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Old 02-11-2017, 06:36 PM
marshmallow marshmallow is offline
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Cultural villains in non-Western countries

The list of commonly referenced evil leaders in Western culture goes something like Hitler, Stalin, Wilhelm II, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and Pontius Pilate. In America, there's often references to various serial killers or cult leaders, like Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, or Jack the Ripper. "Drinking the kool-aid" is a reference to the Jim Jones cult. For white collar crime, it's Bernie Madoff. Traitors would be called Judas, Brutus, or in America, Benedict Arnold. A puppet or collaberator would be called a quisling, a reference to Vidkun Quisling.

So who are the villains in the popular imagination of non-Western countries? I could guess some, like various Mongol leaders, Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, some popes, various Chinese leaders, but that's pretty general and I'm curious about more concrete examples. Like would Thug Behram be the Indian version of Jack the Ripper that people there would know, or more like obscure trivia?
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Old 02-11-2017, 08:47 PM
Evan Drake Evan Drake is offline
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Wilhelm II ? Napoleon ? Genghis Khan ?

Apart from the fact the first two are people fought against by the Anglosphere --- kinda dodgy as criterion, you might as well throw in Oom Paul Kruger and Geronimo --- although Napoleon was pretty much the same as Hitler, and caused equal relative disaster for his time, no-one now would call him 'evil', ( from his own estimation 'Au fond, I'm not such a bad sort of chap' ). Certainly a scoundrel, but too banal ( despite his genius ) to be a devil.


Kaiser Bill was amiable enough, and though he's too far away for us to know him, Genghis was just another successful conqueror, leading the greatest warriors in the world.


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Traitors would be called Judas, Brutus, or in America, Benedict Arnold.
Or in Britain: George Washington.
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Old 02-11-2017, 09:13 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Japan has some interesting ones, particularly so because they tend to be either heroes or villains as the work requires. For example, Oda Nobunaga can either be the heroic champion, a man who loved battle but wanted to reunite the country or, well, an actual Demonic Lord of Hell.

The guy who killed him, Akechi Mitsuhide, often gets the same treatment. As do the two Shogun who followed him, Toyatomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
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Old 02-11-2017, 09:19 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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In Panama, Pedrarias (Pedro Arias de Avila) is the great cultural villain. The Spanish governor of Panama, he had his rival Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific, executed on trumped up charges.

Although Pedrarias founded the city of Panama in 1519, there is not one single street or square or public building named after him, and no statues. I am only aware of one small bust at the original site of the city. In contrast, Balboa is regarded as the great cultural hero. One of the most important streets in the city is named after him, where there is a very conspicuous statue. A neighborhood as well as the currency and one of the most popular beers are also named after him.

Last edited by Colibri; 02-11-2017 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:34 AM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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I remember watching a Korean martial-arts film in the 70's set at some time in the mythical past, in which the villian (spit) was Japanese.

I was watching a Chinese matial-arts fantasy when she pointed out that the good guys (the locals) were speeking Shanghainese, and the bad guys (from out of town) were speaking Mandarin.
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:37 AM
Zach29 Zach29 is offline
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In modern Chinese society it's the Japanese. With all the horrible atrocities that were committed against Chinese people during the occupation. While Chinese society has now been able to develop cordial relations with the Japanese, Chinese will still take any excuse to denigrate the Japanese and their culture as dysfunctional (or ridicule them as inferior).
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:21 AM
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... Napoleon ? Genghis Khan ?
Here's where the French dumped the body of their evil leader Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they showed a little more respect than this for leaders they admired.

The Mongols were so disgusted by Genghis Khan that they buried him in an unmarked grave. They did erect a small memento for him though.
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Old 02-12-2017, 07:32 AM
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The argument about the character and influence (good or bad) of Napoleon over Europe is fought as hard as any of his battles. It would be worth a whole thread of its own.
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Old 02-12-2017, 09:53 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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The Mongols were so disgusted by Genghis Khan that they buried him in an unmarked grave.[/URL]
That was a Mongol tradition - and he specifically asked for that kind of burial if any of the stories about it are to be believed. There are many myths about his death (we don't know the circumstances at all), but his form of burial was by no means an insult to his memory.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:38 AM
Teuton Teuton is online now
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Or in Britain: George Washington.
Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference a traitor.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:44 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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King Leopold II of Belgium might be the greatest villain of Africa due to the atrocities he inflicted on the Congo Free State, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I would think that any number of other colonialists would not be remembered fondly in Africa, such as General Lothar von Trotha, who was responsible for the genocidal campaign against the Herero in Namibia.

William Walker, an American who made himself president of Nicaragua in 1856, is the great villain of Central American history. There are statues all over the place commemorating his defeat by a coalition of Central American countries.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:47 AM
septimus septimus is online now
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
That was a Mongol tradition - and he specifically asked for that kind of burial if any of the stories about it are to be believed. There are many myths about his death (we don't know the circumstances at all), but his form of burial was by no means an insult to his memory.
Thanks. I figured the Mongols were mistreating their great khan's body similar to the way the French mistreated the body of their Emperor.
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Old 02-12-2017, 12:49 PM
marshmallow marshmallow is offline
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If you think the figures I listed in the OP aren't demonized in Western culture now or in the past I don't know what to say. Hopefully you know what I'm looking for anyway. Pointing out ethnic or religious tensions is too general, like saying Protestants and Catholics don't like each other. Cromwell would be a more specific case.

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King Leopold II of Belgium might be the greatest villain of Africa due to the atrocities he inflicted on the Congo Free State, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But is he actually a cultural villain? Do Congolese or other African people say stuff like, "Man, you're a jerk. You're worse than Leopold!" or "My boss is such a slave driver, he's basically Leopold."
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:11 PM
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In modern Chinese society it's the Japanese. With all the horrible atrocities that were committed against Chinese people during the occupation. While Chinese society has now been able to develop cordial relations with the Japanese, Chinese will still take any excuse to denigrate the Japanese and their culture as dysfunctional (or ridicule them as inferior).
In China's version of the America's Army game (Government funded online FPS intended to boost military recruitment) the enemies you fight in the game are modern US soldiers, Russian soldiers, .... and 1940's era Imperial Japanese Soldiers complete with katanas and banzai attacks. In a game with modern Chinese weapons and uniforms.
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:15 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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But is he actually a cultural villain? Do Congolese or other African people say stuff like, "Man, you're a jerk. You're worse than Leopold!" or "My boss is such a slave driver, he's basically Leopold."
I think the man in the street would be more likely to reference someone more recent, like Mobutu. But I think when African nationalists want to condemn Western imperialism they might well bring up figures like Leopold.
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:40 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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God knows Israelis have a choice of historical enemies to choose from. They include the Ancient Egyptians, the Amalek, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Catholic Church, the Spanish, the Cossacks, the Germans... we've been blessed with plenty of nations to resent. As for individuals, I'd say the big ones are Hitler (natch), Pharaoh (the one from Exodus), Haman (the one from Esther) and Antiochus (IV, the guy the Maccabees were rebelling against).
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:01 PM
Mr. Kobayashi Mr. Kobayashi is offline
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference a traitor.
+1. He's simply thought of as the first POTUS, in as much as he's thought of at all.

Although if you're of Iroquois descent you might look unfavourably on the Virginian surveyor who was nicknamed Conotocaurious by their forebears, roughly 'town destroyer/village burner'.

If you're Armenian Talaat Pasha, widely regarded as one of the principle architects of the Armenian genocide.

The Norwegian Vidkun Quisling both in his homeland and beyond has become a byword for a treasonous collaborator.

If you're an Indian Buddhist, , a 6th century emperor who is described on an Indian government site as "...a cruel barbarian and one of the worst tyrants known."
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:26 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Robert Lundy is burned in effigy every year by Northern Ireland unionists, among whom the word "lundy" is used as a synonym for traitor.

Oliver Cromwell is probably considered the greatest villain in Irish history.

In Britain, I would guess Richard III and Guy Fawkes each have a claim on cultural villainhood.
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:41 PM
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference a traitor.
Often so referenced in humour, though.
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:56 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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Of course many of these are historical figures, even in non-Western countries. And some people who were officially reviled were heroes to others -- Luther, Jan Hus, etc.

In Mexico, Hernan Cortes, Santa Anna and Porforio Diaz remain unpopular.

The English AFAIK don't think too negatively of George Washington.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:48 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Alexander the Great
In Islamic Persian tradition Alexander the Great is literally portrayed as Satan incarnate. Interestingly he was also portrayed as being horned in Hellenic culture, but that was a positive thing (his horns denoted his decent from Dionysus)

Last edited by griffin1977; 02-12-2017 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:56 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is offline
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What do the Latin American countries think of Christopher Columbus? They call October 12 Dia de la Raza, not Columbus Day.
  #23  
Old 02-12-2017, 11:06 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference a traitor.
Indeed. He had his British admirers, then and now:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9...-ever-foe.html
http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/se...rge-washington
http://www.londonremembers.com/memor...rge-washington
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Old 02-13-2017, 12:09 AM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Although the First Jewish War was is generally better remembered (With the siege of Masada etc). In Jewish tradition the Third Jewish War is considered a bigger calamity, so much so that Hadrian, the Roman Emperor in charge during the conflict, is always given the epitaph "May His Bones Be Crushed" when he is mentioned in Jewish sources (not something ever done to the Emperors in charge during the First Jewish War)

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  #25  
Old 02-13-2017, 12:46 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
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So who are the villains in the popular imagination of non-Western countries?
Well, here in South Africa, I think you'll find it's often Westerners...
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:51 AM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Although not entirely negative the Nahua wife of conquistador Cortes is considered a legendary cultural villain by many in Central America.
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Old 02-13-2017, 12:33 PM
Some Call Me... Tim Some Call Me... Tim is offline
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William Walker, an American who made himself president of Nicaragua in 1856, is the great villain of Central American history. There are statues all over the place commemorating his defeat by a coalition of Central American countries.
And he mostly did it by filibustering! Truly an evil man.
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:19 PM
JustinC JustinC is offline
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference a traitor.
Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference anything. Just as William Pitt the Younger would be completely unknown to 99% of Americans, most British people would recognise the name but have no reference other than he was important once.
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:43 PM
Teuton Teuton is online now
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference anything. Just as William Pitt the Younger would be completely unknown to 99% of Americans, most British people would recognise the name but have no reference other than he was important once.
Indeed. I suspect most people know he was a President, less people would know he was the first. I'd be surprised if most people actually knew he was British, to be honest.

A few British villains that haven't been mentioned yet (and I know the OP wanted non-Western, but I like to feel I'm contributing):

Lord Haw Haw probably doesn't get referenced as often as he used to, but he's still a recognisable traitor in the Quisling mode.

Lord Lucan killed his family and ran away (probably), but tends to be more referenced in a comic, "Is this a good time to mention that I am actually Lord Lucan?" kind of way than as a murderer.
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Old 02-13-2017, 02:03 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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What do the Latin American countries think of Christopher Columbus? They call October 12 Dia de la Raza, not Columbus Day.
It depends very much how much they identify with their indigenous heritage. For people who still speak native languages and identify as indigenous, Columbus would indeed be a villain (along with the subsequent conquistadors in each nation). It's more complicated for mestizos (the majority in most Latin American countries), who are descended from both the conquerors and the conquered. In fact, Dia de la Raza commemorates the creation of the mestizo "race." But even so, the conquistadors are often depicted as cultural villains (mural by Diego Rivera).

