WINSTON CHURCHILL’S “PROBLEMATIC PAST” – “The Independent” is here to remind us all about it:
You can read the whole piece here.
As Raw writes, “His grandson, Nicholas Soames, has refuted charges of racism on the basis that he was simply speaking as ‘everyone’ did in his time – but not all historians agree.”
All historians never agree on anything, but the fact remains that throughout human history every group, tribe, ethnicity, nation, race and religion has thought itself to be better or smarter or more civilised or more special than everyone else – from an Amazonian tribe to ancient Greeks to China’s Middle Kingdom to the 19th century Europeans.
The belief that we are all not just human but actually equal in any meaningful sense (except perhaps in the eyes of God, for whatever it mattered in practice) is a very modern invention. The belief that we are all equal except our own culture, which is shit (a view popular amongst “The Independent” and “Guardian” contributors and readers) is even more recent historically.
Because as we castigate that right-winger Churchill for his very un-21st century racial views, it bears to recall that the sorts of people who would have contributed to and read “The Independent” and “Guardian” in the past had equally very un-21st century attitudes. Hence Karl Marx asking “Is it a misfortune that magnificent California was seized from the lazy Mexicans who did not know what to do with it?”, Friedrich Engels talking about “niggers”, and Che Guevara who mused about “indolent blacks” and described Mexicans as “a band of illiterate Indians.”
Past is a foreign country and we thread at our peril when we judge it by the best and the highest standards of today.