This article was first published one year ago today but it is a message that bears repeating. Churchill was not perfect, but he was a role model for us today in so many ways. While we needed his type of leadership and courage one year ago, today we are more desperate than ever for it. Who would have thought four years ago, that things would get worse, that our leadership would be so lacking in the necessary courage and tenacity to think big, bold and to be uncompromising in the face of tyranny. We need another Churchill, we need someone who will not only give us fine words but will live by them. But we also need men and women who willing to do battle on all fronts on behalf of liberty. Will you join the battle? Or will you instead invest your time and energies in trivial pursuits?
can one man do you ask? Ask that of Lech Walesa. Ask that of Ronald Reagan. Ask
that of Churchill.
In 1941 (and remember the war began for the British in 1939) Churchill spoke these words at Harrow School:
Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
NEVER GIVE UP – NEVER SURRENDER
Winston Churchill, American’s Favorite Son
Today we celebrate the birth, November 30, 1874, of Winston Churchill (d.1965), America’s favorite son. His English father and connections, along with his own personal abilities and ambition, made it possible for him to become the Prime Minister of Great Britain in her darkest hour.
According to the law of the day, he could not inherit his American mother’s citizenship. Instead, thanks to his own achievements, he was the first person to ever become an honorary citizen of the United States. President Kennedy, upon confirming American citizenship on Churchill, said:
We meet to honor a man whose honor requires no meeting - for he is the most honored and honorable man to walk the stage of human history in the time in which we live. Whenever and wherever tyranny threatened, he has always championed liberty. Facing firmly toward the future, he has never forgotten the past.
Churchill well understood the value of history and tradition, as he told the House of Commons in 1944, “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation; indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril, but the new view must come, the world must roll forward ... Let us have no fear of the future.” He also, at one point, advised his listeners to “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.”
Churchill understood two things, that “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see,” and that “Our past is the key to our future, which I firmly trust and believe will be no less fertile and glorious.” He knew history, he made history, and he was a historian; hence he, more than most, was able to see into the future, and in the 1930s he recognized the dangers emanating from Germany and the potential of war, while his political opponents chose to ignore this possibility. Or, as he so eloquently put it when addressing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the House of Commons after the 1938 Munich Accords, “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.”
It was only many years after the war that his definition of an appeaser as “one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last” was coined. No doubt he had Chamberlain in mind when he said it. Many of his best known sayings were similar to this one, short and focused on principles that are as invaluable in private life as they are in the political arena. Below is a brief selection:
* Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
* The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.
* A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
* It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.
In a shocking display of ingratitude, the British voters rejected Churchill after he had so successfully led them fearlessly through war. In part, this was a result of sheer fatigue, after so many years of war (for the British it began in 1939 and only ended in 1945). Churchill’s electoral defeat was in part a result of the siren song of the Labour Party’s promises – promises that handcuffed the British economy from the end of the war until today, with only a measure of relief coming in the 1980s; promises that Churchill understood and clearly recognized as detrimental. His insights into the forms of government, the economy, and law were accurate and to the point:*
* Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
* The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
* Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.
* Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
* If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
* There is no such thing as a good tax.
Will the shutting out of foreign goods increase the total amount of wealth in
this country? Can foreign nations grow rich at our expense by selling us goods
under cost price? Can a people tax themselves into prosperity? Can a man stand
in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle?
Churchill frequently spoke on the subjects of liberty, freedom, and tyranny (he was, after all, a wartime president). In fact he seems to have had an opinion on almost everything, including some of his allies (France and America), and in particular America and the Americans of whom he said that:
* You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
* I want no criticism of America at my table. The Americans criticize themselves more than enough.
He would have understood many of the issues we face today, including the clash between the West and the Islamic world, and he did not hesitate to voice his observations about Islam. Churchill had observed it first hand, and wrote about it in his 1899 book, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. . . . The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. . . No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Winston Churchill was a man ahead of his times, a man much needed in our time, a man who wrote and spoke much about tyranny. He understood, “Tyranny is our foe whatever trappings or disguise it wears, whatever language it speaks, be it external or internal, we must forever be on our guard, ever mobilized, ever vigilant, always ready to spring at its throat.” These words were as relevant then as they are today.
Happy Birthday Winston Churchill.
The author would like to thank Stanley Zir, of www.neveragainisnow.net, for his encouragement in writing this article.