I will not hesitate to confess that up until a few days ago, I – along with most of my country – believed Winston Churchill to be a hero of our country. He was not a personal icon of mine or someone who I aspired to be, but I considered him a man who had helped win the second world war and end its atrocities. A few days later, his contribution to ending the war is still undeniable, and something I respect him for, but I now feel disgust and sadness when I hear him praised. As a society, we have failed to acknowledge the dark side of Churchill, the side that has caused thousands upon thousands of deaths.
Winston Churchill was a despicably racist man who was responsible for the suffering of many.
Now I’m sure there are some of you who have already rolled your eyes and snickered at these stupid millenials, trying to vilify “The Great Prime Minister Of All Time (Ever)!™” but this is not just some conspiracy founded on whispered rumours, it is a fact. It is a fact that I am sure many people will choose not to accept because it sickens them to accept that they were wrong, to accept that Churchill is not an idol who symbolises the victory of freedom, the end of opression, and the reign of justice. For those of you who are raising your eyebrows and waiting for evidence to dismiss, let me present to you some quotes from the ‘great hero’ himself.
Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed
-Churchill, on the independence movement in India, 1930
Right so that’s not 100% damning.
Relief would do no good, Indians breed like rabbits and will outstrip any available food supply
-Leo Amery records Churchill’s stance on why famine relief was refused to India, 1944
Okay, this is looking a little more convincing now.
I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
-Churchill addressing the Peel Commission (1937) on why Britain is justified in deciding the fate of Palestine
Yes folks, that’s right, he really did just refer to white people as “a higher-grade race”, I really think that’s pretty persuasive evidence that The Great Winston Churchill was a racist.
Now, there’s probably someone reading this who still isn’t convinced, after all, everything so far has only been words, not actions, do racist words really mean he’s a racist man? (For the record, the answer is yes) So for those who need further convincing, here is a little insight into Churchill’s involvement in the Bengal Famine. The Bengal Famine, 1943, was responsible for the deaths of over 3 million people. 3 million people. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately the population of Jamaica combined with the population of Iceland. There were many factors that caused this horrific famine, the war, crop failures, exporting too much food to other parts of India. The one thing that is clear, is that Winston Churchill was largely responsible for the high casualty count. Not only did he refuse to send food aid to India, he also refused to allow Canada or the USA to give aid. He blamed the Indians for the famine, insisting that it couldn’t be that bad because Gandhi was still alive and blaming them for their suffering, suggesting that if they didn’t “breed like rabbits” then maybe they wouldn’t be starving. Some may write this off as unintentional error, as him failing to act due to not realising the severity of the situation. But to me, there is no doubt that he stood idly by because he did not possess compassion for anyone whose skin was not white. If you were not white, he did not care if you lived or if you suffered, and starved, and dwindled away to a corpse. How can it be argued that his motives were innocent when there are so many occasions in which he himself openly confessed his hatred for Indian people. This is a man who bragged about shooting 3 people in Sudan, who lacked humanity to such an extent that he called thousands of deaths “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”
His racist beliefs combined with his position of utmost power, let more than 3 million people die. That is more than a character flaw, more than a mistake made with good intentions, it is a crime that we must never forget. We must not hail Churchill as some flawless hero, because in doing so we disgrace the memory of those 3 million Indians who died due to his decisions, the 3 Sudanese people he shot, the 11,000 Kenyans killed to protect Britain’s imperialist heritage, and the countless other human beings that died because of him. We must not let Winston Churchill be known only as a hero. As he himself said, “”History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Hope you enjoyed this post, it’s a lot more negative in tone than most of my other posts but it was just an issue that I felt so passionately about that I had to post something. Make sure you drink some water, stay on the lookout for cars whilst playing pokemon go, listen to the hamilton soundtrack. Take care of yourself x
Other information from:
- Sen, Amartya (1981). Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-828463-5.
Image from wikimedia commons.