We need to talk about Churchill

With Winston Churchill making an appearance on British bank notes it really is a good time to talk about Churchill, and not in the sycophantic way that floppy haired Tories like to gush over the former Prime Minister.  Churchill is far from the untouchable war hero he is often made out to be. In reality he was a racist, sexist, elitist snob that quite possibly has one of the least well deserved reputations of any historical figure.

Winston Churchill made no secret of his racism, stating to Leo Amery, “I hate Indians…They are a beastly people with a beastly religion”.  The racism didn’t stop at insults, Churchill was an advocate of genocide, he said that “I do not admit…that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race…has come in and taken its place” and “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes”.  This genocidal attitude towards everyone that wasn’t white manifested itself when Churchill was in power with famine in India.  The policy of Rice Denial during World War Two was essentially an order from Churchill to starve India.  Millions of people in India died as a result of the imperialist actions by Britain.  Churchill even attempted to blame the famine on Indians themselves by claiming that Indians were “breeding like rabbits”.  Churchill saw Indians as nothing more than animals that he could treat as he wished for the good of the British Empire.  So a quick glance at Churchill’s foreign policy shows us that there’s going to be a white supremacist on the £5 note.

On top of the genocide, Churchill also viewed eugenics favourably and held anti-Semitic views.  Churchill advocated sterilization of those he deemed “feeble minded” and stated that “the Feeble-Minded and Insane classes…constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate”.  Churchill’s anti-Semitism becomes apparent when we look at his attitude towards the USSR.  He thought of the Soviet Union as a “world wide communistic state under Jewish domination”.  With the genocide, eugenics and anti-Semitism Churchill would find himself well placed in the fascist parties that history sees him as being the scourge of.  Churchill was also a sexist pig as he believed women should not have the right to vote.  Basically any prejudice that shapes the opinions of any small minded moron Churchill probably subscribed to it.

Churchill’s finest hour is believed to be his contribution to the victory of World War Two.  I believe Churchill’s supposed key role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War Two is little more than a myth perpetuated by those who like to inspire a patriotic pride in Great Britain using Churchill’s charisma and highly air polished war aims.  Britain’s war aims were to preserve the British Empire and assisting in the fight against Nazi Germany was a means of doing this.  The idea that Britain’s war was fought to rid Europe of fascism and save the Jewish people of Europe from persecution seems trivial given the way that Britain behaved towards its colonial subjects and that atrocities against Jewish people were largely ignored in the British war effort.  Liberating the Jewish population of Europe only really became a British aim after the war.  Churchill was not one of those that fought, he was not one of those that had their homes and possessions destroyed, he was not one of those that died fighting.  He was a figurehead that loathed the poor and was indifferent to their suffering as he lived in comfort and occasionally made a radio broadcast.

What putting Winston Churchill on the £5 note shows is that Britain is a society built on the idea of white supremacy.  The “legal” killing of Mark Duggan is just one of the latest indicators of Britain’s entrenched racism and Churchill, an embodiment of everything vile about Britain, appearing on the £5 just confirms that the ruling classes of Britain are proud of the country’s racist past and present.

7 responses to “We need to talk about Churchill”

  1. Barrie Thompson says:

    My family lived in Churchills constituency and my grandfather and father both active in their TU and Labour Party fought against him before WW2 and 1945 election my grandfather hated him and passed on to me his hatred for years now I have tried to change peoples minds about him but his myth continues to dominate but that’s all it is a myth but like religion how do you combat it 

  2. Sam Mace says:

    This article shows a great historical ignorance of some things. Firstly, as the result of the second world war Britain was essentially bankrupt and this led to the slow but eventual destruction of the British Empire. If Churchill only cared for (no doubt he did care for it) the British Empire he would have made a deal with the Nazis and either withdrawn from the war in early 1940-41. After all lord Halifax who was at the time the favorite before Churchill to become PM wanted to make a deal with the Nazis.  

    Churchill did fight in the first world war and he had to be persuaded not to go onto the Normandy beaches as the invasion was happening by the King at the time. This was quite natural for a man from the Marlborough family who had a great ‘fighting’ history. London was incessantly bombed during the Blitz and it is well noted he stood on the roof of Downing street which was incredibly dangerous.  Just because he didn’t lose a home or possessions doesn’t mean he wasn’t dedicated, also how could liberating the Jewish population be a priority after the war? With Nazi Germany’s defeat the mass extermination camps had already been liberated so that doesn’t make any sense. 

