So Much For Liberal Icons....

John A. Quayle blueoval at SGI.NET
Thu May 15 04:52:59 MDT 2003


         One of the anachronisms of modern liberalism is that it elevates
scoundrels to be heroes, and denigrates heroes into scoundrels. And when it
cannot do that, liberalism simply lies.

         So it is the case with one of liberalism's icons, Mahatma Gandhi.
All over the world, the Indian leader Gandhi is held up as an icon of
peace, pacifism, tolerance and brotherly love.

         Statues are erected to him, his "example" is taught to Western
schoolchildren, and Hollywood has even made a film about him. In all of
these, Gandhi is portrayed as the ultimate peacemaker, the living example
of multi-culturalism.

         Sadly, liberalism and the truth have seldom met.

         For in reality, Gandhi was a first class Indian racist who not
only despised Blacks, but also lower caste Indians! Those who have been
subjected to some "conventional" Gandhi  propaganda will know that he was
born in India, studied to become an attorney in England, spent many years
"organizing passive resistance" in South Africa, and then returned to India
to lead the passive resistance movement against British rule in that
country. He was finally assassinated by one of his own kind.


         Lying in the publicly accessible archives of the South African
state records in Pretoria and in the Johannesburg public library are full
sets of the newspaper which Gandhi started in that country: the "Indian

         In addition, the Indian government has built an Internet site
dedicated to Gandhi, and much of his writing is now available online as
well. From these, and the official compilation of Gandhi's writings, the
"Collected Works", the true face of Gandhi emerges: an anti-Black Indian


         When Gandhi addressed a public meeting in Bombay on 26 September
1896, he had the following to say about the Indian struggle in South Africa:

         "Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be
inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of
the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to
collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his
life in indolence and nakedness."  (1)

         In 1904, opposing the then White British South African
government's plan to draw up a register of all non-Whites in the urban
areas, Gandhi wrote about  "natives" who do not work:

         "It is one thing to register natives who would not work, and whom
it is very difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is
another thing -and most insulting - to expect decent, hard-working, and
respectable Indians, whose only fault is that they work too much, to have
themselves registered and carry with them registration badges." (2)

         Commenting on a piece of legislation planned by the White Natal
Municipal authority, called the Natal Municipal Corporation Bill, Gandhi
wrote in his newspaper, the Indian Opinion on March 18 1905:

         "Clause 200 makes provision for registration of persons belonging
to uncivilized races, resident and employed within the Borough. One can
understand the necessity of registration of Kaffirs who will not work, but
why should registration be required for indentured Indians who have become
free, and for their descendants about whom the general complaint is that
they work too much?" (3)


         The Indian Opinion published an editorial on September 9 1905
under the heading, "The relative Value of the Natives and the Indians in
Natal". In it, Gandhi referred to a speech made by Rev. Dube, an early
African nationalist, who said that an African had the capacity for
improvement, if only the Whites would give them the opportunity.  In his
response, Gandhi suggested that:

         "A little judicious extra taxation would do no harm; in the
majority of cases it compels the native to work for at least a few days a
year." (4)

         Then he added:

         "Now let us turn our attention to another and entirely
unrepresented community - the Indian. He is in striking contrast with the
native. While the native has been of little benefit to the State, it owes
its prosperity largely to the Indians. While native loafers abound on every
side, that species of humanity is almost unknown among Indians here." (5)


         In a letter to the editor of the Times of London, published in 12
November 1906. Gandhi complained that under British rule, Kaffir police
"were hustling" Indians in South Africa. Gandhi wrote:

         "Poor people were, under the registration effected by Lord
Milner's advice, dragged at four o'clock on a cold winter's morning -from
their beds in Johannesburg, Heidelberg and Potchefstroom, and marched to
the police station, or Asiatic Offices, as the case might be. It is they
who under the Ordinance would be hustled by the Kaffir Police at every
turn, and not the better-class Indians.(6)

