Tag archives: Winston Churchhill

Congress Does Something Right! (And it’s bipartisan, too.)

by Robert Morrison

November 1, 2013

The bitter joke around the country these days is that, while President Obama’s approval ratings are the lowest they have been, Congress’ approval rating is lower than the Taliban’s. Well, there’s good reason for that. Most of us approve of what the House is doing and are angry at what the Senate is doing. Or, we love what the Senate is doing and loathe those crazy folks in the House. The key to all that loving/loathing is not what we think of Congress, per se, but what we think of our own representatives and senators.

But today, I want to salute Congress — both parties — for doing something right. They have just installed a bust of Winston Churchill. It was a special project of Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio). Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined in the praise at the ceremony.

And John Kerry, the longtime U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (D), is certainly right to point out that is may seem strange for the British Prime Minister to be so honored in the same Statuary Hall where our great revolutionary, Sam Adams, is honored. But, as Sec. of State Kerry says, it is right to do it. Sam Adams stood for liberty. He was willing to pledge to his fellow Signers of the Declaration of Independence his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.

Winston Churchill, before and during, and after World War II, pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to the cause of freedom. In 1938, he stood in the British House of Commons to warn his countrymen of the false dawn of hope represented by then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “historic” meeting with Hitler at Munich.

Churchill was then out of power and certainly out of favor with his party’s leaders. No one wanted to hear that “peace in our time” — as Chamberlain called his agreement with Hitler — was a mirage. “We were offered a choice of war or dishonor;” Churchill told a disbelieving parliament and people, “We have chosen dishonor and we will have war.”

In less than one year from the day he pronounced those grim words, Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany.

Churchill almost never went to church. When in 1940 an Anglican vicar greeted him at a national prayer service, he told Churchill the Prime Minister he would like to see him come back and to call him “a pillar of the Church.” Churchill, leaving early, lighted his cigar and told the vicar “you may call me a buttress of the Church; I support it, but from outside.”

Even so, Churchill knew his people. And he knew his American cousins. When he had had delivered that famous address in Commons on the Czech crisis of 1938, he used biblical language.

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week — I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:

Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

What strikes me about this passage — from the Book of Daniel Chapter 5 — is Churchill’s generosity toward his errant fellow citizens. He clearly loves the British people—even though he thinks they are wrong to cheer Chamberlain’s dishonorable sellout.

This is an important lesson for us today. We have always thought ObamaCare was wrong. We have always opposed it. And yet, the American people twice have chosen Barack Obama to lead them. We must not now be found to be exulting in the misery of millions who voted for this president and who have been so cruelly deceived.

But they should know the truth.

Churchill did not always say the popular thing, but he said the necessary truth. And he said it with Christian charity — even when he may not have shared his countrymen’s Christian faith.

It will be vitally important for us and the causes we champion not to engage in that ignoble exercise known as schadenfreude. That German word means “taking enjoyment from the sorrows of others.”

Millions of our fellow citizens are suffering from the shock and disappointment of the “debacle” of the ObamaCare rollout. Many of them voted for this administration and for its supporters in Congress. We can take no joy from their distress.

Churchill was able to unite his country and lead it against the most monstrous tyranny the world had known — Hitler and his Nazis — because he never said “I told you so.” Everyone knew he had told them so.

When some young supporters wanted to drive out of public life the “guilty men” who had appeased Hitler and allowed him to grow strong, Churchill said no. “If we open up a quarrel between yesterday and today, we shall lose tomorrow,” he wisely said.

Thus, some of the worst appeasers of the 1930s became staunch warriors against Hitler and Nazidom in the 1940s.

Even today, when this administration is failing so clearly at home, and when its policy of appeasement is so evidently collapsing abroad, Churchill offers us wisdom we can apply in our own time. 

Winston Churchill: A Life of Potential—November 30, 1874

by Robert Morrison

November 30, 2012

Winston Churchill may have lived the most documented life in history. I say that only because he made sure his every letter, speech, book, article, and even casual remarks were recorded for posterity.

We are his posterity. “Study history,” he said to young college students who asked him for advice. He made a lot of the history of the twentieth century. He told one opponent in Parliament that history would be kind to him. “I intend to write it myself,” he said with a mischievous twinkle. He very nearly did.

The outpouring of words from Winston Churchill is truly staggering. I’m catching up now on “Frontiers and Wars,” which is an abridgment of several of his books about his early years as a soldier of Queen Victoria. He took part in military campaigns along the Afghan frontier. He fought an earlier version of the Taliban. Then, he was a cavalry officer fighting against the Dervishes in the Sudan. He became rather knowledgeable about the Islamic world, more so than most British people of his day.

