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Taming CannibalsRace and the Victorians$
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Patrick Brantlinger

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450198

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450198.001.0001

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“God Works by Races”

“God Works by Races”

Benjamin Disraeli’s Caucasian Arabian Hebrew Tent

(p.86) 4 “God Works by Races”
Taming Cannibals

Patrick Brantlinger

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Benjamin Disraeli's racist interpretation of history and politics. Disraeli was seen by his opponents as racially distinct, dangerous, and alien. His father made sure that he converted to Christianity, but he was still perceived as a Jew, and therefore viewed by his detractors as an out-of-place and potentially traitorous “native.” Yet he became Victorian Britain's greatest imperialist statesman. As both a writer and a politician, Disraeli sought to counteract anti-Semitism with a positive version—philo-Semitism—based on the idea that “all is race.” As much as any other British politician, Disraeli shaped Middle Eastern policy and influenced British attitudes toward the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks were not cannibals, of course, but they were viewed as barbarians; Romantic and Victorian authors often characterized them as bloodthirsty, lascivious monsters, even vampires. Yet through most of the 1800s, British foreign policy, including Disraeli's when he was prime minister, supported the tottering Ottoman Empire as protection against Russian meddling in Afghanistan and India.

Keywords:   Benjamin Disraeli, racism, Victorian Britain, British statesmen, Jews, philo-Semitism, anti-Semitism, Ottoman Empire, foreign policy

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