SUNDAY Express columnist Nick Ferrari, commenting on the news that the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust is to ‘rebrand’ itself as the Churchill Fellowship, minus ‘Winston’, because of concerns about the wartime leader’s alleged racism, writes: ‘Brilliant. The hapless dolts in charge of this organisation have changed something meant to honour someone once voted the Greatest Briton of all time into something sounding like a fan club for a nodding dog in a TV insurance advert.’
Surely it can only be a matter of time before Churchill Insurance changes its name to something more in keeping with our woke times, perhaps ‘Diversity and Equality Awareness Insurance’.
The best insurance against this sort of nonsense is a well-rounded view of history (which our current education system does not encourage) against the modern belief that historical figures always acted in full knowledge of what had not yet happened, and if they did not know, then they should have.
Churchill was certainly not a racist, although he was an Imperialist. As Peter Mullen has written in TCW Defending Freedom, Churchill’s fellow Englishman, contemporary and anti-Imperialist G K Chesterton has been smeared as an anti-Semite. He is also condemned as a fascist and despite evidence to the contrary is now seen as a ‘sinner’ rather than a saint.
Although fascism has been associated with anti-Semitism, some Italian Jews were involved in the early fascist movement, and Churchill initially saw Mussolini as a counter-force to communism, whose crimes were very much not in the future, although pointedly ignored by British socialists. He met Mussolini in 1927, and Chesterton, who had earlier written: ‘If we were Italians, we should probably find ourselves supporting the Popular Party, which has become as much separated from the Fascists as from the Socialists’, also met Mussolini, although he assured his readers that he was not a British fascist. He could have become a fascist, but never did, while recognising that fascism was a reaction to the real threats of communism and unrestrained capitalism, as well as the kind of anti-patriotism and ‘one-worldism’ that is now making waves in Western nations.
In 1941 George Orwell wrote that the ‘main object of English Left-wing intellectuals’ for the past 20 years had been to destroy patriotism, and ‘if they had succeeded’ they might now be ‘watching the SS men patrolling the London streets’. Orwell maintained that Churchill had been more accurate regarding the threat of Bolshevism than the ‘one world’ socialist ‘prophet’ H G Wells, who had portrayed Churchill as a fascist while Wells himself equated ‘science with common sense.’ Germany, Orwell said, was ‘far more scientific than England’ but ‘more barbarous’. In fact: ‘Much of what Wells has imagined and worked for is physically there in Nazi Germany . . . Science is fighting on the side of superstition.’
Regarding the Nazi threat, both Churchill and Chesterton were true prophets: in July 1932 Winston Churchill warned Parliament about Hitler, while Chesterton issued a similar warning in June 1932, although he had been warning against the religion of race since 1908.
Chesterton’s poetry proved inspirational to those facing the fires of the Blitz and the threat of Nazi invasion:
The fires of the Great Army
That was made of iron men,
Whose lights of sacrilege and scorn
Ran around England red as morn,
Fires over Glastonbury Thorn —
Fires out on Ely Fen.
The British are a practical people whose very practicality sometimes leads us to forget or discard the secular saints who have helped to save our lives and sometimes our sanity, because we feel we no longer need them. Now we face the dangers of a communism that is no longer regarded as a danger, a seemingly all-powerful ‘woke’ capitalism, and the terrors of Islamism, grown even greater since the disorderly retreat from Afghanistan, but the even greater danger is of cultural amnesia. As Chesterton would say, paradoxically, we have never needed our secular saints so much, because it is when we think we do not need them that we need them the most.