Month: July 2019

Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Prime Min­is­ters are always pop­u­lar tar­gets. Boris John­son, Britain’s new PM, wears the bulls­eye over there now. For every­thing from domes­tic squab­bling to “insen­si­tiv­i­ty” in recit­ing “The Road to Man­dalay” on a vis­it to Myan­mar (for­mer­ly known as Bur­ma). In the immor­tal words of Richard Nixon, let us say this about that.

* * * * * “I appoint­ed [Lord Roberts] Com­man­der-in-Chief in India when I was Sec­re­tary of State. That was the year I annexed Bur­ma. The place was in utter anar­chy. They were just butcher­ing one anoth­er. We had to step in, and very soon there was an ordered, civ­i­lized Gov­ern­ment under the vig­i­lant con­trol of the House of Com­mons.” There was a sort of glare in his eyes as he said “House of Com­mons.”  —Lord Ran­dolph Churchill to Win­ston Churchill in The Dream, 1947 Mandalay as Dog Whistle Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing nowa­days, we deem paeans to the British Empire impe­ri­al­ist, racist twad­dle.…

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“The Respectable Tendency” and the New PM, 1940-2019

“The Respectable Tendency” and the New PM, 1940-2019

Anent the new PM

My friend Steve Hay­ward had the wit to para­phrase, in reac­tion to the arrival of Boris John­son at 10 Down­ing Street, some com­ments about anoth­er incom­ing PM, eighty years ago next May. “Cam­bridge Cute,” a friend remarked of Steve’s good piece.

Speak­ing of Cam­bridge Cuties, I imme­di­ate­ly thought of what Andrew Roberts described as “The Respectable Ten­den­cy,” the British estab­lish­ment, in his great book, Emi­nent Churchill­lians.  So I dug into a dozen books to find more of what they said back then. (Light­ly para­phrased.)

“Coup of the rabble…”

“Even whilst the new PM was still at Buck­ing­ham Palace kiss­ing hands, the junior pri­vate sec­re­tary and Chamberlain’s PPS, Lord Dun­glass [Alec Dou­glas-Home] had joined Rab But­ler and ‘Chips’ Chan­non at the For­eign Office.…

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Churchillian Fiction Continues to Roll off the Presses

Churchillian Fiction Continues to Roll off the Presses

Churchill quotes in the realm of fic­tion are a well-known fea­ture of the pop­u­lar cul­ture. So good an apho­rist was Churchill that even posthu­mous­ly, he con­tin­ues to “man­u­fac­ture” quote fic­tion. Some­times it’s the work of an obscure fig­ure, pinned on Churchill to make it more inter­est­ing.

The schol­ar Man­fred Wei­d­horn has an expla­na­tion for what we call Churchillian (or Yogi Berra) Drift: “You do not find your­self the tar­get of Churchillian Drift unless, like Churchill, you are already a fine apho­rist. Part of the rea­son it’s so easy to mis­at­tribute bril­liant say­ings to great apho­rists is that they have already coined so many bril­liant say­ings them­selves.”

The Ama­zon link for the above title is not pro­vid­ed.…

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