Churchill was admired and became famous for holding his country together and urging his forces to fight the Nazi juggernaut. He is a British hero and was a magnificent leader. He often tops the list of most admired people in Britain. The reality of the man is much more nuanced. He was also a racist who did not attempt to sugarcoat his racist views or pretend he was misunderstood. He was an honest racist. He disliked the brown hordes that Britain ruled and expressed his beliefs openly dispelling any doubts about his views.
Churchill was opposed to independence for India while also saying, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” He viewed Palestinians as “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.” He wanted Britain to intervene in and partition China saying “ I think we have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them.The Aryan stock is bound to triumph”. Some years later Hitler was spouting notions of Aryan superiority. The fact that original Aryans migrated to India from Central Asia thousands of years ago was not acknowledged by both these bigots.
Churchill was indifferent to the 1943 Bengal famine that was caused by British mercantile policies over years and the wartime shortages. He viewed the famine as “culling the population” of a people who were “breeding like rabbits”. He reportedly asked how, if the shortages were so bad, Mahatma Gandhi was still alive. The famine killed 3 million people while the War Cabinet under Churchill did little to provide support instead diverting more resources from India to fight a foreign war. He did not see any contradiction between fighting fascism in Europe to implementing it enthusiastically in India.
Although numerous books extol his greatness and several movies have shown his leadership skills during the second world war his known racism and abject treatment of the populations of the empire is rarely presented. History has largely forgotten his faults and only lauds the heroic side of his complex character.
Obama replaced Churchill’s bust in the Oval office with that of Martin Luther King. Unsurprisingly the bust of Churchill is back in the Oval.