The Occasional Winston

Listening to Barack Obama advertise his man crush on Hassan Rouhani makes my skin crawl. Rouhani is a man with whom the United States has many scores to settle but he and the mullahs have Obama’s number, not that it’s all that hard to pick up. Fresh off his diplomatic “triumph” in Syria, Obama is all but shrieking: “I am a chicken ripe to be plucked.”

As it happens, a chicken metaphor figures prominently in Churchill’s speech of December 30, 1941, to the Canadian Parliament. The Churchill Centre has posted an article with background on the speech here. The article recounts the story behind the famous Karsh photograph of Churchill that was taken following the speech.

At last the United States was to join Great Britain in the fight against the Nazis. Churchill was buoyed by his meeting with Roosevelt on the trip that brought him to Ottawa. “I have been all this week with the President of the United States,” Churchill reported, “that great man whom destiny has marked for this climax of human fortune. We have been concerting the united pacts and resolves of more than thirty States and nations to fight on in unity together and in fidelity one to another, without any thought except the total and final extirpation of the Hitler tyranny, the Japanese frenzy, and the Mussolini flop.”

Churchill added: “There shall be no halting, or half measures, there shall be no compromise, or parley.”

Churchill then paused to take a look back at the coming of the war and the course of events so far. He lamented the fall of France as “the great French catastrophe.” Churchill was appalled by the French capitulation to Hitler: “It was their duty and it was also their interest to go to North Africa, where they would have been at the head of the French Empire.” Then Churchill added this memorable note of proud defiance:

When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, “In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.” Some chicken; some neck.

The video below captures the moment.

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