I know I’ve made the point before, but there is fresh evidence in recent weeks of how much the left today hates western civilization and human excellence in general. Once again the left is determined to flunk what I’ve long called “the Churchill test.”
Once upon a time leading liberals loved Churchill. Think of Isaiah Berlin’s great 1949 Atlantic Monthly essay, “Churchill in 1940,” or how much Arthur Schlesinger loved him, not to mention the total fanboy crush JFK had on Churchill. Remember, too, that in the 1950s some leading American conservatives were not all that enthusiastic about Churchill; William F. Buckley Jr. was downright hostile to him (though he changed his mind), and Pat Buchanan still dislikes Churchill.
But in the aftermath of Darkest Hour and the best actor Academy Award going to Gary Oldman, voices on the left are at it again, calling Churchill a “war criminal” and mass murderer on the same scale as Hitler or Stalin. A popular Indian politician, Shashi Tharoor, wrote in the Washington Post that “In Winston Churchill, Hollywood Rewards a Mass Murderer.” Apparently the Washington Post has decided to reward morons.
Here’s the breathless conclusion of Tharoor’s Post piece:
This week’s Oscar rewards yet another hagiography of this odious man. To the Iraqis whom Churchill advocated gassing, the Greek protesters on the streets of Athens who were mowed down on Churchill’s orders in 1944, sundry Pashtuns and Irish, as well as to Indians like myself, it will always be a mystery why a few bombastic speeches have been enough to wash the bloodstains off Churchill’s racist hands.
Many of us will remember Churchill as a war criminal and an enemy of decency and humanity, a blinkered imperialist untroubled by the oppression of non-white peoples. Ultimately, his great failure — his long darkest hour — was his constant effort to deny us freedom.
Tharoor’s case depends on repeating a number of undying myths about Churchill, or gross distortions of badly tangled affairs. Soren Geiger does a terrific job of unwinding the more egregious claims Tharoor makes in this article in the American Spectator. But Tharoor has lots of company. Shree Paradkar, the “race and gender columnist” of the Toronto Star . . . actually I could pretty much just stop right here, couldn’t it? But no, you need to take in some of her “Winston Churchill, the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands” article to believe it. It includes gems such as:
Oldman might as well have danced on 3 million dead bodies, many of whose loved ones were too weak to cremate or bury them. Such tributes for a heinous white supremacist who once declared that “Aryan tribes were bound to triumph.” Words as hollow as the tunnel-visioned ideals on which people fashion this man, but they can’t stem the drip, drip of blood from his hands.
Fortunately we have Terry Reardon of Hilldale College’s Churchill Project on the job refuting Paradkar’s paranoia point-by-point, but see also Richard Langworth, who offers up a catalogue of fresh attacks on Churchill from leftist ignoramuses. Richard notes at the end of this bibliography of nihilism:
Nearly forty years ago an equally great Churchill performance, Robert Hardy in The Wilderness Years, was received with equal acclaim by press and public. There was no chorus of hate, no trumped-up charges, no hint that Churchill’s overall record was in any way debatable. Alas times have changed.
As for the calumny of Churchill’s supposed role in the Bengal famine of World War II, I wonder if any of Churchill’s detractors have ever asked how many would have starved if Japan had succeeded in conquering the Asian subcontinent, which is what surely would have happened if any of them had been in charge?
Times have changed indeed. The left’s fundamental self-loathing of the western inheritance, hostility to human excellence, and childlike grasp of political reality has led to these increasingly candid expressions, for which in a sense we should be grateful—at least the left is being more honest.
Here once again we should repair to the observation of British historian Sir Geoffrey Elton, who wrote: “There are times when I incline to judge all historians by their opinion of Winston Churchill: whether they can see that, no matter how much better the details, often damaging, of man and career become known, he still remains, quite simply, a great man.”
Ah—that “great man” thing: contemporary leftist egalitarians cannot tolerate such distinctions among human beings.