Defending Rowan Williams

Over at Crooked Timber, Harry Brighouse’s defense (sort of) of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Rowan Williams doesn’t need me to defend him, having, presumably, better placed and more powerful friends (one in partiuclar). But here goes anyway. One of my several Anglophile (and this one a rare Episcopalian) in-laws just sent me (approvingly) this piece from the Sunday Times, and added the following, rather lovely if a little unlikely, quote, recommending a different version of multiculturalism from that which he takes the Archbishop to be committed (which, I gather from googling, comes from Mark Steyn):

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee”—the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

‘’You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Let us take the Archbishop’s supposed treason first. The Archbishop’s actual speech, has been available for days. And the World at One transcript is here. So it is surprising that journalists like Ms. Marrin have been able to get away with what seem like wilful mireadings and mishearings.