Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yep just like him

Except he was right about ONE BIG THING, but Churchill was otherwise wrong and very very modern Republican Party in so many respects, just cut and paste and you'll have a John Bolton/Bill Kristol address.

The young Churchill charged through imperial atrocities, defending each in turn. When concentration camps were built in South Africa, for white Boers, he said they produced "the minimum of suffering". The death toll was almost 28,000, and when at least 115,000 black Africans were likewise swept into British camps, where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his "irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men". Later, he boasted of his experiences there: "That was before war degenerated. It was great fun galloping about."

Then as an MP he demanded a rolling programme of more conquests, based on his belief that "the Aryan stock is bound to triumph". There seems to have been an odd cognitive dissonance in his view of the "natives". In some of his private correspondence, he appears to really believe they are helpless children who will "willingly, naturally, gratefully include themselves within the golden circle of an ancient crown".

But when they defied this script, Churchill demanded they be crushed with extreme force. As Colonial Secretary in the 1920s, he unleashed the notorious Black and Tan thugs on Ireland's Catholic civilians, and when the Kurds rebelled against British rule, he said: "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes...[It] would spread a lively terror."

Of course, it's easy to dismiss any criticism of these actions as anachronistic. Didn't everybody think that way then? One of the most striking findings of Toye's research is that they really didn't: even at the time, Churchill was seen as at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was warned by Cabinet colleagues not to appoint him because his views were so antedeluvian. Even his startled doctor, Lord Moran, said of other races: "Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin."

Many of his colleagues thought Churchill was driven by a deep loathing of democracy for anyone other than the British and a tiny clique of supposedly superior races. This was clearest in his attitude to India. When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he "ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back." As the resistance swelled, he announced: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." This hatred killed. To give just one, major, example, in 1943 a famine broke out in Bengal, caused – as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved – by the imperial policies of the British. Up to 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused. He raged that it was their own fault for "breeding like rabbits". At other times, he said the plague was "merrily" culling the population.


Michael Shirley said...

Just FYI, when Churchill referred to "poisoned gas," he was talking about tear gas.

Anonymous said...

This would be why Hilter thought he could reach a modus vivendi with Churchill.

pansypoo said...

churchill was good for one time.

Montag said...

Contra that FYI, no. The general gas in use at the time of WWI and in the years afterward was mustard gas, which most assuredly was poison. In fact, Churchill authorized continuing research into mass production of new chemical weapons before the start of WWII.

Many of Churchill's general attitudes toward the brown-skinned and "primitive" can be found in news and diary excerpts of the day which Nicholson Baker has dutifully included in his Human Smoke.

Jeffrey said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

It does give cause to teapartiers insistence that Hitler might not have been so bad, considering Churchill's oafishnes.
That post was an eyeopener.
It must be a requirement that "strong leaders" that come from privilege must sustain themselves and followers with the damndest lies.

Anonymous said...

Most of the racist attitudes described were, alas, hardly unique to Churchill, or even to conservatives.

Woodrow Wilson is usually ranked among the 20th century's liberal presidents, but he's the same guy who sent the US Marines in 1916 to overthrow the democratically elected government of Haiti on some bogus pretext.

Just sayin'.

Privatize the Profits! Socialize the Costs!

Karin said...

None the less, the fight against Hitler was his finest hour, as it was Stalin's.