         Gandhi's opinion of a series of 1906 amendments to the Asiatic
Law, - No. 3 of 1885, which placed certain restrictions upon Indians in
British South Africa, are also insightful as to his true views on race.
Writing in his Indian Opinion newspaper on 8 June 1907, Gandhi remarked
that  the law  "does not apply to Kaffirs and Cape Boys" (7) and went on to
write that one of the main concerns he had with the act, which he called an
"obnoxious law", was that a  "Kaffir police constable" could detain an
Indian. He wrote:

         "At present, only the Permit Secretary is authorized to inspect a
permit. Under the new Act, every Kaffir police constable can do so. Under
the new Act, a Kaffir police constable can ask [an Asiatic] for particulars
of name and identity, and, if not satisfied, can take him to the police

         After dealing with a number of other grievances with the law,
Gandhi added:

         "Is there any Indian who is not roused to fury by such a law? We
should very much like to know the Indian whose blood does not boil. And it
is incredible to us that any Indian may want to submit to such legislation."(9)


         In 1906 a Zulu rebellion against British rule took place in the
colony of Natal. His alleged pacifist ideals notwithstanding, Gandhi joined
up with the British forces and became an ambulance stretcher bearer,
helping to suppress the Black rebellion, known as the Bambetta Uprising.

         In his memoirs of the campaign to help the British defeat the
Blacks, Gandhi wrote of how he saw a "Kaffir who did not wear the loyal
badge"  i.e. A Zulu who was not loyal to the British and who had taken part
in the uprising against the White British colonial rule.

         "As we were struggling along, we met a Kaffir who did not wear the
loyal badge. He was armed with an assegai and was hiding himself. However,
we safely rejoined the troops on the further hill, whilst they were
sweeping with their carbines the bushes below."(10)

         Gandhi also remarked on how unreliable these "loyal" Blacks were,
writing that:

         "The Natives in our hands proved to be most unreliable and
obstinate. Without constant attention, they would as soon have dropped the
wounded man as not, and they seemed to bestow no care on their suffering
countryman." (11)

         The most poignant line in Gandhi's Zulu war memoirs is however
this one, which exposes his alleged pacifism as a hoax:

         "However, at about 12 o'clock we finished the day's journey, with
no Kaffirs to fight." (12)

         Contrary to the liberal myth, Gandhi never once tried to help
anybody else but Indians, and even then, only upper casts Indians at that.
He consistently sought a special position for his people which would be
separated from and superior to that of the Blacks. (13)

         A good example came when the British colony of Natal took active
steps to ensure that the Indians in that colony were deprived of the vote.
"The Franchise Amendment Bill" introduced in 1896, prohibited Indians from
registering for the vote, while allowing those already on the rolls to remain.

         Within a few years, this eliminated the Indian as a voting factor
in Natal, and it was this law which caused the Indian merchants to ask
Gandhi to stay in South Africa, and around it was established the Natal
Indian Congress, the first Indian political organization in South Africa.

         One of the first achievements of the Natal Indian Congress - which
Gandhi established - was the creation of a third separate entrance to the
Durban Post Office. The first was for Whites, but previously Indians had to
share the second with the Blacks. The third entrance "for Indians alone "
satisfied Gandhi. (14)


         In their petitions against the Natal franchise bill, the Indians,
with Gandhi as their spokesman, complained that "the Bill would rank the
Indian lower than the rawest Native". In attempting to protect their own
position, they believed they had to separate themselves from the native
Blacks.  (15)

         In addition, other prominent Indians, all colleagues of Gandhi,
frequently complained of being mixed in with Natives in railway cars,
lavatories, pass laws, and in other regulations. (16)

         Recalling his time in a Transvaal prison in October 1908, Gandhi
said later that he spent the "first night in the company of some kaffir
criminals, wild-looking, murderous, vicious, lewd and uncouth." (17)


         Gandhi was, despite modern propaganda, acutely aware of the
differences between races, as this letter to W.T. Stead, an English friend
of his in London, written in 1906, clearly shows:

         "As you were good enough to show very great sympathy with the
cause of British Indians in the Transvaal, may I suggest your using your
influence with the Boer leaders in the Transvaal? I feel certain that they
did not share the same prejudice against British Indians as against the
Kaffir races but as the prejudice against Kaffir races in a strong form was
in existence in the Transvaal at the time when the British Indians
immigrated there, the latter were immediately lumped together with the
Kaffir races and described under the generic term 'Coloured people'.
Gradually the Boer mind was habituated to this qualification and it refused
to recognize the evident and sharp distinctions that undoubtedly exist
between British Indians and the Kaffir races in South Africa." (18)

         Indeed, Gandhi remarked about the issue of taxation of Indians in
South Africa that "A Kaffir is to be taxed because he does not work enough:
an Indian is to be taxed because he works too much." (19)

         Writing about a law which was designed to restrict Indian movement
in the British Cape Colony, Gandhi objected on the basis that it dragged
Indians "down with the Kaffir(s)." He wrote:

         "The bye-law has its origin in the alleged or real, impudent and,
in some cases, indecent behaviour of the Kaffirs. But, whatever the charges
are against the British Indians, no one has ever whispered that the Indians
behave otherwise than as decent men. But, as it is the wont in this part of
the world, they have been dragged down with the Kaffir without the
slightest justification." (20)


         In what context did Gandhi use this word "kaffir" which is most
certainly a term of abuse? Gandhi himself understood full well the word's
meaning, as he himself commented in later life the following when
commenting upon another person's use of the word to describe a Christian:

         "And finally, about Mr. Douglas who, as I have stated above, has
tendered his resignation. The gentleman has been simply overhasty. He took
offence at the Maulana Saheb's use of the word kaffir for a Christian. I
can understand his resentment. It would have been better if the word kaffir
were not used." (21)

  In addition, Gandhi remarked  "If Kaffir is a term of opprobrium, how
much more so is Chandal?" referring to Hindu and Muslim slang words for
each other.  (22)

         Therefore there can be little doubt as to Gandhi's racist
intention when he referred to "kaffirs" in South Africa, and only a deluded
liberal would suggest otherwise.


         In the Government Gazette of Natal for Feb. 28 1905, a Bill was
published regulating the use of fire-arms by Blacks and Indians. Commenting
on the Bill, Gandhi wrote in his newspaper, the Indian Opinion on March 25

         "In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most
improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any
such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the
carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the
native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification
for so preventing the British Indian?" (23)

         Gandhi, like many caste conscious Indians (he was born to a fairly
high shop owner caste) was all in favor of segregation from the
Blacks.  His reaction to a 1906 petition launched by non-Whites in South
Africa to the British King, demanding voting rights, reveals this attitude

         "It seems that the petition is being widely circulated, and
signatures are being taken of all colored people in the three colonies
named. The petition is non-Indian in character, although British Indians,
being colored people, are very largely affected by it. We consider that it
was a wise policy on the part of the British Indians throughout South
Africa, to have kept themselves apart and distinct from the other colored
communities in this country." (24)


         In the Hollywood film made about Gandhi, much emphasis was placed
on a scene where he was arrested for riding in a South African train coach
reserved for Whites.  This incident did indeed occur, but for very
different reasons than those the film portrayed!

         For the liberal myth is that Gandhi was protesting at the
exclusion of non-Whites from the train coach: in fact, he was trying to
persuade the authorities to let ONLY upper caste Indians ride with the

         It was NEVER Gandhi's intention to let Blacks, or even lower Caste
Indians, to share the White compartment!