    You seem to ignore the fact that Churchill was  a 19th-20th century aristocrat. He was hardly going to have progressive views on things such as the British empire. When you analyse a historical figure you have to consider the context of the times in which they grew up in. One doesn’t analyse Caesar in a modern historical context as it would be inappropriate.  However what he did was help stop quite possibly the most monstrous regime of all time. A task which at times in the war seemed almost impossible and did drive Britain for a time into almost bankruptcy and complete defeat. War at the time was hardly popular either with the first world war still lingering in a lot of people’s minds. Churchill was dedicated to this aim of defeating Nazi Germany and for this great accomplishment he has great admiration from many and rightly so. 

    Of course it is not right we gloss over some of the views Churchill held and it should be mentioned more. However he held firm when all of western Europe had fallen and for that his greatest accomplishment is what he is remembered for. 

    • Christopher McMahon says:

      So the context of the time excuses Churchill’s actions? Britain should be proud of a man that did and believed the things I’ve mentioned in the article? We can just shrug off his racism and sexism because of the times he lived in?
      And Nazi Germany posed a threat to the British Empire, that’s a big reason why Britain kept fighting them and their ally Japan, who also posed a pretty big threat to the British Empire.
      The British Empire was a monstrous regime as well.  It’s responsible for genocides and I’ve got no desire to give any respect to Churchill as one of its biggest cheerleaders. It was a monstrous empire that Britain, like you said, basically bankrupted itself trying to keep hold of its imperial project during the war and the decades that followed.
      Looking at the history of WW2 through the roles of individuals is unhelpful given the numbers involved. The number of resources, labour hours and deaths that produced the results of the war makes me think that speeches by Churchill weren’t all that vital.
      And when you say that the aim of liberating the Jewish population of Europe doesn’t make sense, atrocities against Jewish people were known of and weren’t acted upon but popular perception of the war now makes it look like one of liberation.
      In short, Churchill was a white supremacist and I have no desire to make apologies for him. 

      • Sam Mace says:

        You cannot look at historical figures without placing it in context. I didn’t say we should applaud his supremacist and sexist attitudes but i did say that he was an 18th-19th century aristocrat who wasn’t going to be a force for social change. Even John stuart Mill the famous liberal, who believed in women’s rights was racist does that mean we throw out all of his work because he happened to have a view which was common at the time, No you simply state that he had this view and it needs to be weighed up against the other things he did. 

        Japan certainly did yes, but to argue Britain fought the war to keep the empire is simply not true. The Nazis would in the early stages of the war would have been more than happy with a peace treaty and i don’t doubt that Britain could have maintained their empire in this kind of negotiation. Yes, the British empire was bad i haven’t made any claims to the contrary.  

        No Britain was bankrupted by the second world war which led to the slow dismantling of the empire. Do you think Churchill simply made speeches?… He was head of state and made an invaluable contribution. You may not like the man but again Churchill was critical for Britain in the war and to say otherwise is foolish. 

        Atrocities against the people of Europe were known about in late 1944 and a plan was drawn up by America but rejected at the time. Now I am not sure exactly how much the allies knew about the atrocities, i doubt they knew the full extent as only a few people ever escaped from the camps. However at the time it was clear the Germans were on the brink of losing the war and thus the plan should have gone ahead. 

  3. Christopher McMahon says:

    It’s quite useful that I think John Stuart Mill was a scumbag as well then. Simply saying it was the common view of the time doesn’t make it any less abhorent. You could say you’re viewing slavery in “context” or just about anything in the context of the time, it’s a disgusting attempt to justify horrible attitudes. Churchill as a white supremacist then deserves the same amount of respect that a white supremacist deserves now.
    And I’ll reiterate. people that worked, fought and died did an infinite amount more to end the war than Churchill did. The “sacrifices” Churchill made were not his own, he sacrificed other lives in the defence of an empire.
    And meetings of senior Allied figures in the earlier parts of the suggested that they knew of the threat to the Jewisih population of Europe. There’s one such meeting in 1943 when Eden, Halifax and others met to discuss the threat of extermination of tens of thousands of Jews in Bulgaria, Eden was concerned that if they helped the Jewish population of Bulgaria they would have to help all Jewish populations. They knew that hundreds of thousands were at risk but it went ignored. Atrocities against Jewish populations were actually left out of war propaganda by the British Ministry of Information because they didn’t see the Jewish population as entirely innocent.
    All the evidence together I have no desire to make apologise for Churchill or the ruling classes of Britain during WW2.

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