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The more things change the more they remain the same
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, January 14, 2006

I ran across this during a meandering blog surf. It's a quote from an 1899 book by Winston Churchill, "The River War", in which he describes Muslims he apparently observed during Kitchner's campaign in the Sudan against the jihadists of that day (not to be confused with the same sort at work there today). It's a bit of history which seems as apropos today as it apparently was then:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
Fascinating. And in the 100 years since, not a thing has changed, has it?

(Thanks to Never Yet Melted)
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Previous Comments to this Post 

He did know how to turn a phrase, did Winston.
Given we know he had a tendency to edit and re-edit his words to get them just so, I’ve always had a thought about looking at what ended up in the trash. (Chuckle)
Written By: Bithead
Churchill was better with than I have been. Take note.
Written By: Newc
URL: http://
with what?
Written By: Bithead
"Given we know he had a tendency to edit and re-edit his words to get them just so, I’ve always had a thought about looking at what ended up in the trash."

Ironically, this is one such piece that ended up in the trash, Bithead. It’s usually misquoted, and Churchill himself edited out of his book The River War over 100 years ago.

For further details, read the following:
Written By: Chris Bell
While extremely interesting, Chris, note that I have no interest or desire in using the quote to somehow say Churchill would have been "sternly resolute". Instead the quote, which seems to be very genuine based on your two cites, gives us a look at something which we face today that hasn’t seemingly changed in the 100+ years since Churchill penned it ... namely the face of radical Islam.

That he chose to excise if from abridged copies is irrelevant to that point as well. But I would note that according to the second of your cites, this quote conforms with the quote Professor James W. Muller sent you.

None the less, the history you provided is fascinating.
Written By: McQ
Just so you know, McQ... the direction this seems to have gone, was decidedly NOT the intent of my comment. What I was leaning toward, rather, is that what Churchill tossed away, was likely of better quality than what most men would keep. More, what got to the trash would have shown us a bit more of the thought processes he used to create the final product, perhaps giving us added insights as we watched the progression to that final product.

That point... that quibble... aside, I’m always fascinated by writers of his type... He’d have taken to modern word processing like a cod to water, I think.... though this bloody voice-dictation thing would have driven him off the nearest cliff, I think.

Though I wonder sometimes, if such conveniences as word proc...(Word, WP, etc) would have negatively affected his work, in some way. How would his writing style (and for that matter, ending style) have meshed with today’s technology as opposed to that somewhat battered typewriter used to use? An idle bit of wondering, nothing more.

On a more serious note;
His comments that you’ve quoted, here, can be summed by the catch line I’ve used for years... "All cultures are not equal".

You see, I’m not sure how much of they list of problems he writes about, can properly be tagged on the religion per se’ as opposed to some other aspect of the culture. Certainly, I have argued repeatedly that religion is a foundational piece of any given culture, and Arabic ciulture is no exception. But it is only a piece. He may be going a bit wide of the mark here to lay these problems at the feet of religion as a whole, and in this case, Islam, partiuclarly. Perhaps he’s guilty of using Mohammedanism, and Arabic Culture, interchangeably, when one is merely a part of the other?
Written By: Bithead
McQ said: "Fascinating. And in the 100 years since, not a thing has changed, has it?, regarding Churchill’s statement:
"...and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."
I would suggest that many in this country are using certain elements of Christianity in an attempt to stifle it’s embrace of science and logic. Manipulation of the abortion debate and The Discovery Institute, (), come to mind without much prodding.

It is only through the thinking of people like Churchill that Western Civilization has survived in a principled way.
Unfortunately, we are currently under the leadership of a man with fatalistic views of life and civilization, not unlike those of Mohammedanism.
Written By: Fran
The marriage of Christianity and Science has been a bit rocky lately, but I believe it still exists and is a lot stronger than you might think. Send Christianity and Science to marriage counseling, but they’re not ready for the divorce lawyer just yet.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
Nor I, Hermit. I’ve said it before. As I read the Bible, I see no conflict between the two.

Yet, I wonder how Churchill would have reacted to Islam obtaining nuclear power. And, of course, the nuclear bomb. He makes a great implicit point of saying that Islam remains as it is because of its rejection of science. The usual perception of such people... at least those that live in the neck of the woods, has been of a kind of a militant Amish. (if you can get your arms around THAT idea...)

And yet, here we have the followers of Islam, using the power of science and embracing it in the form of a high tech weapon, even by our standards.

You see, that’s the one part about that quote that leaps out at me as incongruous with the current situation. It’s a mis-meshing that reinforces a thought I’ve had for some time... I wonder if there isn’t some degree of separation between the religion and the culture at work... (granted, a separation that Churchill, at least in this quote, doesn’t seem to recognize.)

A lot of people, from the president on down, have remarked using words to the effect that the radicals are taking positions in the name of Islam that is not true Islam. There’s been a lot of discussion on that point back and forth, and I am not convinced either way. But does this high tech departure mean that more than the religion is at work here?
Written By: Bithead
Many on this thread speak of Christianity in intellectual terms which is the signature of ignorance about spiritual matters. It is this type of intellectual pontification that has brought down many a civilization.

Don’t judge Christianity by the behavior of Christians but rather by the words and instructions in the Bible. Likewise don’t judge Islam by the behavior of millions of “peace loving Muslims” but by the words and instruction in the Koran.
Many of you speak of "Radical Islam" as some fringe sect outside the fold of mainstream Islam, well won’t you be in for a shock when you discover that Radical Islam is the true Islam and the so called mainstream Islam are really the superficial believers that are not fully faithful.

Before you respond to this comment (and embarrass yourself further with ignorance) I urge you to "READ" the Koran (i.e. don’t be an intellectual couch potato) don’t just take my word or that of anyone else for that matter.

So that you don’t start off on the wrong foot in your study let me suggest a couple rules of thumb that typically trip scholars up.

1.Take at face value what you are reading don’t fall victim to projecting your culture or values.
2.Don’t make the fatal error of stating that the Holy Bible and the Koran spew the same hatred. There is a big difference
a.Notice that when violence was committed(in the Holy Bible)it was not at the direction of Jesus Christ but recording fact
b. Notice too that in the Koran the violence is at the hands of Mohamed or at direction of Allah.

Don’t look to rationalize beyond this it is quite simple and straight forward.
Written By: Rick
URL: http://
Written By: Bíró Zoltán

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