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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is a film critic for The New York Post and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    Gandhi Takedown

    By Kyle | March 31, 2011

    The great soul gets ripped apart in a bouncy bit of attack journalism from historian Andrew Roberts, who continues to grow more delightful. Roberts, in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, points out Gandhi had a gay lover (and also made his nubile teen great-niece sleep naked beside him).

    Gandhi was a racist and a fool (he advised the Jews to take a nonviolent stance toward Hitler, whom he addressed in a letter as “my friend”). That Gandhi set back India rather than advancing its interests by starting up half a century of autarky that ensured vast poverty is obvious; moreover, he opposed absolutely all birth control except abstinence. Before his switcheroo on the Untouchables, he treated members of the caste as subhuman and compared them to cows, even going so far as to stage a hunger strike (his first) to oppose Untouchables gaining seats in Parliament, justifying this on “religious, not political” grounds. He supported Muslim caliphate 2.0, though merely for cynical political reasons. He was also a religious freak who reasoned, not illogically, that if a blissful afterlife exists, people must be better off dead, so it was desirable that people be slaughtered in service of a greater cause. What a horrible man.

    Topics: Books, History, Politics | 13 Comments »

    13 Responses to “Gandhi Takedown”

    1. Obama bin Biden Says:
      March 31st, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Ghandi smelled bad too.

    2. kishke Says:
      March 31st, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Look, the man sat around wearing nothing but a diaper! What more do you need to know?

    3. K Says:
      March 31st, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Today’s special: sacred cow.

    4. Sherlock Says:
      March 31st, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      Robert Cecil, on the other hand, did advance India’s interests, and Andrew Roberts wrote a book on him, called Salisbury: Victorian Titan.

    5. Brandon Says:
      April 1st, 2011 at 9:10 am

      I’d once heard the bit about him making his niece sleep next to him in the nude. Furthermore I heard he had large groups of nude teenage girls sleep with him with his justification being that he put a rubber band around his penis so if he were to become aroused it would be immensely uncomfortable thus training him to resist temptation. Wonder if that defense would work for any ole’ run of the mill pervert?

    6. Murabma Says:
      April 3rd, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      Sounds like Gandhi and Mao, he of the “10,000 Chinese Virgins” harem, would have hit it off nicely if only history had given them the chance to get their acts together….

    7. CenturionTerminator Says:
      April 5th, 2011 at 5:57 am

      No great leader has ever been perfect.

      George Washington owned and exploited African-American slaves. FDR put thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans into prison camps.

      So what else is new?

    8. Brandon Says:
      April 5th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      CT,

      No one expects perfection from leaders but hypocrisy is especially aggravating. Had Washington claimed to be a liberator of slaves or FDR claimed to be a great beacon of rights for the Japanese than I believe that would seriously taint their image and position in history, but as it were they are famous for defeating the British and winning WW2 respectively. Gandhi is famous as a great religious figure and a certain amount of morality is part and parcel of their “greatness” therefore finding out he is simply a pervert no different than the priest who have been batting around choir boys naughty bits is a real black mark on his legacy. It’d be sort of like finding out Mother Teresa favored orgies.

      On the Gandhi front I’ve always been puzzled by people thinking he is great anyway. All he did was castrate a nation which has led to generations of violence between religions in India and Pakistan. He’s literally respected for inaction, thank god Churchill didn’t become famous for that otherwise we’d all be speaking German.

    9. CenturionTerminator Says:
      April 6th, 2011 at 8:09 am

      Brandon,

      There was hypocrisy in Washington and FDR.

      Washington became a symbol of liberty. Yet, he thrived on slavery. FDR became a symbol of social justice. Yet he committed a racial injustice. For Washington, liberty was for white men. For FDR, equality and social justice was meant for whites.

      Of course, both men are and were still great.

    10. wdcab Says:
      April 6th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Sorry. This is uncharitable to say the least and actually false on several points.

      His first hunger strike was in the early 1920s in favor of the mill workers of Ahmedabad in an attempt to shame the Jain mill owners to give them better working conditions and wages. Gandhi had already welcomed “untouchables” into his ashram as early as the mid-1920s, well before the out-of-context cow comment you quote as an example of his views on untouchability and his alleged “switcheroo.” And yes, he shared meals with them, even if he knew that requiring Brahmins to dine with Dalits in the 1930s was political suicide. Of course there’s no provision in the Voting Rights Act that racist white Southerners should be forced to hang out with blacks on the weekends or let them in their elite golf clubs.

      Further in welcoming the Dalits into his ashram in the 1920s, he alienated most of the Hindu donors supporting the ashram, but he refused to back down.

      The hunger strike over the constitution of 1933 had to do with whether a certain proportion of seats in parliament would be exclusively the domain of Dalits. If this makes Gandhi somehow pro-untouchability, then Roberts, by the same logic, is a racist, because I am sure he does not support the idea that 10% of seats in the House of Representatives should be reserved for African-American candidates.

      If we want to use an out of context quote to summarize Ambedkar’s views of Gandhi, it could just as easily be “you are of immense help to us.” That would be just as misleading, though. The fact is, the two had a fraught relationship. One should remember, though, that Gandhi had nothing to gain personally by ending untouchability, while Ambedkar had everything to gain. LBJ and MLK Jr. also had a fraught relationship too. Nevertheless, to dismiss LBJ’s contribution to civil rights would be naive, while to diminish their relationship as completely antagonistic would be a breach of the historical record.

      Roberts wants to have it both ways with Gandhi on the Muslim question, blaming him and him alone for the fracturing of the Indian polity into communal factions. Never mind that Gandhi had to serve as interlocutor between Jinnah and Nehru. Elsewhere, he blames Gandhi for being too conciliatory to Muslims.

      Sure, Gandhi was no saint. He was a mere mortal, and there are more flaws one could dig up. His refusal to allow his sons to have an English education was a particularly brutal sacrifice of his family’s personal well being for political principle. He thought a major earthquake was punishment for the sin of untouchability (much to Tagore’s chagrin.) And yes, he did have his perversions and his racist view of Africans, although let’s remember that a racist view of Africans was the default outlook of the average member of the British Empire c. 1900. None of Gandhi’s comments are anyhwere as close to as vile as some of the racist filth Churchill spewed.

      It’s pretty clear that Roberts isn’t very familiar with any Indian produced historiography of Gandhi in say the last 30 years, because the gloves have long ago come off there. In fact, this hatchet job is the kind of selective and nasty portrait of Gandhi one finds on slimy Sangh Parivar websites that seek to discredit him.

      On the other hand, your review of the original Arthur was quite lovely.

    11. Michael McCoy Says:
      April 9th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Well then, proves he was a Republican after all. Look. You are out to defile any semblance of goodness anywhere and where is that getting us? For sure no one is perfect. Not Reagan, not Gandhi and certainly not Kennedy. But maybe you should stop and think for one second about how destructive it is to our very culture to constantly promote unrestrained, hyperbolic ad hominem abusive rhetorical attacks on everyone you decide needs a reaming. Smug you may feel but is that feeling worth the damage you do to the very fabric of society. When we have anarchic chaos will you finally revel in your accomplishments?

    12. Kyle Says:
      April 10th, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Michael, step off the ledge and take a few deep breaths. You’ll be fine.

    13. kishke Says:
      April 10th, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      But maybe you should stop and think for one second about how destructive it is to our very culture to constantly promote unrestrained, hyperbolic ad hominem abusive rhetorical attacks on everyone you decide needs a reaming.

      You mean attacks like those made for years agaisnt the bushhitlerfascistchimp?

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