Kazi Fahim Ahmed || risingbd.com
Kazi Fahim Ahmed
A leader was born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England on November 30, 1874, who later dominated world politics during World War II and designed the post-war peace process by jointly initiating the establishment of the United Nations. He was, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, a British politician and statesman who served as the prime minister of Great Britain during 1940-1945 and 1951-1955 period.
He was perceived as a hero in Britain for building alliances with the United States and Soviet Union to overthrow Nazi Germany in World War II which later became a successful strategy.
He was able to inspire the British people not to surrender to Nazi Germany while other European countries had already surrendered to the might of Nazi Germany.
Unlike other eminent leaders of history, Churchill was a controversial one. He is reminisced as a national hero by his people for bringing off Britain from collapse and achieving victory in World War II.
British people also loved him because of his nationalist stance and words to bring off British imperialism. However, he is widely seen as a racist and warmonger in the former British colonies for his controversial comments and policies.
His unwavering vow to British colonialism resulted in his lack of respect for other races and cultures. He believed in white supremacy and according to him, “the British are the superior race”.
Churchill was born to an aristocratic family in England and his father “Lord Randolph Churchill” was also a statesman. Churchill’s career started as a military officer.
He served the British Army in the Indian northwest frontier and Sudan where he was successful to bring off the interest of the British Empire. He started his writing career when he was employed in the military.
Churchill wrote the military report to several newspapers and he also chose journalism as a profession when he left the army in 1899. He worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post which was a traditional daily.
Churchill’s political career started in 1900 when he became a member of the British Parliament. And from this, his uprising as a dominant politician continued. During his political career, he was successful to carry out “distinct affiliation” between the United States and the United Kingdom which also continues today.
He was famous for his powerful words about democracy, freedom, and war. During his visit to the United States in March 1946 as the opposition leader of the British Parliament, he made his famed “Iron Curtain” speech where he warned the US of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. It is believed that he was the most inspirational prime minister of Great Britain.
He had taken several substantial policies that were beneficial for the British people. He introduced a minimum wage system which was a groundbreaking one for the common people. He also reformed the prison system. His other big step was the proposed tax system upon the rich people to recompense for social welfare reforms. Though it was passed by the “House of Commons”, it was rejected by the “House of Lords”.
Churchill acknowledged several honours and medals during his lifetime. He received the knighthood by the Queen of Great Britain in 1953 and the similar year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his historical and biographical description of World War II where his brilliant rhetoric in defending dignified human values were widely extolled.
In Britain, his public acceptance is unquestionable. In a poll of 2002, he was voted as the greatest British ever, surpassing Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, and Queen Elizabeth I to the highest place.
As we know the famous quote, “Great men can commit great mistakes”, Churchill was on the same page of history. Churchill is seen as not less than a villain in the former colonies of the British Empire. We can also realize why his statue in London was defamed recently in the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to prominent Indian politician and historian Shashi Tharoor, “Churchill has the blood of millions on his hands whom the British prefer to forget”. History suggests Churchill’s strong imperialist moves were the main reason for his biased policies. When he was serving as a military officer in northwestern India, he ordered the Pashtuns to respect the British as “the superior race” and if anyone didn’t obey then he or she will be “killed without quarter”.
Former US President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama was imprisoned in Kenya without trial for two years and was tortured with other 150,000 men, women, and children under Churchill’s authority, to bring off the British Empire. For this reason, Barack Obama returned a bust of Churchill to the UK when he arrived in the white house as a president.
Historian also argues Churchill’s biased policy was the main reason behind the Bengal famine of 1943 where about 3 million people died. This allegation was denied by Churchill himself while he blamed the victims themselves by saying, the Indians “breeding like rabbits” and if it was true then, “Why Gandhi hasn’t died yet?”. He also believed the Indians were “a beastly people with a beastly religion” by which he indicated Hinduism and he also called the Indians a “foul race”.
His biased actions were also seen in his own country towards other races. When he was the secretary of state for war, he sent the ill-famed Black and Tans to repress the Irish independence movement in 1920. This notorious unit was accountable for brutal attacks on Irish civilians and vicious retaliation.
Churchill also supported other racist actions across the world. He believed that the Red Indians of America and the Aborigines of Australia were replaced by a stronger or higher race.
In conclusion, Winston Churchill is a renowned and cherished figure for his heroic leadership of the Allied power during World War II. He is still remembered as a national hero of Great Britain as he had always served the interest of British imperialism.
But the other parts of the world which were ruled by the British colonialists reminisced Winston Churchill as a racist imperialist who was responsible for the misery and horror of many oppressed people.
(Kazi Fahim Ahmed studies International Relations at the University of Dhaka)