Friday, November 16, 2007

The Churchill Series – Nov. 15, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In Churchill and America (Free Press, 2005) historian Martin Gilbert tells us of a concern Churchill had in February, 1952:

Churchill had continued to be concerned by anti-American feeling in Britain. But he was convinced that its extent was exaggerated. A delegation of American Senators who had visited several countries had come to London, he told the House of Commons, “and during their visit they asked to see me, and I received them in my home. I was impressed by the fact that this powerful body was greatly disturbed by the anti-American feeling which they thought existed in the House of Commons.”

Churchill had told the Senators: “Do not be misled. The anti-American elements in Parliament are only a quarter of the Labour Party, and the Labour Party is only a half of the House. Therefore, you may say that one-eighth at the outside give vent to anti-American sentiments. The Labour Party as a whole, and the Government of the day, supported by the Conservative Party in this matter, are whole-heartedly friendly to the United State, and recognize and are grateful for the part they are playing in the world and of the help they have given to us.” (p. 409)
Our media often seem to suggest anti-Americanism is something that began about the time President George W. Bush took office. What we’re just read helps correct that suggestion.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of the time in which Churchill was speaking: It was less than seven years after the end of WW II and Marshall Plan aid was in full flow to Britain and other democracies in Europe. Also, America was the free world’s bulwark against Soviet aggression in Europe and Asia.

Tomorrow’s post will also concern “anti-“ feeling between Britain and America, but we’ll look at things the other way: anti-British feeling among Americans.