For those appalled and horrified by the desecration of some of our statues on the basis it’s ‘deleting history’ my question is real. How accurate do we think the history we are taught is? How many of these statues actually contributed to an increased and honest understanding of our country’s history? For example:
I remember learning about Winston Churchill, and I remember being taught about how vital his leadership was throughout WW2. I could elaborate but the point is clear. I believed that Winston Churchill was a hero, who saved us all from Hitler, and that was pretty much the end of that story.
What I don’t remember (and seemingly nor does Boris) is being taught about his views clearly illustrated below:
“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
He didn’t like the Palestinians much either, but presumably that was mainly their fault for being “barbaric hoards who ate little but camel dung,”
Another good one: “I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
This post is not even a diatribe against Churchill. It is however something of a diatribe about why our collective ego is so important that we will not acknowledge that there have been and are now, times when the British weren’t the good guys. This is so obvious that it seems laughable, but why then, is there so much resistance to demands that we evaluate the history we are teaching?
In 2018, Michael Taube wrote for the Washington Post: “Should we ignore history, or attempt to rewrite it, because a small number of individuals are having an exceedingly hard time dealing with historical figures whom most of us have long since moved past?”
Of course we shouldn’t, but as increasingly insight about individuals like Churchill become more widely known, it’s starting to seem that those having ‘an exceedingly hard time dealing with historical figures’ are not those that seek an honest account of our history. It is instead the people who are so desperate to preserve an idealised and sanitised version of ‘Great Britain’ and its history, that they will go to almost any lengths to prevent any deviation from that narrative.
Sources and Further Reference: