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Winston Churchill Being On The £5 Note Is An Insult To British Values

13/09/2016 12:32
AFP via Getty Images

On this day, 13 September 2016, thousands of patriots finally get what they've been waiting for - the Bank Of England has paid tribute to Winston Churchill by putting his iconic portrait on the £5 note.

And why not? He's the man who won us the Second World War. He took a stand against fascism by bringing down Nazi Germany. He pioneered a lot of social reforms. He committed his life to public service.

Well, here's the thing. Even with such an incredible achievement under his belt, he's still not worthy of immortalisation on our currency. The fact his face is emblazoned on our money is an insult to Britain, and this ongoing iconisation of him as an ideal prime minister is, quite frankly, disgusting.

winston churchill undated

Sure, Churchill won a war, but that's not what the only thing he should be remembered for

I'm not just saying this to be controversial. Here's a good few reasons we should condemn Churchill's memory to the history books and leave it there.

1. He was in favour of genocide and seemed a little bit racist

Yeah, in 1937 he basically said he doesn't think the murder of countless Native Americans or Australian aboriginals was a bad thing because "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 was said in a statement to the Peel Commission on Palestine. He used it as an argument in favour of increased Jewish migration into the area because Arabs weren't good enough to grow food there. By his logic, white Jews were better off living on the land because they could farm better.

His views on other ethnic groups were clear to many and made obvious throughout his career. During his time in the War Ministry in 1919 he said he was "strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes". He said Palestinians were "barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung". He referred to the people of the Sudan as "savages", and spent his time in parliament calling for an increased push to colonise more of the world because "the Aryan stock is bound to triumph."

This attitude towards other races, although commonplace at the time, is deplorable.

2. He let at least three million people in India die of starvation to stockpile food for Europeans to eat when the war was over

India was still under British rule in 1943, and while Churchill focused on the war effort many people in Bengal were starving.

According to 'Churchill's Secret War', the prime minister ignored the famine and laid down orders for 170,000 tons of Australian wheat to pass through India so it could be stockpiled to feed Europeans after the war ended. In addition to this, India was forced to export rice to fuel the war rather than feeding its own people.

Madhusree Muskerjee, the author of 'Churchill's Secret War', also quotes him as saying: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."

It's also reported that he partially blamed the Indian people for their own starvation, because they "breed like rabbits."

In his private diaries, even Churchill's own Secretary of State for India said he was unable to "see much difference between Churchill's outlook and Hitler's."

3. His actions as an MP would be really, really bad nowadays

According to Martin Gilbert's biography of him, Churchill accepted £5,000 from two oil companies to represent them when they applied to the government about a merger in 1923.

Parliamentary ethics may have been thought of differently in those days, but it's still not something we should be looking up to.

4. He openly called for the sterilisation of people with mental illnesses

As Home Secretary, Churchill not only suggested barring people with learning disabilities and mental illnesses from getting married, he also called for them to be sterilised and said "mental defectives" should be put in concentration camps.

In a time when we knew very little about mental disorders, this could seem quite normal - except his reasoning was even more abhorrent. He suggested doing all these deplorable things because "the multiplication of the feeble-minded is a very terrible danger to the race."

5. He *might* have committed some war crimes

During the Second World War, bombing of cities was fairly commonplace on both sides, but the RAF's attacks on Nazi-held cities have been condemned due to the high numbers of civilian casualties, something we rarely think about on the other side.

We know a lot about how plucky Brits survived the Blitz, but we were also bombing cities in Europe where many civilians were also struggling to survive.

According to historian Richard Overy, Churchill was the one who pioneered the idea of strategically bombing cities when previously it had been ethically off limits.

Some historians, such as Jörg Friedrich and Günter Grass, have even dubbed some of Churchill's bombing campaigns as "war crimes," and claim certain bombings were carried out on small towns that barely held any strategic importance.

According to Friedrich, 635,000 civilians - 75,000 of them children - were killed by Britain's bombing campaign during World War II.

When looking at these things from a different perspective, everyone's favourite bulldog-like British prime minister seems a bit less of a hero and a bit more of a ruthless warmonger.

Churchill is famed for saying history would judge him kindly because he intended to write it himself. It seems he was right.

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