You Can Lead A Columnist To Water…

Sylvester Brown, a columnist in St. Louis, offers up this trite eye-roller to the Blogfaddah, in response to a Reynolds post on US efforts to oust dictatorships in favor of democracies, by force when necessary:

Sorry, bloggers. When it comes to regime change and nation-building, I can’t follow the wisdom of Bush and his crew. I lean more toward the words of a real straight shooter, Mohandas Gandhi:

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

Gandhi, of course, is the patron saint of pacifism for the Western Left. What they tend to leave out in quoting the above and other pacifistic platitudes is Gandhi’s extremism, if his philosophies were carried out to their logical conclusions. Concerning the threat of Hitler’s Germany, Gandhi counseled Winston Churchill to surrender peacably, and then pursue a strategy of non-violent resistance.

Now, you do know what happened to everybody who pursued non-violent resistance against the Nazis, don’t you? What do you think the world would look like today, had Churchill and Roosevelt taken that advice?

Gandhi, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Martin Luther King, Jr. in this country, had one tremendous advantage in their own quite remarkable efforts–they were opposing governments and/or structures that were, in the end, ameniable to moral persuasion. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam–these were not reasonable men who could be shamed or convinced into stepping down quietly and calling elections. These were barbaric monsters who recognized no higher morality than their own whims. Today’s closest parallel to Gandhi is the Dalai Lama, and all his own pacifism has won for his people in Tibet is fifty years of brutal Chi-Com occupation, with no end in sight.

Brown should know as much, and I suspect he probably does, but between the old leftie blame-America syndrome and simple Bush-hatred, he apparently can’t bring himself to admit the obvious. Rather sad, really.


19 Responses to “You Can Lead A Columnist To Water…”

  1. RobertJ Says:

    IIRC, Ghandi also said he could only do what he did because it was the British he was going up against. If it were the Nazis occupying India, Ghandi would’ve been shot.

  2. utron Says:

    I remember reading that there was a conference of anti-colonialist types back in the late 1920s or early’30s; two of the participants were Gandhi and Ho Chi Minh. When a reporter asked Ho why he didn’t adopt Gandhi’s non-violent tactics, Ho pointed out that the French had executed more than 700 people for anti-government activities in the past year and said, “If Mr. Gandhi were to try his approach in Indochina, he would long since have joined his ancestors.”

    No one can fault Gandhi’s courage, but the man was also extraordinarily self-involved and gave far too little credit to the British for the restraint they showed in dealing with him. A straight shooter he wasn’t.

  3. richard mcenroe Says:

    A self-involved moral leader? Hard to imagine.

  4. Randall Says:

    Interesting to watch the official position move from, “Bush is an idiot if he thinks the Middle East needs or even wants democracy” to “Bush has no right taking credit for the enthusiasm for democracy so many people in the Middle East are suddenly demonstrating.”

    Whatever. If the Middle East manages to make the transition to democracy, it doesn’t matter a hill of beans who conspicuously does not get credit for it.

    And, to his credit, I don’t think the guy who conspicuously is not being given credit for it really cares.

  5. Randall Says:

    OK, one more. Dinesh D’souza, an American citizan born in India related in a book (forgot which) that one of his teachers in India told the class, “If India had been ruled by the Nazis, Ghandi would have been a lamp shade.”

    After all was said and done, the Britished were shamed out of India. Try that with fascists/theocrats/Ba’athists,communitsts.

    Just doesn’t work. Also, the very democracy that made the British (relatively, grudgingly, after playing world conquerer for about a hundred years) amenable to moral suasion was won at the price of boatloads of blood, iron, and gunpowder.

  6. PacRim Jim Says:

    The British were the first to abjure slavery, so it’s no wonder that Gandhi could demonstrate such lese majesty.

  7. richard mcenroe Says:


  8. marc Says:

    It’s really not worth spending too much time with Brown. I live in St. Louis. He’s just a columnist for one of the worst papers I’ve ever seen. Not “worst” in a bias way, but in a sloppiness “we don’t care about our product way”. It’s rife with spelling errors. Just a few weeks ago a man was referred to as being his own sister.

    As for Brown, you know what his column is before he writes it. Just take the latest lefty conspiracy, and you already know his column (well, sometimes he’s late to the party). Recently he wrote a column — after viewing “Bush’s Brain” — in which he supported (though attempting cleverness by saying it was just maybe sorta plausable wink-wink) the idea that it was Rove who planted the Rather memos.

    Just watch. Soon there will be columns about the vast, heavily financed and controlled right-wing blog conspiracy.

  9. Chuck Pelto Says:

    TO: Will Collier
    RE: Hmmmm….

    ….”Columnist to water”?

    Are we doing a take-off on the proverbial…

    …”Whore to culture”?



  10. Ed Driscoll Says:

    Invoking Gandhi’s name to buttress your argument has to be some sort of variation on Godwin’s Law–either name causes your intellectual stock to momentarily take a precipitous plunge. Too bad that doesn’t seem to put a stop to their all-too-frequent use.

  11. byrd Says:

    I have to put in a good word for the Dalai Lama.

    He did field an army against the Chinese at the start of the invasion. They were completely over-matched and quickly wiped out. Nevertheless, he used what guns he had.

    Next, he hoped the U.S. Army would come to Tibet’s rescue. It was only when it became clear that the Tibetans were on their own and that they couldn’t face China on the battlefield that he renouced violence as a resistance tactic.

  12. Will Collier Says:

    I didn’t know any of that, byrd. Now I’m going to have to go look it up. Thanks for the post.

  13. sue Says:

    for being a man of peace, he was cruel and belligerent towards his own family.

  14. doug quarnstrom Says:

    All this talk about Ghandi reminds me of that old quote, “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.” People always leave out the fisrt part which turns a comment that is at least marginally true into one that is laughably stupid.


  15. Dave Says:

    Link via Instapundit . . .

    Martin Luther King Jr. once said of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred World War II pastor,

  16. Neo Says:

    The pacifism of Mohandas Gandhi only works when your opponent can be made to submit to shame.

    British YES
    Hilter NO
    South Africans YES
    Sadaam NO
    Chinese perhaps in the future
    NK NO

    Since this requires the opponent have a conscience, I have always wondered just how Martin Luther King Jr would have fared up against Bill Clinton.

  17. Leoniceno Says:

    As I understand it, part of Gandhi’s reason for non-violence was that it was the only effective course for the situation. In other words, it was a practical (as well as religious) matter. I believe it was Rules for Radicals that said that, I could be wrong.

  18. Luke Says:

    Will Collier’s observations regarding Gandhi/Churchill/Hitler don’t negate the validity of the original statement, ie:

    “The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

    He obviously wanted to make a point about Gandhi but that quote still rings true for me.

  19. Knemon Says:

    “The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”


    You can’t impose it, but you can remove barriers to it.

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