Category Archives: indignation

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.


Postcards from Laos

Dalrymple wishes to be sent to Luang Prabang to write, under a palm tree, about Henry Vaughan, whose Silex Scintillans came out in 1650

Dalrymple wishes to be sent, in luxurious conditions, to Luang Prabang to write, possibly under a palm tree, about the Welsh poet Henry Vaughan, whose Silex Scintillans came out in 1650

The Dalrympian Shangri-La

In the 13th century, writes Dalrymple,

when the world climate was much warmer than it is now, there were vineyards in the far north of England, a precedent that must give some hope of gainful employment to the chronically unemployed there.

He points out that

working oneself up into a fury of indignation is one of the great consolations of human existence, which is otherwise apt to be so tedious and unsatisfactory.

Hence the appeal of rioting to European spoilt-brat radicals who love the planet and its biosphere. But Dalrymple cannot work himself up into a state of righteous indignation over wastage and extravagance

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 10.52.10because I have in my time done a fair bit of travelling at other people’s expense to no very obvious benefit to anyone except myself. These days I don’t go anywhere only because I’m not asked, or not often. If someone tomorrow were to offer me a free trip in luxurious conditions to Laos (a country I have long wanted to visit, my Shangri-La) to discuss, say, the works of Henry Vaughan, the 17th-century religious poet of mid-Wales, I should of course at once accept, even if by doing so I added my mite to the downfall of the planet and the destruction of the coral reefs in the Pacific.

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