Friday, February 20, 2009

The Churchill Series - Feb. 19, 2009

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

Readers Note: I first published this post three years ago. Churchill looks as great and Ghandi as lacking in judgment today as they did then.


The other day I listened to a discussion, the outcome of which was this: the participants agreed Churchill wasn’t really a great man. He only seems that way, they said, because his ideas and actions are always being compared to people like Hitler and Mussolini. If he was compared to someone like – and here the discussants all agreed on Gandhi – well, Churchill wouldn't look so great matched against Gandhi.

I didn’t say anything, but I thought to share a reaction with you here in the series.

So I went home and got out some notes I made a few years ago about Gandhi.

Let’s compare Churchill and Gandhi positions with regard to what were then, and are always, literally life and death matters: our response to violence and the kind of governance we're prepared to accept for ourselves and others.

Churchill first.

On Oct. 29, 1941 Churchill told the students at his old school, Harrow:

“Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.''

Vintage Churchill!

Now Gandhi.

On Apr. 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. Four days later Gandhi urged Danes, Norwegians and others to adopt a passive, non-cooperative response to the Nazis, even if that meant mass slaughter. He told the Nazis victims:

“ The unexpected spectacle of endless rows upon rows of men and women simply dying rather then surrender to the will of an aggressor must ultimately melt him and his soldiery.”

That wasn’t a one-day only response. On June 29, 1940, with the Battle of France lost and the Battle of Britain about to begin, Gandhi advised the British Viceroy that Britain should:

“…fight Nazism without arms…invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island. If these gentlemen choose to occupy you homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered.”

The Viceroy later described himself as “taken aback.”

The deaths of millions never softened the Nazis. If anything, slaughter seems to have energized them to even greater evil; something Churchill had predicted.

As long as people know some history, value Western freedoms, and understand those freedoms must always be defended, Churchill will rank among the Immortals.


Anonymous said...

That's a great comparison and I didn't know about those quotes of Gandhi's.

His thoughts may work against a humane colonial power like the British. But is doesn't work against an inhumane invading power like the Nazi's.

Scott S.

JWM said...


I agree.

But mainly it is very good to hear from you again.

I've been wondering how you are doing.

I hope you see this and send along an email.

I'd like to know how you're doing.

Would you be interested in writing a brief "after action" report, to include perhaps a few links to some summary articles from Oz news sources?


Anonymous said...

Hello John,

I’m fine personally, though I don’t live too far from the fire area there has been little interruption to daily life. The major thing you notice is the smoke in the air, which is from back burning to avoid another flare up. Most people are pretty subdued, even when you get together with friends it’s always bought up, thankfully no one I know has lost anyone.

The fires are still in the news as some are still going on (but are in less populated areas) and today (22/02) is a National Day of Mourning (watching it now). The death toll is up to 209, tragically an interstate volunteer fire fighter (returning the favour to Victorians who went to Canberra to help) died when a tree fell on his truck.,21985,25076111-661,00.html

My Brother works for a council near the area and has spent some time in the affected areas marking trees to be removed as they are dead and are dangerous (he has Masters in Forestry). He has 3 employees who lost their houses, one of the guys had quite a few neighbours killed, the council is helping them out with supplies and time off etc.

The bush fires, like most disasters (natural and manmade) have bought out the worst in people,21985,25071570-5018723,00.html petty thieves,,21985,25084558-661,00.html con artists,,21985,25080922-661,00.html scammers,,21985,25089740-5018723,00.html heartless employers,,21985,25080922-661,00.html scum bags,,21985,25060019-5018723,00.html and even worse.
They also bring out the best,21985,25064851-5018723,00.html,21985,25042250-5018723,00.html,21985,25065147-5018723,00.html countless stories of heroism,,,5018723,00.html even hero dogs,,21985,25076869-5018723,00.html some help with Tax,,21985,25074884-5018723,00.html and 120 million dollars donated.

There will be a Royal Commission to investigate what went so wrong and how to prevent it happening again, this time they say they will actually listen!,21985,25071487-5018723,00.html

Scott S.

Hope that’s what you want, any queries, you can contact me at work today