Neocon questions: Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? And where is the great Churchill of our times?

on 9 Comments

Joseph Lelyveld on a new India famine book in the New York Review of Books focuses on Churchill’s racism, “Winston’s refusal to accept things as they are and not as they were in 1895,” as Leopold Amery, sec’y of state for India, put it.

No one ignited the fury that Churchill brought to any discussion of Indian issues more reliably than Mahatma Gandhi. The two men had met only once, briefly in 1906 when Gandhi was a well-dressed barrister, not a Mahatma. Yet in Churchill’s eyes he stood out in his later guise as a “malignant subversive lunatic” and “thoroughly evil force, hostile to us in every fiber.”… Gandhi is “the world’s most successful humbug.” When in 1943 the imprisoned Mahatma threatens a fast, the prime minister orders Amery to be sure he’s told that “we had no objections to his fasting to death if he wanted to.”…

[Lelyveld speculates that Churchill’s] impressions of Gandhi encapsulat[ed] prejudices agaisnt Hindus brought back from his service as a cavalryman in India for a couple of years, starting in 1896. Hindus, he grumbled, “were a beastly people with a beastly religion.” Or again, “the beastliest people in the world next to the Germans.”

9 Responses

  1. Taxi
    December 13, 2010, 10:30 am

    I really hope you don’t mean that Churchill who said the following on 12th May 1919:

    “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

  2. Citizen
    December 13, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Maybe the neocons should take a good look at the real Churchill, the man who never cared a whit about the individual anywhere, but was obsessed his entire life with the glory of Imperial England, the chief competition as he always saw it (Germany), and the childish desire to lead wars. (Eventually he admitted for a brief instant, after WW2 and his alliance with his pal, “Joe Stalin,” that he had “killed the wrong pig.”) With that flavor, his chief motivation was always gaining more personal power and any means was justified. See here for a glimpse of this neocon idol: link to

    • Sumud
      December 13, 2010, 8:10 pm

      At that link Citizen, this jumped out, Churchill:

      In 1919, as Colonial Secretary Churchill advocated the use of chemical weapons on the “uncooperative Arabs” in the puppet state of Iraq. “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas,” he declared. “I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes.” Some year’s later, gassing human beings to death would make other men infamous.

      An example of Churchill’s racial views are his comments made in 1937: “I do not admit 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, has come in and taken their place.”

  3. matter
    December 13, 2010, 1:41 pm

    The real question is, where is the Israeli de Klerk?

  4. pabelmont
    December 13, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Churchill said of Gandhi, ‘a “malignant subversive lunatic” and “thoroughly evil force, hostile to us in every fiber.”…’ ??

    He is like all the USA pundits who use words of praise (of foreigners) like “moderate” and words of accusal like “extremist” or “terrorist” or “unreasonable”.

    They, like Churchill, judge others by their own measures and in respect of their own interests, but disguise this by using words suggestive of absolute, clear, non-side-taking judgments. Probably many neocons would call USA and Israeli actions “reasonable” and “moderate” and call the same actions (say torture and murder/assassination) “extreme” and “terrorist” when practiced by others. It appears that dear President Obama, whom so many Americans had high hopes for as a moral and ethical and principled politician — contradiction in terms as that may be — are saddened to see him advocate assassination and torture. And refuse to investigate of prosecute it when it is done by his own administration or that of GB2.

    • Antidote
      December 13, 2010, 10:23 pm

      “It appears that dear President Obama, whom so many Americans had high hopes for as a moral and ethical and principled politician — contradiction in terms as that may be — are saddened to see him advocate assassination and torture.”

      So far, I am as disappointed in Obama as the next person. At least he had Churchill’s bust removed from the White House as soon as he moved in. Would have been my first redecorating move as well. I view Churchill as one of the biggest war mongers and war criminals of the 20th century. It would be both tragic and ironic if Obama became the biggest mass murderer of the 21st century. All he would need to surely get there is bomb Iran

  5. lysias
    December 13, 2010, 4:21 pm

    Richard Burton, having researched Churchill before playing him in The Valiant Years, had a violent dislike for the man:

    Burton was banned permanently from BBC productions in 1974 for writing two newspaper articles questioning the sanity of Winston Churchill and others in power during World War II – Burton reported hating them “virulently” for the alleged promise to wipe out all Japanese people on the planet.

    Winston Churchill.

    • lysias
      December 13, 2010, 4:36 pm

      Here’s confirmation of that about Burton:

      Richard Burton was banned from the BBC in 1974 for writing, in an article about his experience of starring in a biopic about Churchill, in which he said he virulently hated Churchill and all his kind. He said:

      “In the course of preparing myself… I realized afresh that I hate Churchill and all of his kind. I hate them virulently. They have stalked down the corridors of endless power all through history…. What man of sanity would say on hearing of the atrocities committed by the Japanese against British and Anzac prisoners of war, ‘We shall wipe them out, everyone of them, men, women, and children. There shall not be a Japanese left on the face of the earth’? Such simple-minded cravings for revenge leave me with a horrified but reluctant awe for such single-minded and merciless ferocity.”

      When Winston Churchill was an apologist for Fascism

      Does anybody else share my recollection that one of the spokesmen for Ingsoc in Michael Radford’s movie of Nineteen Eighty-Four (Burton’s last movie, although it’s not his voice that I recollect saying this) says precisely, “We shall wipe them out” about Oceania’s current enemies.

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