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Thu Feb 5, 2015, 01:38 PM

The dark side of Winston Churchill’s legacy no one should forget

Washington Post
Published February 3, 2015
By Ishaan Tharoor

The dark side of Winston Churchill’s legacy no one should forget

There’s no Western statesmen — at least in the English-speaking world — more routinely lionized than Winston Churchill. Last week marked a half century since his funeral, an occasion that itself led to numerous commemorations and paeans to the British Bulldog, whose moral courage and patriotism helped steer his nation through World War II.

The power of his name is so great that it launches a thousand quotations, many of which are apocryphal. At its core, Churchill’s myth serves as a ready-made metaphor for boldness and leadership, no matter how vacuous the context in which said metaphor is deployed.

But there’s another side to Churchill’s politics and career that should not be forgotten amid the endless parade of eulogies. To many outside the West, he remains an unvarnished racist and a stubborn imperialist, forever on the wrong side of history. Churchill’s detractors point to his well-documented bigotry, articulated often with shocking callousness and contempt. “I hate Indians,” he once trumpeted. “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” He referred to Palestinians as “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.” When quashing insurgents in Sudan in the earlier days of his imperial career, Churchill boasted of killing three “savages.” Contemplating restive populations in northwest Asia, he infamously lamented the “squeamishness” of his colleagues, who were not in “favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”

Churchill’s racism was wrapped up in his Tory zeal for empire, one which irked his wartime ally, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As a junior member of Parliament, Churchill had cheered on Britain’s plan for more conquests, insisting that its “Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

India, Britain’s most important colonial possession, most animated Churchill. He despised the Indian independence movement and its spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, whom he described as “half-naked, seditious fakir.” Most notoriously, Churchill presided over the hideous 1943 famine in Bengal, where some 3 million Indians perished, largely as a result of British imperial mismanagement. Churchill was both indifferent to the Indian plight and even mocked the millions suffering, chuckling over the culling of a population that bred “like rabbits.”

Leopold Amery, Churchill’s own Secretary of State for India, likened his boss’ understanding of India’s problems to King George III’s apathy for the Americas. Amery vented in his private diaries, writing “on the subject of India, Winston is not quite sane” and that he didn’t “see much difference between (Churchill’s) outlook and Hitler’s.”

At: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/02/03/the-dark-side-of-winston-churchills-legacy-no-one-should-forget/

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Arrow 54 replies Author Time Post
Reply The dark side of Winston Churchill’s legacy no one should forget (Original post)
forest444 Feb 2015 OP
TreasonousBastard Feb 2015 #1
philosslayer Feb 2015 #2
TreasonousBastard Feb 2015 #4
madokie Feb 2015 #26
Name removed Feb 2015 #33
zappaman Feb 2015 #34
Name removed Feb 2015 #36
uppityperson Feb 2015 #39
Name removed Feb 2015 #40
uppityperson Feb 2015 #41
Name removed Feb 2015 #43
uppityperson Feb 2015 #44
Name removed Feb 2015 #46
uppityperson Feb 2015 #47
Name removed Feb 2015 #51
Terra Alta Feb 2015 #45
Post removed Feb 2015 #48
greatauntoftriplets Feb 2015 #50
Terra Alta Feb 2015 #52
forest444 Feb 2015 #8
DerekG Feb 2015 #49
TreasonousBastard Feb 2015 #53
Dreamer Tatum Feb 2015 #3
Brickbat Feb 2015 #5
Waiting For Everyman Feb 2015 #6
Nye Bevan Feb 2015 #17
cwydro Feb 2015 #38
denverbill Feb 2015 #7
tenderfoot Feb 2015 #9
forest444 Feb 2015 #10
LittleBlue Feb 2015 #54
TimeToEvolve Feb 2015 #11
Nye Bevan Feb 2015 #16
forest444 Feb 2015 #27
Spider Jerusalem Feb 2015 #12
forest444 Feb 2015 #18
Nye Bevan Feb 2015 #20
Name removed Feb 2015 #35
Nye Bevan Feb 2015 #19
ARMYofONE Feb 2015 #13
Nye Bevan Feb 2015 #14
smirkymonkey Feb 2015 #30
JI7 Feb 2015 #15
cpwm17 Feb 2015 #21
forest444 Feb 2015 #22
malaise Feb 2015 #24
forest444 Feb 2015 #25
Name removed Feb 2015 #37
cwydro Feb 2015 #42
sibelian Feb 2015 #23
forest444 Feb 2015 #31
Tierra_y_Libertad Feb 2015 #28
forest444 Feb 2015 #29
seveneyes Feb 2015 #32

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 01:57 PM

1. Is there anyone who approaches importance who doesn't have a dark side?

Theodore Roosevelt enjoyed killing Native Americans, Woodrow Wilson was about as racist as it gets, I remember Mother Theresa being trashed over something (probably an abortion position)...

OTOH, I heard Hitler liked kittens.

