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The example of Napier

Posted by Richard on December 13, 2006

Larry Kudlow posted a great little item from "The Week" in the 12/18 edition of National Review (it’s available at National Review Online to subscribers only). It briefly summarized the story of Colorado’s Saudi slaveholder, mentioned the State Department’s pandering to the Saudis, and contrasted that with a wonderful story of how a proper British imperialist handled a stark cultural conflict (emphasis added):

A Saudi Couple living in Aurora, Colo., were convicted of enslaving their Indonesian nanny, taking her passport, forcing her to live in the basement, and paying her less than two dollars a day. The husband, Hamaidan al-Turki, also made her a sex slave, abusing and raping her. Hamaidan’s wife plea-bargained down to 60 days in jail and $90,000 in restitution, but Hamaidan got 28 years to life. “The state has criminalized these basic Muslim behaviors,” he told the judge. And rightly so. Justice wobbled at the end when, at the urging of the State Department, Colorado’s attorney general John Suthers flew to Riyadh to brief King Abdullah on the matter. Better to have followed the example of Sir Charles Napier, a British general in India, when local Hindus complained of a prohibition on suttee. “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Bravo, Sir Charles! To paraphrase Karl Hess (via Barry Goldwater), certitude in defense of liberty, justice, and civilized customs is no vice, and tolerance of barbarism is no virtue.
 

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