When President Obama threw the bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office, he might nonetheless have profitably read some of what Winston had to say about dealing with Islam. Our new President bowed low before Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. He abased himself (and us) before this persecutor of Christians and Jews.

Mr. Obama went to Turkey and Egypt in 2009. He placed great stock in the so-called Arab Spring. Even now, Mr. Obama is giving nearly $500 million of our money to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and $1.5 billion to the Egyptian rulers who owe their first allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood.

We are borrowing money from China to give to people who hate us, who want to destroy us. Does this make sense? Winston Churchill never won the Nobel Peace Prize, as President Obama did. He had to console himself with the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Still, when Winston saw the Arab Spring of his day—mass riots in the streets—he did not think they were on the road to democracy.

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.

Sudan. Afghanistan. Egypt. Libya. Syria. Lebanon.

The Obama administration has been criticizing Israel for years. Whenever they build another apartment house in Jerusalem, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton or Vice President Biden chimes in. They actually count the Jews in Jerusalem and note that it’s “not helpful” to the Mideast Peace Process. Whatever that is.

Churchill had this advice: “Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous.”

Churchill was the first British statesman to recognize the menace of Hitler and Nazism. He knew Hitler was evil because Hitler hated the Jews and blamed them for all of Germany’s troubles.

Churchill was in Munich just before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933. He was at a dinner party in a grand hotel there (Churchill never stayed in any but grand hotels). Hitler’s court jester, the Harvard-educated “Putzi” Hanfstaengl tried to arrange a meeting between the two. Churchill told Putzi to tell his master that “Anti-Semitism may be a good starter [in politics], but it’s a bad sticker.”

Hearing of this, Hitler spitefully refused to come down to meet Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer. “He’s all washed up in English politics,” Hitler says in one dramatization of their almost meeting. A lot of people in England thought so, too.

Watch the delegates at last summer’s national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Watch them BOO! as the convention chairman gavels through a platform plank that concedes none-too-gracefully that Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel. Anti-Semitism—a good starter, but a bad sticker.

President Obama’s top intelligence officer, James Clapper, thinks the Muslim Brotherhood that is now rising to power throughout the Arab world is a “secular” organization. It would be nice if our intelligence chiefs had some, well, intelligence.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) dates from 1928, the same era that gave us the Nazi party in Germany. The MB rejected Hitler’s Aryan supremacy, not surprisingly. Not all that many Muslims are blond with blue eyes. And they rejected Hitler’s pagan ideology.

But they liked and learned from the Fuhrer’s use of violence to get power. Hitler always used the threat of street riots and broken heads to get his way in a weak parliamentary democracy like Germany’s Weimar Republic. The MB liked that and have copied Hitler’s tactics everywhere.

The MB also loved Hitler’s judenhass—his Jew hatred. They still do.

In Churchill’s Britain of the 1930s, there were many English businessmen who wanted to appease Hitler, and to profit from his regime. In the U.S. then, there were men like Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, father of the president and Sen. Robert Kennedy. Amb. Kennedy cheerfully described himself as an “appeaser” of Hitler.

In Egypt today, the MB blames all the troubles of that plundered land on the Jews. And the Obama administration—led by Hillary Clinton—actually thinks Mohamed Morsi is trying to help when he crafts a cease fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Everyone knows that Hamas is only standing down for a few days or weeks or months until they can launch an even more harmful rocket attack on Israeli villages.

Everyone knows this except, of course, the Obama administration.

Churchill also knew something about Russians. He called Russia “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” One thing we know that Churchill understood about Russia. They respect strength and despise weakness.

When President Obama’s voice was picked up on a mic telling Vladimir Putin’s puppet Dmitri Medvedev he would be “more flexible” after he was re-elected, he broadcast to the Kremlin’s new vozhd (boss) his weakness. Even worse, he broadcast our weakness to the world.

In Moscow during World War II, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin brutally insulted Prime Minister Churchill and the valiant British armed forces. “You wouldn’t be so afraid of the Germans if you fought them more,” the crude tyrant said. Outraged, Churchill went back to the British Embassy.

He loudly denounced the Soviet tyrant. Warned by a high embassy official the room was bugged and Stalin was doubtless getting transcripts of everything the Prime Minister said, Churchill raised his voice still louder. He dictated a cable to London, to the War Cabinet. He said if this kind of thing was repeated, he would leave Moscow in the morning. Come what may.

In danger of losing British and American war supplies, Stalin’s behavior changed overnight. Literally overnight. Confronted with Churchill’s courage and steadfastness, Stalin backed down.

