The Sun Has Set Over the British Empire - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Sun Has Set Over the British Empire

All my life, I’ve been an ardent Anglophile. I grew up consuming British literature, first, kid stuff like King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Treasure Island, later more adult but no less marvelous fare — Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming — then material for an English Lit major: Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Hardy, Conrad, Wilde, Shaw, and the Romantics. These in turn led me to appreciate Britain’s glorious history. How a cold, grey, windswept island went from fending off interminable invasions to remaking the farthest reaches of the globe, including our great country, within a mostly benevolent empire. How its concept of individual freedom and justice improved the world, surviving two modern wars and one cold one. Consequently, it pains me to see the United Kingdom going full Orwell. Never go full Orwell, the great writer himself practically screams in every page of 1984. Yet today, his novel seems more a British Government manual than a cautionary tale.

Last week, two insidious mandates appeared to come straight out of Oceania – only in Britannia. The Committees of Advertising Practices (CAP) banned — repeat, banned – all ads that reinforce gender stereotypes, in other words, no more “Mr. Mom” commercials or happy housewives celebrating a cleaning product. And the National Health Service ordered — repeat, ordered — the abortion of a mentally disabled woman’s unborn baby, despite her mentally fit mother’s willingness to help care for it. George Orwell is not the only British visionary turning over in his grave today. His fellow nation-boosting author, Rudyard Kipling, must be doing likewise.

One of my first movie memories was Gunga Din, the classic action epic inspired by Kipling’s wonderful poem, made in the immortal film year, 1939. Politically incorrect by every modern standard — “racist, sexist, imperialist” — it remains a rousing manly adventure about three rambunctious British Army sergeants pitted against an entire Indian Thuggee rebellion, while two of them try to stop the third from getting married and going sissy in the tea business. Yet not only is the native title character (touchingly portrayed by, yes, white Jewish actor Sam Jaffe) the heart of the story, its villain, the Guru, is one of the most terrifying in all cinema – a brilliant Indian patriot (astutely played by, yes, white Italian actor Edward Cianelli). In his pivotal scene, the Guru puts British arrogance to shame, effectively chilling the three trapped heroes.

“You seem to think warfare a British invention. Have you never heard of Chandragupta Maurya?… He slaughtered all the armies left in India by Alexander the Great. India was a mighty nation then, while Englishmen still lived in caves and painted themselves blue.… I see it in your faces. Who is this ugly little savage — to snarl so boldly at the British lion? Prime generals, friends, are not made of jeweled swords and mustache wax. They’re made of what is there (points to brain) and what is here (points to heart).”

Although in any contemporary Hollywood movie, the Guru would be the hero, and the sergeants three abusive louts, I still cheer when Gunga Din blows the bugle that alerts the Redcoats to rally, and choke up as the English Colonel reads the end of Kipling’s poem over Din’s dead body: “Though I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,/By the living God that made you,/You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

The latter scene displayed British military tradition at its best. We saw a brief, uplifting reminder of it in early June, during President Trump’s visit to England for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day — our combined nations’ finest hour. The incomparable pomp and circumstance of the Royal Guards was balanced by the few, the happy few, and frail survivors of the incredible Normandy Invasion. However, not long afterward the sun sank over the British Empire, to expose the progressive rot in the mother government. It’s bad enough that the UK can’t even leave the European Union three years after the people voted for Brexit, the latest mandates exemplify the total erasure of free will.

America today is beset by leftist pressures similar to Britain’s. The difference is we slap them back, even though they keep coming. Listen to every Democratic candidate currently vying for the White House promise to defy the Second Amendment, abolish the Electoral College, pack the Supreme Court, and force pro-lifers to fund abortionists. But unlike the UK, it is still unthinkable for a government official here to tell advertisers how they can and cannot sell a product, or order a mother to murder her child. The Constitution is much fresher and stronger than the Magna Carta.

The shadow of the British Empire reappeared this month on the far side of the world. Britain helped to build its colony of Hong Kong, despite being in mainland China, into an international financial power. In 1997, London handed Hong Kong to China, given certain guarantees of its autonomy. These guarantees have been progressively quashed by Beijing over the past two decades. And yet, more than two million Hongkongers risked brutal Chicom retaliation by protesting changes that would ease extradition to China, a legal black hole from which few victims ever reemerge. They demonstrated incredible courage. Pity the British people aren’t doing the same so far down the road to their Orwellian future.

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