reasonable middle way:
The correct view very probably lies between the two extremes.
The two extremes being Carlyle's praise of Mohammed, on the one hand, and the unnamed more recent author's condemnation of Mohammed, on the other hand. On what basis does Margoliouth presume that his middle way is correct? Does he provide actual evidence to support that position? Does he provide counter-evidence to show how, and why, the condemnation of Mohammed is an "extreme" position that should not be held in polite company? No. He simply assumes this must be the case.
This, I believe, represents one powerful factor in the mindset of PC MC when it comes to defending Islam, and it transcends political Left and Right. It's simply part of the congenially open-minded Reason which over the centuries the West has cultivated. A major religion, and the founder of that major religion, cannot possibly be thoroughly pernicious, rightfully to be thoroughly condemned: it can't be that bad; there must be some good in it. The "correct" truth of the matter must lie somewhere between uncritical praise, and wholesale condemnation. It simply must be this way. All reasonable gentlemen would agree. Another brandy if you please, Jeeves.
While this factor is one important ingredient in PC MC, unfortunately it is not the only factor. All told, the conglomeration of factors that exert their influence on the hearts and minds of those in the West (the vast majority) beholden to PC MC distort and magnify the influence of the relatively simple principle articulated above, which Margoliouth exemplifies. What was, in Margoliouth, "very probably" the correct view, in his rather laid back consideration of what is reasonably plausible, has morphed in the decades since that time, as PC MC has acquired mainstream dominance in all spheres of life, into a fiercely defended proposition of propaganda presumed to be the normative Truth, with which one would dare to disagree to one's risk of being called a "bigot" or a "racist" (if not also simply strangely deluded), not to mention the probability of being ostracized in one way or another and even compromise or lose, one's career.
When Did Politically Correct Multiculturalism Begin?
When Did PC MC Begin? Second Case Study
When Did PC MC Begin? Third Case Study
When Did PC MC Begin? Fourth Case Study
Montaigne: Godfather of PC MC?