Does anyone want to bet how much Vladimir Putin will appreciate Barack Obama’s “flexibility”? Does anyone think Putin will now help Obama push Syria’s dictator Assad out the door? Or stop helping Iran’s mullahs evade economic sanctions. Mr. Obama will be amazed at how his flexibility will be interpreted in Moscow as a lack of resolve.

When one of his young secretaries stood on top of Number 10 Downing Street with him during the Blitz, he asked her if she was afraid. Bombs fell all around them. London was going up in flames, but she said: “No, it is not possible to be afraid around you, sir.”

That 1965 London funeral for Winston Churchill was called by the British Government Operation Hope Not. That’s an odd name for what comes to every mortal man. It was England’s greatest writer, Shakespeare, after all who taught us: “Cowards die a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once.”

It’s that kind of courage we need now. It’s that Churchillian call to be men and women of valour. That’s why it’s good to remember him on his birthday. And it’s good to realize how every potential human life has vast potential for good.

May 10, 1940: Churchill becomes Warlord

by Robert Morrison

May 10, 2012

No American had a voice in the decisions made in London this day in 1940. It was an entirely British matter. But President Roosevelt had said this generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. For millions of us, our destiny would be entwined with the decisions made across an ocean on May 10, 1940.

My own parents would likely never have met had the U.S. not been drawn into World War II. Thats true for tens of millions of us. And drawing America into that war was the Number One objective of the man who became Prime Minister this day in 1940. No one ever studied the whims of his mistress more carefully than I studied Franklin Roosevelt, Churchill would say. Thats an odd way of putting it for this man who was famously faithful to his beloved and brilliant wife, Clementine. She was taller than he was, too. Thats usually a sign of a secure ego.

Carlo DEstes book, Warlord, is a biography of Winston Churchill at war. He was at war, too, it seems from the day he graduated from Sandhurst, Englands military academy. He saw action on the Afghan frontier with the British army in India. He fought in the last great cavalry charge at Omdurman in the Sudan. Then, he was fighting against militant Muslims. He killed many of them. And some of them tried to kill him. Nothing is as exhilarating as to be shot at without result, he said of his experience there. Young Winston was just a lowly lieutenant in Lord Kitcheners army fighting the Dervishes. Those fanatical warriors followed a Muslim holy man they called the Mahdithe Expected One. When the Mahdi died and Lord Kitchener allowed his grave to be desecrated, young Winston protested loudly. He was courageous, not only against Britains enemies, but courageous on the home front, as well. When he was captured during the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, everyone on both sides testified to his fearlessness. Churchill as POW could not be restrained, however. He hated being confined in any way. DEste relates the controversy over Churchills escape from the Boers. Did he abandon his fellow POWs? Or did he jump at the chance to escape while they held back? Its not entirely clear.

What is clear is that he took advantage of a trip to the latrine to squeeze his then-slender frame through a hole in the wall. As they would say of him, Winston stepped out of the loo and into history.

And what a step! Once, at a large London dinner party, he annoyed his bosss daughter by dominating table conversation. Violet Bonham Carters father was Prime Minister H.H. Asquith at the time. Mr. Churchill, dont you know we are supposed to be humble? Winston wasnt having any of that. I know we are all worms, he said (he knew his Psalms), but I do believe I am a glowworm.

Glow he did. Several years ago, I told the interns at Family Research Council that Winston Churchills life may have been the best documented human life ever lived. Trip Dyer, one of the brightest our Witherspoon Fellows, challenged me.

Trip said he thought the current Prince Williams life may be more documented. I took his point. We do live in a Twitter Age.

And one thing you learn from DEstes Warlord book is that Churchill did not mind being contradicted. But youd better be able to maintain your point with facts and arguments. I still maintain that Churchills life is the best documented human life ever lived because we know so much of what Churchill thought about everything because he wrote everything down. Its hard to imagine that he had any thought that he did not write. And thats not the case with Prince William.

My own wife is taller than I am. (That, I promise, is the end of Churchill comparisons.) She could not believe I needed yet another Churchill book. After dropping me off at the Naval Academy recently, she called me on her cell phone. A police officer at Annapolis City Dock had stopped her. You know that thumping sound I told you about, she said. The policeman showed me that your Warlord book was rattling around on the roof of our SUV. Everything youve ever heard about the absent-minded history prof is true, Im sorry to say.

But I have not forgotten this: President Obama tossed the bust of Winston Churchill out of the White House into the snow. He spurns the advice and counsel of the great British war leader. Too bad.

Theres a lot to learn from Churchill. A key lesson has to do with Jerusalem. Mr. Obamas cringing spokespeople cannot decide whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel or not. They have no trouble telling you that Berlin is the capital of Germany. But somehow, the Obama administration is confused about Israels capital city. Churchill had the answer to that one, too: Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous.