Year: 2011

Churchill and the “Feeble-Minded,” Part 2

Churchill and the “Feeble-Minded,” Part 2

Churchill in 1896.

con­tin­ued from part 1

Churchill’s ear­ly atti­tudes toward British “moral supe­ri­or­i­ty” were unfounded—but he was born into a world in which vir­tu­al­ly all his coun­try­men believed the same thing, from the Sov­er­eign to a Covent Gar­den gro­cer.

And yet it was Churchill, the aris­to­crat­ic Vic­to­ri­an, who argued that Sudanese had a “claim beyond the grave…no less good than that which any of our coun­try­men could make”; that in South Africa, Boer racism was intol­er­a­ble and the Indi­an minor­i­ty deserved the same rights as all British cit­i­zens. (This was some­thing Gand­hi nev­er for­got, though Churchill did,  and some­thing which Gand­hi praised years lat­er, when they were oppo­nents over the India Bill.)

It was this same Churchill who urged that shiploads of food be sent to a starv­ing Ger­many after the Great War end­ed the wartime block­ade; that the 1920 Arm­rit­sar mas­sacre in India must be con­demned and its per­pe­tra­tors pun­ished (“Fright­ful­ness is not a rem­e­dy known to the British phar­ma­copoeia”); that the coal min­ers should be com­pen­sat­ed after the 1926 Gen­er­al Strike; that car­pet bomb­ing Ger­man cities in World War II was moral­ly rep­re­hen­si­ble.…

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Churchill and the “Feeble-Minded,” Part 1

Churchill and the “Feeble-Minded,” Part 1

Churchill in 1910.

We pub­lished in Finest Hour an account of Churchill’s youth­ful (cir­ca 1910) fling with Eugen­ics, a pseu­do-sci­ence pop­u­lar at the turn of the cen­tu­ry, that favored ster­il­iz­ing or con­fin­ing the “fee­ble-mind­ed” to “main­tain the race” (race being what­ev­er race the Eugen­ics enthu­si­ast hap­pened to be).

This drew an irate let­ter from a man who said he will nev­er think the same of Churchill, know­ing that he could have sup­port­ed such hor­ren­dous ideas (which were actu­al­ly once law in Britain and in some Amer­i­can states):

No tru­ly edu­cat­ed intel­li­gent per­son, even in those ear­ly years, can have bought into Eugen­ics.…

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Churchill’s Life Today: December 7th Quotes

Churchill’s Life Today: December 7th Quotes

7 Decem­ber 1936 (House of Com­mons): “May I ask my Rt. Hon. Friend [Prime Min­is­ter Bald­win] whether he could give us an assur­ance that no irrev­o­ca­ble step… [Hon. Mem­bers: “No!”] …that no irrev­o­ca­ble step will be tak­en before the House has received a full state­ment, not only upon the per­son­al but upon the con­sti­tu­tion­al issues involved. May I ask him to bear in mind that these issues are not mere­ly per­son­al to the present occu­pant of the Throne, but that they affect the entire Con­sti­tu­tion.” [Hon. Mem­bers: “Speech,” and “Sit down!”]

Churchill lost care­ful­ly built polit­i­cal cap­i­tal by ris­ing to defend Edward VIII, who was fac­ing abdi­ca­tion over his insis­tence on mar­ry­ing Wal­lis Simp­son, a divorced Amer­i­can.…

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