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Was Churchill an Islamophobic racist who should be stripped of his honours?

(I wrote this two days ago, so you may have seen the story in the press by now)

The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan is an 1899 book by Winston Churchill, concerning his experiences as a British Army officer, during the Mahdist War in Sudan.

In the first (2-volume) edition of the book, Churchill reportedly wrote:

“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. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

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. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. 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 civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

Given that Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace, that Britain’s Muslim population have provided huge multicultural enrichment to our country and that Muslims are currently massively improving educational standards in many schools in Birmingham, Leicester and other major cities, it’s clear that Churchill’s description of Islam must be totally inaccurate.

What should we do? Dismiss Churchill’s words as just reflective of the ignorance at that time? Or should the great and the good, who seek to control national opinion, demand that Churchill be classed as a racist and bigot and be stripped of all his honours?

I am very confused by this and hope the BBC will soon tell me what to think.

The reason this story hit the news is that someone called Paul Weston, from a fringe political party, was arrested and charged when he chose to read this out through a megaphone while campaigning in the EU elections. This was probably slightly provocative by Mr Weston. But in our obsession with political correctness, sadly we seem to have forgotten the famous quote commonly attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“.

4 comments to Was Churchill an Islamophobic racist who should be stripped of his honours?

  • Paris Claims

    The Mail and the Telegraph eventually covered the story, but no comments were allowed.

  • right_writes

    “What should we do?”

    It depends on what mix of punter your “we” includes David…

    If your “we” is the political classes, they won’t have much problem referring to Churchill as a waycist, warmonger…

    It’s been done before.

  • MGJ

    I suspect if you published this article on, say, the BBC website you’d gain an army of new admirers, having failed to spot any irony in what you say. Just think, you could become a hero among those who believe that there is no part of our history or culture that we should not be ashamed of.

    A good reminder of just how good a prose writer Churchill was too.

  • Brillo

    We are frankly sleep walking into a civil war in this country and Europe. The schools in Birmingham have highlighted a massive problem. We were told that second generation immigrants would assimilate into our society and yet the reality is the opposite, the young are becoming ever more radical. Very scary. We should give them a choice give up their religion or go elsewhere. Simples

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