ALMOST PRECISELY seventy years ago, in March of 1942, Winston Churchill dispatched his Marxist-leaning cabinet minister and political rival Stafford Cripps to secure India’s co-operation in the war against Hitler. Partly a result of the well-founded suspicions of Indian nationalists — chief among whom were Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji, Subhas Chandra Bose and Mohandas Gandhi — but mostly the result of Churchill’s covert efforts, the negotiations of the Cripps mission failed (as Churchill all along intended). In the subsequent months Gandhi, anticipating a German-Japanese victory, led his colleagues in the Quit India movement, demanding the withdrawal of Britain and immediate Indian independence.
Y OU DOUBTLESS have come upon the Associated Press headline of a Julie Watson article informing the world that “US Marines posed with [a] Nazi symbol in Afghanistan.” I myself suspect, but cannot yet prove, that this represents an instance of all-too-familiar ignorance, plain and simple. Having taught military-aged youth, I’m depressingly aquainted with the history-challenged. This is quite bad enough, and also indicative of a systemic rot, the depth of which was soon revealed in the even more objectionable media coverage which ensued. I submit to the court of opinion the following example: