Missouri State Representative Rick Stream fired off a bizarre e-mail to his House GOP colleagues this week that discusses the dangers of Islam...citing an 1899 quote from former British prime minister Winston Churchill.
"Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world," writes Stream, quoting Churchill in a widely distributed e-mail that was forwarded to Daily RFT by way of a displeased recipient. "No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith."
And what exactly does this have to do with the Missouri legislature?
It's not all that clear.
We reached out yesterday to Stream, a Republican from Kirkwood and chairman of the budget committee, and have not yet heard back. We'll update if we do.
It appears that the e-mail was sent out from Rick.Stream@house.mo.gov at 11:21 p.m. on Tuesday night to an e-mail listserve that includes Republican representatives and possibly other staff in the Missouri House. Not everyone was pleased.
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The e-mail, full version on view below, offers some praise for Churchill and explains that the quote comes from 1899 when he was a soldier and journalist. Stream praises him as a "great war leader...to whom the Western world must be forever in debt." The selection he cites come from a piece of Churchill's writing called the River War.
Here's the full Churchill quote that Stream included in his e-mail:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Stream adds at the end, "Churchill saw it coming......"
Daily RFT confirmed with an expert at the National Churchill Museum, based in Missouri, that the passage is question is in fact from Churchill.
And Richard Langworth, a prominent Churchill historian, writes to us in an e-mail that the quote is in his book and adds, "All sorts of people have used these quotations to infer all sorts of things about modern situations. In the generic sense there is an application, but I would caution that these words were written over a century ago."
A quick Google search of the quote in Stream's e-mail shows that, for some reason, the quote has popped up on random websites in recent days. It's unclear where Stream got it from or what he was referring to. The text in his e-mail that's separate from the quote also appears to be recycled.
Continue for a copy of the full e-mail.
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