Category Archives: Christians

Canting humbugs in their hundreds of thousands

Hard feelings in the East Indies

The sentencing of the Christian governor of Jakarta to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy might, writes Dalrymple,

seem like a throwback to medieval intolerance,

but, he says,

it is more than that. It is a reminder that the suppression of the freedom of others is more fun than the exercise of freedom.

The Muslim masses who demanded the prosecution of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama

enjoyed their virtuous anger,

which is

among the pleasures that their religion does not deny them.

Islamic humbug

Dalrymple notes that although intellectually primitive, the condemnation and sentencing of Ahok, as he is known,

was in one respect modern. One of the judges said that punishment was justified because the governor had hurt the feelings of Muslims—which must have been as delicate as those of Western students who need safe spaces and teddy-bears to hug if they hear something that contradicts their preconceptions.

The desire not to have one’s feelings hurt

has been erected into a right increasingly enforceable at law. Not everyone’s feelings are treated with the solicitude that we show a nice fluffy colourful species of animal that is on the verge of extinction. But treating people’s feelings with this solicitude tends not only to preserve them but to cause them to flourish.

Dalrymple avers that

we have a duty to control our indignation, for most of the time it will be liberally admixed with humbug.

He does not expect his message to be heard in Jakarta,

to judge from the pictures of those hundreds of thousands of canting humbugs in the city’s streets.


Muggeridge was right — about Russia and about TV

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 08.49.24Malcolm Muggeridge, Dalrymple explains, was a correspondent for the (then-Manchester) Guardian in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, but

far from finding the paradise he had expected, he found a kind of hell. During the Ukrainian famine he sent back truthful reports to the Guardian, which published only some of them. He was outraged by the Western intellectuals who took starvation for plenty and tyranny for freedom, and satirised them mercilessly in his book Winter in Moscow.

For Muggeridge,

the most encouraging thing about the Soviet régime was its failure. If it had succeeded…I would have known that there were no limits to the extent to which human beings could be terrorised and enslaved.

Later in life, Dalrymple notes,

Muggeridge became a fervent and somewhat unctuous Christian, by no means a popular thing to do in the 1960s. Perhaps he did so because it was his temperament to swim against the tide. He denounced television from his pulpit—which was, of course, television. He denounced it with all the fervour of a temperance preacher denouncing gin or of a modern public health official denouncing tobacco. At first I laughed at him, but then I saw that he was quite right. Television is an evil.