Wednesday, April 19, 2017
When did PC MC begin? A dispiriting note.
Years ago on this blog, I embarked upon a series, When did PC MC begin? Readers who consult the Google page of search results will find several installments (or "case studies"), along with other essays that look at the phenomenon from different angles.
One theme of that series was my disheartening discovery that PC MC, historically, is not as recent as I thought (the usual starting point we surmise is those dastardly Sixties). One can even find vestiges, sometimes quite robust, as far back as the 19th or 18th centuries (and even back to the 16th century, with the French statesman and philosopher, Michel de Montaigne). As a consequence of this discovery, I tentatively concluded that the difference among eras & epochs is not the existence of PC MC at all, but rather their sociopolitical dominance or lack thereof.
Today I note only one example, pre-1960s: The historian J. Spencer Trimingham, whose area of expertise was the history of Islam in Africa. Born in 1904 and died in 1987, while his life overlaps the advent of the sociopolitical dominance of PC MC in the West, his generation's provenance, it is fair to say, predates that dominance (his seminal works, The History of Islam in Africa (1962) and The Influence of Islam upon Africa (1968) were published in the 60s, but evidently expressed the fruit of research in the 50s and before).
At any rate, here is a dispiriting (but utterly unsurprising) quote from Trimingham, from the latter mentioned book:
Islam in contact with the Africans is characterized by a series of gradations which act as insulators passing on Islamic radiation gradually to animist societies... Islam thus does no violent uprooting but offers immediate values without displacement of the old [pp. 41-42].
(quoted by the Jewish historian of Islam, Nehemiah Levtzion (1935-2003), himself apparently also PC MC in the self-hating Jew subcategory).