Then leftist W.H. Auden, paying valedictory tribute to the reactionary William Butler Yeats in 1939, condescendingly conceded that Kipling’s literary merit gained him forgiveness for his Imperialist views:
Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.
Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.
Columbia graduate Katherine Trendacosta, night editor of io9, writing in 2016 is a lot less tolerant than was W.H. Auden back then.
Ms. Trendacosta decisively warns potential viewers of Disney Movie’s “The Jungle Book” (2016) that “Rudyard Kipling Was a Racist Fuck and The Jungle Book Is Imperialist Garbage.”
We are currently in the 21st century. We are in the second decade of the 21st century and there are not one, not two, but three Jungle Book movies on the horizon. And that means that itâ€™s time to remind everyone that Rudyard Kipling was a piece of racist, imperialist trash. …
[There is] inherent racism and imperialism baked into The Jungle Book. And the argument about when the book was written and by whom doesnâ€™t excuse either Disney or Warner Bros. from making adaptations of it in the 21st century. Unless these movies are loaded with historical context, or are subversive critiques of Kipling, theyâ€™re still adapting, for entertainment, a story that has fundamental issues. …
Iâ€™m not saying that Kipling should be censored, but I am saying that he cannot be presented without context. There are messages in The Jungle Book that are very hard to remove. Hell, Disney managed to add to the problems in the 1960s when it added a character called King Louie, who is widely seen as a racist caricature of black people. (Kiplingâ€™s book has monkeys, which are the worst of the animal lot, being incapable of having government and only able to mimic others without a decent culture of their own.)
And, at the end of the day, weâ€™re still left with a story where a white person exoticizes a country and its people. How does this idea pass muster in 2016?
Spectacular, isn’t it?
I find, to my amazement, that I now live in a world in which a graduate of an elite university is (apparently) unable to read “The Jungle Book,” a tremendously lovable children’s classic, with appreciation or enjoyment because she finds the author’s world-view and politics ideologically offensive.
Ms. Trendacosta does not actually find it necessary to review the Disney cartoon. She considers it sufficient to indict the author of the book on which, I expect, the animated feature is very loosely based, and to heap abuse on him and the original book.
I am frankly more than a little skeptical as to whether this reviewer has ever actually read “The Jungle Book.” She is probably, in reality, just applying political taxonomy based on a glance at the Wikipedia plot summary and an on-line political critique by Edward Said she found somewhere. Had she really read the book, I have to believe that she would speak differently.
Apart from this reviewer’s manifest unfamiliarity with, what the late Susan Sontag would have referred to as, the erotics of the reading experience of “TJB,” I was myself struck by this writer’s total reliance upon petitio principii, “the assumption of the initial point.” It never remotely occurs to Ms. Trendacosta that she is under any obligation to offer arguments against Imperialism or the late Rudyard Kipling’s belief in the superiority of British culture and institutions to those indigenous to India. Her own perspective is totally absolute and goes without saying, and if you were to violate it by thought crime, one gets the impression that you’d be lucky to get off being merely humiliated and ostracised. You should really be immediately taken out and shot.
io9 is a techie geek sort of blog, the kind of blog that reviews games, software developments, and nerd culture sorts of things, Marvel comics, Star Wars, Game of Thrones. It is depressing and alarming to find the likes of io9 infested by Social Justice Warrior-types, too illiterate to have ever read “The Jungle Book,” but ideologically intolerant and arrogant enough to denounce it anyway.