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Five Points on De Gaulle and Powell

Reader comment on item: Why Was Enoch Powell Condemned as a Racist and Not Charles de Gaulle?

Submitted by Ilsenstein (United States), Aug 19, 2013 at 20:43

First, family and hierarchy have as much to do with culture, lower case "c" , as do cuisine and literature. But cuisine and literature are only a part of something within culture, that could be called Culture with an upper case "C". In some sense the British Empire brought British culture to its colonial subjects just as a casual by product of administration, while as Mr. Pipes points out the French Empire more effectively and intentionally presented French culture as well as French Culture to its colonial subjects.

Second, racism in a technical sense has to do with the proposition that there exist higher and lower cultural abilities in perceived biological divisions of humankind. The proposition that there are higher and lower cultures, is itself not racism. One can easily get from one idea to the other but it is not logically necessary to do so. The texts of the De Gaulle and Powell speeches indicate that each statesman considered French or British culture respectively superior to that of the colonial subjects. That did not make them racists. The full texts of the addresses also make it clear that De Gaulle and Powell each believed that individual colonial subjects could successfully learn and attain to French or British culture (and Culture). So we see positively that neither De Gaulle nor Powell was a racist.

Third, the likely reason that the Powell speech was labelled racist is that it was delivered in the late 1960s, after the word racism came to be misunderstood, redefined and used as a pejorative label.

Fourth, it seems that the immigrants that De Gaulle and Powell knew were bringing Islam with them as a religion and way of life they wanted to keep, not necessarily as a conscious program for widening the rule of Allah.

Finally, can one imagine any present American politician even being understood and accepted by enough of our citizens if they spoke in the manner of these speeches and made allusions to the Classics? Which of our statesmen and stateswomen can even write like that by themselves? President Obama can, but he dumbs down most utterances. He departs from his perfect Standard American English pronunciation whenever the occasion demands. We Americans have arrived at this point by ourselves, without the assistance of our many new arrivals. Even if we were to bring our new people over to American culture, what will we giving them?

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