Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Johann Hari attacks Niall Ferguson
It appears Johann Hari (right) has decided to attack Niall Ferguson (below). With the usual emotive nonsense that is a constant theme in his inconsistent work he begins by saying Ferguson is a "court historian for the American hard right" (no he isn't, most of them hate him because he keeps telling them the US is an empire), and then proceeds to state that Ferguson is an "apologist for mass death".
The reason he say's this is because Ferguson - quite rightly - has taken the view that the default assumption that everything the British Empire ever did was bad might actually be invalid. He doesn't excuse morally wrong acts by the British, far from it. In fact, if you read Ferguson in his totality (which I doubt Hari has), you find that he's anything but scathing about when the British Empire clearly crossed unacceptable moral lines. An indication that Hari hasn't bothered reading Ferguson comes when talking about Rwanda. Hari says,
"It was not the people of Rwanda who officially divided their country into Hutus and Tutsis, and invented race myths asserting the inherent supremacy of the Tutsis – a process that placed a genocidal time-bomb under that society. No, it was the Belgian imperial masters who wanted to divide and rule."
Had Hari actually read Ferguson he would be aware that the Belgium Empire is very strongly attacked by Ferguson for it's actions in Central Africa. What Ferguson does then do is place it in context with the likes of Livingstone during the same period. The idea that Ferguson is an "apologist for mass death" is absurd if you actually take the time to read him (and more importantly, understand him).
Posted by dizzy at 6/14/2006 01:59:00 pm