In Panama, coins honor both Balboa, the conqueror (although one who is regarded as having treated the Indians relatively decently), and Urraca, a native chief who led the resistance to the conquest (against Pedrarias's troops, some of whom were very brutal).
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Old 02-13-2017, 04:39 PM
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One cultural type of villain in the West is someone with significant power, be that political, economic, social, or whatever. Is that the same elsewhere?
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Old 02-15-2017, 05:14 AM
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Nobody in Britain that I know would use George Washington to culturally reference anything. Just as William Pitt the Younger would be completely unknown to 99% of Americans,
William Pitt the Younger was something of an American hero, and although "the Younger" wouldn't mean anything to 100% of Americans, most Americans would have heard of Pittsburgh.
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Old 02-15-2017, 05:32 AM
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Just dropped by to add that, although Australia uses the standard western canon of villains mentioned in the first post, including local criminals and local politicians, one lesser villain who might not get picked in the USA is

Douglas MacArthur

I don't mean to say that he's in the same class as Genghis Khan and Stalin, but every true Australian of a certain age knows that MacArthur was a bit dispicable.
  #34  
Old 02-15-2017, 09:35 AM
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So who are the villains in the popular imagination of non-Western countries?
In some countries, the great villain is, in fact, America.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:07 PM
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Here's where the French dumped the body of their evil leader Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they showed a little more respect than this for leaders they admired.[/URL]
I feel that I should point out that the sarcophagus may look small in that shot, but in reality, that thing is enormous; I suspect the green base is probably 6' tall.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:51 PM
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In the Philippines, it's Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, except the northern part of Luzon (who keep re-electing her).

America is not really a bad guy, despite the excesses of their occupation. The Japanese WW2 occupation is seen as far, far, far worse.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:59 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Well, here in South Africa, I think you'll find it's often Westerners...
I think the OP was asking, which westerners specifically?

There are quite a few historical figures that are identifiable as "villains" in the even among people with with practically no knowledge of the history involved. e.g. Hitler, Stalin, and to a lesser degree Napoleon.

Are there non-western equivalents? Would Cecil Rhodes or Clive of India be remembered as villains?
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Old 02-15-2017, 03:30 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
Just dropped by to add that, although Australia uses the standard western canon of villains mentioned in the first post, including local criminals and local politicians, one lesser villain who might not get picked in the USA is

Douglas MacArthur

I don't mean to say that he's in the same class as Genghis Khan and Stalin, but every true Australian of a certain age knows that MacArthur was a bit dispicable.
I wonder if Winston Churchill falls into a similar category: considered a hero in Britain and America for his role in defeating Hitler, but viewed less favourably (insofar as they think of him at all) by the "lesser" peoples he held in such contempt and whose lives he held in such low regard.
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Old 02-15-2017, 05:53 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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I wonder if Winston Churchill falls into a similar category: considered a hero in Britain and America for his role in defeating Hitler, but viewed less favourably (insofar as they think of him at all) by the "lesser" peoples he held in such contempt and whose lives he held in such low regard.
Definitely true in Ireland where is he remembered for sending the Black and Tans (a brutal protestant militia force, and the reason the American cocktail of the same name is frowned upon) into Ireland.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:23 PM
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...

In Britain, I would guess Richard III and Guy Fawkes each have a claim on cultural villainhood.
Not that I have ever noticed, no. If anyone ever mentions Guy Fawkes, it is quite likely to be followed by some joke like "the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions". And I don't know anyone who is bothered about Richard III of England, although his being rediscovered in a car park was vaguely interesting.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:37 PM
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I wonder if Winston Churchill falls into a similar category: considered a hero in Britain and America for his role in defeating Hitler, but viewed less favourably (insofar as they think of him at all) by the "lesser" peoples he held in such contempt and whose lives he held in such low regard.
I shouldn't think India likes Churchill much.

And I don't think it was very friendly of him to send tanks and 10,000 troops to Glasgow.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:45 PM
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Definitely true in Ireland where is he remembered for sending the Black and Tans (a brutal protestant militia force, and the reason the American cocktail of the same name is frowned upon) into Ireland.
Tangent: Ben & Jerry once thought "Black & Tan" ice cream sounded like a good idea. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...n-Ireland.html
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