The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #160996   Message #3821876
Posted By: CupOfTea
21-Nov-16 - 11:10 AM
Thread Name: Gunga Din. Racist or just of its time?
Subject: RE: Gunga Din. Racist or just of it's time?
I remember being shocked when an educated young (30s) man's vehement reaction to my talking about my enjoyment of Kipling, particularly songs, was revulsion at my liking such a "fascist, imperialist, and racist" author. He would not debate this opinion nor answer what in particular of Kipling had offended him so.

I really wonder about what he was taught to make such a blanket dismissal, and it did have me looking closely at a bit of Kipling's writing with an eye for the unsavory "isms." The conclusion I came to was that he did not see Kipling in context- as you've suggested "of his times" - and ignoring that context eliminates comprehension of the author's intent and impact. I have been aware that some of what I sing requires some introduction to give it context, but singing history's songs is such a good way to give the flavor of the times. Steve and Will, above, make excellent points about this.

Not only is it unfair, but also ignorant, to critique the writings of previous eras as if they were written today. Living in a Trumped up time, "racist" as a blanket condemnation of someone's entire person implies a whole set of nasty and oppressive behaviors: active racism. In TODAY'S terms, racist means vicious threats, violent actions, intimidation, erecting barriers (in many senses) against other races. This is not at all what Kipling was about. In Kipling, I see it as a passive racism that he explored, and deplored, in some of his work. I argue that Kipling's was the racism of his times, but not of ours.

Joanne in Cleveland, aware of white privilege, and dealing with it.