It is the sum total of a person's life that counts, and often, as in Churchill's case, an overwhelming event. Churchill was generally considered a fuckup until he happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time to be the voice of inspiration for the British people as they fought for their lives. That made up for a lot.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:08 PM

2. I've never heard of a dark side of President Obama

 

His policies may not be to everyone's liking, but he truly appears to be a good man. Perhaps the best-hearted man we've had as President.

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Response to philosslayer (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:11 PM

4. Maybe, but not for the lack of trying...

even around here.

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Response to philosslayer (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:19 PM

26. I agree with that wholeheartedly

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Response to philosslayer (Reply #2)


Response to Name removed (Reply #33)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 10:36 PM

34. Welcome to DU!

Any other thoughts on President Obama?

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Response to zappaman (Reply #34)


Response to Name removed (Reply #36)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:01 PM

39. blocked by congress, as you well know

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Response to uppityperson (Reply #39)


Response to Name removed (Reply #40)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:05 PM

41. too bad the repubs had enough votes to block most everything, eh?

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Response to uppityperson (Reply #41)


Response to Name removed (Reply #43)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:15 PM

44. Too bad that muslim kenyan didn't use his mind control powers and make them do what he wanted?

"we"?

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Response to uppityperson (Reply #44)


Response to Name removed (Reply #46)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:23 PM

47. Wait. Are you saying President Obama used those mind powers to get people to vote against what


he wanted? That too bad "we didn't get enough Democratic votes" was because he used his mighty brain powers?

muslin, kenyan, brain powers=trifecta!

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Response to uppityperson (Reply #47)


Response to Name removed (Reply #43)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:18 PM

45. OK, so you're not an Obama fan.

Who do you support for 2016?

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Response to Terra Alta (Reply #45)


Response to Post removed (Reply #48)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:26 PM

50. So you like conservatives like Churchill?

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Response to Post removed (Reply #48)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:36 PM

52. would you have been happier with McCain/Palin or Rmoney?

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 03:39 PM

8. It's worth mentioning because most people really aren't aware of his more sordid legacies.

And the writer neglected to mention his genocidal actions toward the Irish, Kurds, Kenyans, and others (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/not-his-finest-hour-the-dark-side-of-winston-churchill-2118317.html). It can even be argued, against working-class Brits themselves (http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/churchill/gold_standard_1925/).

It's one thing, you see, to privately struggle with pettiness and hatred. It's quite another to use one's position of power to act out on them - however much the media glosses over it after the fact (which in a way makes it even worse).

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:25 PM

49. Well, there's a dark side, and then there's a Dark Side

Churchill harbored an imperial bloodlust that shocked many of his contemporaries, and this is to be distinguished from, say, FDR--who possessed an innate decency despite questionable policies (e.g., Japanese internment, saturation bombing).

Ever wonder why the British people decided to oust their great hero after WWII was won? It's because he scared the crap out of a lot of even-tempered people.

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Response to DerekG (Reply #49)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 04:49 AM

53. Oh, I agree...

If it wasn't for WWII, he would have gone down in history as a minor wanker. His prior Foreign Service (or whatever they call it over there) service was mediocre at best and he suffered being recalled for whatever euphemism they have for idiocy.

George Washington, btw, was in a similar predicament before the Revolution. Some say his indecision and silliness while in the British Army was a direct cause for the Iroquois Nation to change sides and go over to the French-- making it the the French and Indian War. (The Iroquois war chief was rumored to have asked "Who is this idiot they sent us?" He was stripped of rank over that one. Winning the revolution saved his ass, although many historians don't think he had much to do with winning it.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:10 PM

3. I think I get it. Ye who is without sin may cast the first stone.

Yet somehow the world had the wherewithal to defeat Germany and Japan. Hm. Wonder if we should have.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:11 PM

5. People are complicated.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:13 PM

6. And he smoked cigars.

There's nothing more fun than smearing dead people. There should be an award for that, this guy might win it.

I'm sure Hitler would've been much nicer to all those groups. And without Churchill, this moral critic might very well be writing an article to that effect, in German.

Just when I think this world can't possibly get more lame, it does.

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Response to Waiting For Everyman (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:35 PM

17. Yes. And I bet he smoked them during meetings of the War Cabinet.

Imagine how unpleasant that would have been for any non-smokers present. I'm sure he didn't even think of setting up a special, separately ventilated room where he could go to smoke his cigars so that the second-hand smoke would not annoy his colleagues.

What an evil man.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #17)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:00 PM

38. Lol,

I don't think there was such a thing as a non-smoker in those days!

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 02:38 PM

7. He was a conservative. What do you expect?

Conservatives are to a large degree racist, ethnocentric, nationalistic and imperialistic.

Half the conservatives I know today say crap similar to this regularly. His characterization of Indians was very little different from Hitler's characterization of Jews and his attitude towards using poison gas on 'uncivilized tribes' was the same attitude Mussolini had towards the Ethiopians he used it on.

Frankly, I'd never heard these quotes but I can't say they surprised me at all.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 03:43 PM

9. Gallipoli

How he managed to not end up in front of a firing squad over that, I'll never know.

