Testing Winston Churchill’s ‘greatness’ in the crucible

Karl Lyimo

ESTEEMED readers who burned their fingers (so to speak) in school laboratories may remember that a ‘crucible’ is a vessel made of a very refractory material: a melting-pot that withstands great heat.

As such, crucibles are used for melting and calcining substances requiring a high degree of heat…The term is also figuratively defines a ‘severe test’ – such as the one to which the ‘Greatness’ of the Briton Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) should be subjected in efforts to determine once and for all his worthiness of same! Churchill, ‘the British Bulldog,’ was ‘voted’ (by fellow Britons, no doubt) in Year-2002 as ‘the Greatestever Briton’ – virtually trashing former ‘Great-Weights’ William Shakespeare (English Dramatist/Poet: 1564- 1616); Naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), and ‘Steam’ Engineer Isambard Brunel (1806-1859)!

So: why was the man ranked the Greatest Briton EVER 37 years posthumously – and all of 386 years after Shakespeare mortally wended his way back to his Maker? Indeed, Churchill was ‘an English Colonel, Journalist and Politician – twice Prime Minister of the UK – and a Nobel Literature Laureate…’ I’d the privilege (dubious or blessed!) of being under the tutelage of Britons for my History, English and Geography Classes in the late 1950s and early ’60s. So, we’d drummed into our then-fragile heads only ‘positive’ British stories and History.

No wonder Shakespeare, Darwin, Churchill, etc, were up there on the top of the totem pole this side of Heaven! They taught us to thump our chests and utter highfalutin demagoguery as ‘I’m a Member of the British Empire!’ ‘The King is Dead; Long Live the King!’; ‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Language’ (English)…

Oh, they sounded so confidence-building in those days… In hindsight – and especially after learning from the ubiquitous Internet – grisly details emerged… That, for example: Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill may’ve been a hero to his compatriots.

But, to many others, he was ‘a racist and White supremacist…’ who couldn’t care less regarding his fellow Europeans who emigrated to the ‘New World’ set out to decimate the native Red Indians and the aborigines of Australia…

I recently penned a piece titled ‘Is there a person greater than Winston Churchill to the Brits?’ I dwelt at relative length upon ‘our’ Churchill as a Leader of the Brits at peace and in war as Prime Minister and Defence Minister, especially during World War-II (1939-45).

I also marveled at ‘Churchillian sayings!’ (‘If you’re going through Hell, keep going!’ ‘I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker’s prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter!’)… …And I took a few potshots at his racism.

For instance, he’d no qualms using ‘chemical weapons’ against the Kurds in Afghanistan and other ‘uncivilized tribes!’ [See DAILY NEWS-Dar: December 7, 2016]. A reader emailed me the same day, stating that “England’s racist Prime Minister Churchill whose mother was an American, expressed JOY at Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor!

On this day (December 7) in 1941, Japan attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii -- thereby bringing the US into the Second World War the following day!).

“To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy,” my reader went on, quoting Churchill… “Now, at this very moment, I knew the United States was in the war (WW-II) up to the neck – and in to the death…! So, we’d won after all...! Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed.

As for the Japanese, they’d be ground to powder…!” My reader also quoted ‘our’ Churchill as saying “That half-naked fakir (Mahatma Ghandi) wants to drive the Brits out of India…!” [NB: my Reader’s identity is withheld herein for reasons of courtesy]. Anyway, Churchill is openly quoted a-plenty elsewhere for racist, supremacist remarks. [Google for ‘The 10 greatest controversies of Winston Churchill’s career,’ by Tom Heyden, BBC News Magazine; January 26, 2015].

To Churchill, for instance, ‘White Protestant Christians were above White Catholics – while Indians were higher than Africans!’ British India lost 3m to the 1943 famine in Bengal!

Yet, Churchill insisted on India exporting rice ‘to fuel the war effort’ – blaming the Indians for the famine, because they ‘breed like rabbits!’ On Mahatma Gandhi in detention, Churchill recommended he shouldn’t be released on the account of a mere threat to fast! “We should be rid of a bad man and an enemy of the Empire if he died,” he reportedly told the Cabinet!

In his 1937 unpublished article titled ‘How the Jews can Combat Persecution’ discovered in 2007, Churchill said Jews ‘have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer.

There’s the feeling that the Jew is an incorrigible alien, that his first loyalty will always be to his own race!’ Oh, with so much Churchillian negativism, was the man Britain’s most illustrious personage, then? Was he? I ask you. Yes; YOU!


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