Judge not these intellectual and moral minors

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 23.46.24Dalrymple asks (of certain people of the Levant and Mesopotamia):

  • Are they full members of the human race?
  • Do they reflect on their circumstances and act on their reflections in the way that fully responsible and potentially culpable people do?
  • Do they have the capacity for independent action?
  • Should we exculpate them?
  • Should we forgive them?
  • Do they have a fully developed moral sense?
  • Should we regard their misdemeanors with a degree of indulgence?
  • Do people who explode bombs, resulting in scores of deaths of people chosen merely because they are (most of them) of a different religious confession, appreciate what they are doing, any more than a dog appreciates what it does when it knocks over a porcelain vase?
  • Are bombings in the Levant and Mesopotamia as inescapable as the weather?
  • Are those who carry out the bombings blameless?
  • Do those who carry out the bombings consciously decide to do so?

There is, writes Dalrymple, an

inability to take seriously the culpability of men and women who, as a matter of policy or tactics, kill large numbers of passers-by and bystanders.

This inability, he points out,

is a hangover of the late-Victorian imperial sensibility, which viewed much of the world’s population as intellectual and moral minors.

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