Saturday, June 11, 2011

General Charles Napier—Feminist???

I relish the story of British general Charles Napier’s duty in India for both its irony and political incorrectness. The Hindu custom of Sati is a funeral practice once popular in India. It goes like this: when the husband dies, you take the widow and her burn her on the funeral pyre. Which makes me think: Girlfriend, if you’re going to marry a Hindu guy, marry one a lot younger than you.

In today’s politically correct environment, British imperialists are the most evil men in world history. Perhaps one might expect to see them cackling over the funeral pyres and twirling their proverbial mustaches. Thanks to General Charles Napier, overseer of India for the British army, this was not the case.

British reaction to the Sati practice was actually quite mixed. The Church of England was having a conniption fit, saying you can’t allow this to happen. The East India trading company was saying it’s not involved with business, leave them be. Napier took matters into his own hands. Napier says, “OK, you have your customs, we have ours. In my culture, when a man burns a woman, we HANG him. You can build your pyres, and next door we'll build our gallows. We'll respect your tradition as long as you can abide by ours.” Afterward, the practice of Sati saw a sharp decrease.

I wonder about two things: 1 did Charles Napier qualify as a feminist? And 2) if they made a movie, wouldn’t it be cool if the American actor Charles Napier played him?

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