Charles Dickens is a name many Hindus who have studied in English-medium schools or Christian convents are familiar with. Some of his novels like Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield were either part of English literature curriculum or staple diet for teenagers with a taste for reading, the entire reading horizon usually limited to English language literature for many such young minds.
While Dickens was undoubtedly a master of the English language and a gifted story-teller, what is unknown to most is that he was a genocidal racist, a Christian fundamentalist who hated Hindus and Bharat with a vengeance bordering on the insane – quite like another British hero Winston Churchill.
A twitter thread by Dr. Sai Priya (@priya_27_) lays bare the ugly reality behind the much lauded literary facade of this Englishman-
Charles Dickens. Who knew he was not just anti-Bharat, anti-Hindu and racist (which is common), but straight up wanted to exterminate the whole race as if we were cockroaches. Here are some memorable Dickens quotes I’ve gathered:
Dickens, in a letter to Emile de la Rue in 1857, about the Indian War of Independence of 1857:
“I wish I were Commander in Chief over there [India]! I would address that Oriental character which must be powerfully spoken to, in something like the following placard, which should be vigorously translated into all native dialects, I, The Inimitable, holding this office of mine, and firmly believing that I hold it by the permission of Heaven and not by the appointment of Satan, have the honor to inform you Hindoo gentry that it is my intention, with all possible avoidance of unnecessary cruelty and with all merciful swiftness of execution, to exterminate the Race from the face of the earth, which disfigured the earth with the late abominable atrocities.”
Dickens was a proponent of slavery and was also anti-Italian, anti-Irish, anti-Zulu, anti-Indian and anti-American Indian and anti-Semite. Source: Grace Moore (2004), Dickens and the Empire. Discourses of class, race, and colonialism in the works of Charles Dickens.
Yet, we Bharatiyas eulogize the man!
“You know faces, when they are not brown; you know common experiences when they are not under turbans; Look at the dogs – low, treacherous, merderous, tigerous villians.” – Dickens on Bharat, in a private letter to Emily de la Rue.
“I wish I were Commander in Chief of India. The first thing I would do to strike that Oriental race with amazement (not in the least regarding them as if they lived in the Strand, London, or at Camden Town), should be to proclaim to them in their language, that I considered my holding that appointment by the leave of God, to mean that I should do my utmost to exterminate the race upon whom the stain of the late cruelties rested; and that I begged them to do me the favor to observe that I was there for that purpose and no other, and was now proceeding, which all convenient dispatch and merciful swiftness of execution, to blot it out of mankind and raze it off the face of the earth.” – Charles Dickens, in a letter to Baronness Burdett-Coutts on 4 October 1857.
Dickens also called for the “extermination” of the Bharatiya race and applauded the “mutilation” of the wretched Hindoo who were punished by being “blown from…English guns[s]” From, ‘The Speeches of Charles Dickens’, K.J. Fielding, Ed., Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1960, p. 284
In 1868, in a letter alluding to the uneducated black population in US, Dickens railed against “the melancholy absurdity of giving these people votes”, which “at any rate at present, would glare out of every roll of their eyes, chuckle in their mouths, and bump in their heads.”
More quotes with citations are found at this link.
It is a sign of the debilitating colonial consciousness that afflicts so many of our elites and middle class, that we are either ignorant of such facts or couldn’t care less. Anglophile Indians will still try to convince you that British colonialism was ‘good’ for Bharat, never mind the over 50 million who died in man-made famines and the US $ 45 trillion looted thus killing millions more due to induced deprivation during British rule. Or the 100,000 Bharatiya soldiers who died in the two World Wars, thus saving Britain the blushes.
And if one thinks attitudes like Dickens’ magically disappeared after 1947, a glance at what British media like BBC and The Economist are churning out today will quickly disabuse you of that notion.
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