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Response to tenderfoot (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 04:58 PM

10. And I wonder how many millions Snooty Dave will blow on the "commemoration" this time.

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Response to tenderfoot (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 6, 2015, 05:15 AM

54. Yep. Only because was the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough

 

and a wealthy American socialite mother.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 05:57 PM

11. not suprised, im glad to see theese important facts gaining visibility.

conservatives and psychopaths are two heavily overlapping sets.

i like to think that the only reason that Churchill opposed Hitler was because he was trying to cut in on Churchill's action, which was taking over the world.

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Response to TimeToEvolve (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:32 PM

16. YES. Remember all those countries Churchill invaded when he returned to power in 1951?

The whole world heaved a huge sigh of relief when that megalomaniac left office in 1955.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:41 PM

27. Egypt and Kenya certainly did

And Eisenhower did too, at least when Churchill's protégé Anthony Eden left office in disgrace after the Suez Crisis.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:13 PM

12. Not that much different in those respects to his near-contemporary Teddy Roosevelt

who referred to Native Americans as "savages who delight in cruelty for cruelty's sake" and wrote approvingly of Houston Stewart Chamberlain's "Foundations of the Nineteenth Century" (a book that was tremendously influential on Hitler and Nazi ideas about race). He was also supportive of theories of eugenics (he wrote that "society has no business permitting degenerates to reproduce", believed in the racial superiority of the "Anglo-Saxons", and was an unquestionable imperialist (he was one of the people agitating for war with Spain as assistant secretary of the Navy).

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:35 PM

18. Both had dark sides; but with a difference:

Teddy Roosevelt pursued a progressive agenda, passing the nation's first real labor laws, environmental laws, product safety and financial regulations, and anti-trust/monopoly laws. The economy and living standards both grew to record levels, and both the elite and the general population benefited.

Churchill quashed labor rights and reimposed the Gold Standard knowing full well it would benefit his social class at the expense of just about everyone else, who would have to live with sharp restrictions on currency, credit, and trade competitiveness. The British economy consequently spent most of the 1920s in recession, and actually grew much more in the 1930s (after his policies were reversed) than in the '20s.

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Response to forest444 (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:38 PM

20. And Mussolini made the trains run on time.

I guess the point you are making is that bad aspects of a person can be counteracted by good things that they do. Like, I don't know, saving the world, would be one example.

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Response to forest444 (Reply #18)


Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:36 PM

19. We should pretty much dig up all of those folks, put them on trial, and hang their corpses (nt)

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:27 PM

13. Lots of admired persons from history have sordid pasts. Margaret Sanger of PP, anyone?

 

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:28 PM

14. George Washington was a racist slaveholder. Jefferson was a racist slaveholder who raped his slaves.

Lincoln was perfectly willing to retain slavery if it preserved the union. FDR interned Japanese-Americans.

Not many people were saints. Even Mother Theresa has her critics.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 09:23 PM

30. Mother Theresa actually was awful.

She actually allowed people to suffer needlessly when she could have helped alleviate their suffering, believing that suffering was a gift from god. Of course, when she was ill she repaired to only the best California clinics. Don't get me started.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 06:30 PM

15. one of the ways they would justify taking over other nations

And the way they treated them.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:09 PM

21. He's high on the list of the worst monsters of the 20th Century

 

but since he massacred and oppressed dark-skinned Third Worlders, many don't care or make excuses.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:13 PM

22. +1

Plus he was theatrical, English, and blue-blooded - which in the eyes of many (especially right-wingers) is akin to Sainthood.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:15 PM

24. Thread winner

by a distance

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Response to malaise (Reply #24)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:19 PM

25. Truth, as Churchill himself once admitted,

is incontrovertible.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #21)


Response to cpwm17 (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 11:08 PM

42. Churchill one of the worst monsters of the 20th century?

Seriously?

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:13 PM

23. He was an arsehole.


Loads of people in Britain hated him. You just don't hear their side of the story, that's all.

My upstairs neighbour worked in munitions during WWII. She called him "fatty".

Pretty useful guy, but an arsehole.

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Response to sibelian (Reply #23)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 09:40 PM

31. He hurt a lot of good people with the Gold Standard in the 1920s, and it probably didn't bother him

"The best argument against democracy," he famously said "is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 08:50 PM

28. Great men are almost always bad men. Lord Acton

 

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #28)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 09:08 PM

29. You left out the context:

which is the first part of the aphorism. That is, that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I should add that deeds make men great, not theatrics. Churchill was heavy on the latter, but his record on the former left much to be desired. The ruinous Gold Standard, his genocidal policies toward the Irish and the colonies, his forcing FDR to delay the Invasion of Normandy for over a year in the hope Hitler could take out the Soviet Union first, and the Suez Crisis - all testament to how much hype can make up for bad faith.

Great motivational speaker, I'll give him that.

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Response to forest444 (Original post)

Thu Feb 5, 2015, 09:54 PM

32. Complications of a simple point in time

 

Change is a result of time. Cheating to solve for time is harder than living in it.

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