         Here, in Gandhi's own words, are his comments on this famous
incident, complete with reference to upper caste Indians, who he
differentiated from lower caste Indians by calling the former "clean":

         "You say that the magistrate's decision is unsatisfactory because
it would enable a person, however unclean, to travel by a tram, and that
even the Kaffirs would be able to do so. But the magistrate's decision is
quite different. The Court declared that the Kaffirs have no legal right to
travel by tram. And according to tram regulations, those in an unclean
dress or in a drunken state are prohibited from boarding a tram. Thanks to
the Court's decision, only clean Indians or colored people other than
Kaffirs, can now travel in the trams." (25)


         It is also a myth to presume that Gandhi was opposed to racial
segregation. Witness this piece of his writing, published in his newspaper,
Indian Opinion, of 15 February 1905. It was a letter to the White
Johannesburg Medical Officer of Health, a Dr. Porter, concerning the fact
that Blacks had been allowed to settle in an Indian residential area:

         "Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be
chosen for dumping down all Kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension.
Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs
from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must
confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian
population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my
countrymen." (26)


         In response to the rise of White nationalist politics, which
stressed racial separation, Gandhi wrote in his Indian Opinion of 24
September 1903:

         "We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do,
only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as
dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one
alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the
predominating race." (27)

         On 24 December 1903, Gandhi added this in his Indian Opinion

         "The petition dwells upon `the co-mingling of the colored and
white races'. May we inform the members of the Conference that so far as
British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If
there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is
the purity of type."  (28)

         And yet the liberal delusion over Gandhi lives on . . .


(1) The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahmedabad, 1963, Volume II p. 74
(2) The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahmedabad, 1963, Volume IV p. 193
(3) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 18 March 1905
(4) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 9 September 1905
(5) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 9 September 1905
(6) MK Gandhi, Letter to "The Times," London, 12 November, 1906, as
reproduced on "The Complete Site on Mathatma Gandhi,"
(7) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 8-6-1907, "New Obnoxious Law", as reproduced
at "The Complete Site on Mathatma Gandhi,"
(8) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 8-6-1907, "New Obnoxious Law", as reproduced
at "The Complete Site on Mathatma Gandhi,"
(9) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 8-6-1907, "New Obnoxious Law", as reproduced
at "The Complete Site on Mathatma Gandhi,"
(10) MK Gandhi, Memoirs of the Indian Stretcher Bearer Corps, as published
in "Indian Opinion", 28-7-1906, and reproduced on "The Complete Site on
(11) MK Gandhi, Memoirs of the Indian Stretcher Bearer Corps, as published
in "Indian Opinion", 28-7-1906, and reproduced on "The Complete Site on
(12) MK Gandhi, Collected Works, memoirs of the Indian Stretcher Bearer
Corps, as published in  "Indian Opinion", 28-7-1906, and reproduced on "The
Complete Site on Mathatma
(13) James D. Hunt, Gandhi and the Black People of South Africa, Shaw
University and reproduced on "The Complete Site on Mathatma
(14) James D. Hunt, Gandhi and the Black People of South Africa, Shaw
University and reproduced on "The Complete Site on Mathatma
(15) James D. Hunt, Gandhi and the Black People of South Africa, Shaw
University and reproduced on "The Complete Site on Mathatma
(16) James D. Hunt, Gandhi and the Black People of South Africa, Shaw
University and reproduced on "The Complete Site on Mathatma
(17) B. R. Nanda, Mahatma Gandhi - A Biography, page 105, The Official
Mahatma Gandhi e-Archive, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation India,
(18) MK Gandhi, Letter to W.T. STEAD, London, 16 November 16, 1906, from a
photostat of the typewritten office copy: S.N. 4584, as reproduced at "The
Complete Site on Mathatma Gandhi,"
(19) MK Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi - Volume III, page
337, The Official Mahatma Gandhi e-Archive, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
(20) MK Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume III, page
285, "The Official Mahatma Gandhi e-Archive, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation
(21) Mahadev Desai , Day to day with Gandhi - Volume II, page 291, The
Official Mahatma Gandhi eArchive, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation India,
(22) MK Gandhi, The Hindu-Muslim Unity, page 45,  "The Official Mahatma
Gandhi e-Archive, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation India,
(23) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 25 March 1905
(24) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 24 March 1906
(25) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 2 June 1906
(26) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 15 February 1905
(27) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion, 24 September 1903
(28) MK Gandhi, Indian Opinion,24 December 1903

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