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How much do you know about him though?
I think he certainly was a hero, but no one person is that simplY defined. Do you acknowledge the incidents I’ve mentioned? I feel you’re ignoring them: you make it sound like you’re refusing to learn about him in case it changes your opinion, which is the opposite of what we’ve been talking about with this Fawlty Towers stuff. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood.
It’s important to learn about these things and not just accept what the plaque on a statue says as being the truth.
The whole conversation has been about keeping Fawlty Towers up so we can learn from it, so why not learn more about Churchill too? I genuinely don’t see what’s patronising about that question: it’s a genuine one.
How about all the people scrawling racist on these statues. It doesn't matter if the statue is dedicated to someone (no one in particular) who achieved something notable, if they had negative racial views, then they're judged on that. I see people on the news saying "We need to have a conversation on race." You can't have a conversation with people who are screaming over the top of your voice.
But I’m not aware of anyone judging him ‘solely’ on that. He was a racist, even for his time (check the quote I gave for one example), even if he wasn’t into acting on those prejudices. And that’s what these people were pointing out. It wasn’t a discussion about whether, on balance, he was a great man or a bad man; it was an observation that he was a racist. Which he was.
If we want to learn from history, that’s something to learn. I’d say he was a great man, but he also had sides to him I respect less.
And that’s where the right who have hijacked this discussion have taken the narrative: people think they’re ‘screaming’ and can’t be talked to sensibly. Black peoples’ grievances and voices have been delegitimised by the way this narrative about statues and sitcoms has steered it.
If anything that’s why I disagree very much with the person who graffitied that statue: they’ve given the right wing ammunition to paint them as not having a legitimate point to make.
There was a chap on GMB last week whose only concern was that the statues had to come down, because the persons attitude on race. Didn't matter what the acomplishments were of the person, of whom the statue was errected in favour of, they were racist, so down they come.
While the right are thugs, they aren't the only thugs out there right now. There are plenty of thugs on the left. But they get away with their thuggery, becuase they can hide behind "peaceful protesting".
The fact that Churchill held racist views is hardly a secret, except perhaps to the very young or badly educated. To scrawl "racist" on his statue is to argue that his role in saving Britain is less important than his racial views. That is either stupidity or (more likely) emotional hysteria.
We call great people great because they accomplished great things, not because we think they're spotless human beings. Churchill's personal flaws do not come close to outweighing his achievements as Prime Minister. The statue of a confederate general deserves to be pulled down, because their "achievements" consisted of fighting a treasonous war in defense of slavery. Churchill's statue should stay up and unblemished until Britain is no longer a free country.
The problem with activism of any kind is that it often begins with the best possible intentions but inevitably resorts to a tribalist mentality. Its fiercest members define the game and a set of rules is established to separate "us" from "them". Anyone who doesn't entirely agree with those rules will quickly find himself an outsider; internal bickering ensues and splinter factions are formed. The original mission statement gets lost amidst group politics and propagandistic tactics. The group itself becomes more important than the moral principles, ethics and goals on which it was originally based. What's "right" and what's "wrong" is quickly simplified to a cold, strict and binary consideration. Pro-somethings often turn into anti-manythings. The quest for a positive becomes a systematic elimination of random negatives.
Feminism, for example, originated from a social necessity but has since branched off into many forms, some of which so radical that any man, through action or inaction, is seen by some as an incurable, vile creature, no matter what his intentions. So too has pro-equality in many circles become a pile-up of don'ts. Don't use this word. Don't use the word you chose next. And don't use the next word either. In fact, don't mention, don't distinguish, don't define. Better still, don't even stress the difference between so and so, as if it no longer exists, even in a purely theoretical sense. Don't talk, whisper or look "that way". Don't show this or that in your movie, but then don't not show it either. There's no black and white, there's only people. There's no him or her, there's only "they". There's no he or she, there's only we.
After a while, things just stop making sense. Outrageous demands replace an honest cry for justice. A solid case is buried underneath arbitrary attacks and outbursts of anger. In fact, peaceful protest is always but one poor excuse away from "justified" violence. And while it's usually but a minor faction that actually goes there, the tribalist nature of any activist group provides easy incentives. Needless to say that many of our freedoms have resulted from uprisings, insurrections and violent protests. I always cherish some hope that good things will come from such chaos; that the spitting, fighting and looting can at least be endured if not forgiven because of a positive outcome. After all, change cannot happen unless lines are crossed. But the more damage done to people who have very few dogs in this fight or who are sympathetic to the cause but powerless to act, the fewer fruits the chaos will bear. Instead, if I may coin a phrase, one merely ends up feeding the hand that seeks to bite you. If the lootings, property destructions and thugging continue a little while longer, those who condemn it and have no intention to yield will also have a pretty easy time convincing their voters that certain people are indeed the savages and madmen some still think they are. The opposite of what activists want will then be achieved. What people will remember is not the terrible crime that caused all of this, but the images of shattered store windows, smoke bombs, hooded aggressors, besmirched monuments--as well as certain decisions patronizingly made by TV stations. Many sympathisers will either lose interest or turn against the activists out of sheer disgust. And once again, as with every "war", it won't be a matter of who's right, only of who--or what--is left.
I'm sure we can find individuals asking for all sorts of things, whether there's an actual movement or supported campaign is the issue really. You could probably find one person asking for a statue to be erected to Mosley if you look hard enough.
So because of a few we shouldn't listen to the grievances of the many? No, I don't agree with that at all. And that doesn't apply to those far right 'protests' either: I've seen nothing to suggest they weren't all thugs.
Should we listen to folks telling us that racism needs to go or not?
That's not an irony: that's what he fought for. It's no more ironic than him getting voted out of office the minute the war was over: that's democracy. He was happy and willing to be judged by the nation.
Or could it be that there have been multiple peaceful protests continuing, both across the US and the UK- even at the same time as this horrible far right riot; but they don't make the news because of the distraction pieces going on elsewhere?
What an irony to find an Englishman who doesn't understand irony. I think it's certainly ironic that quite a few of the people who defaced Churchill's statue or approved of it wouldn't be living in the UK if not for him. Their unthinking demonization of a man they actually owe much to is ironic. Yes, Churchill fought for democracy and Britain--but do the people who think of him only as a racist understand that or understand what they owe to him?
The UK doesn't vote for Prime Ministers though. After the war the electorate decided that Labour would do a better job governing the country. Had the UK an American system (not that I'm recommending it), Labour could have taken parliament and Churchill could have remained in power. And in any case, Churchill returned to power after Labour anyway!
You don't think there are signs of a systemic problem in the US police force?
Don't do that please. We're not descending to the level of personal abuse. You're trying to start an argument.
That's not irony, no: it's the exact system he fought for. Something isn't ironic if it's actually part of the system. People have a right to criticise their leaders and their past leaders in this country.
Thinking that Churchill should never be criticised would be ironic, because that's the sort of thinking he battled against.
Also, accusing people of 'unthinking demonisation' is another form of irony, because you're demonising these protestors, and helping to take away their voices, by doing so. There's very little that's unthinking about this movement. You're been distracted by the statues thing which means they've taken your attention away from the actual issue.
Semantics. It has nothing to do with my point of Churchill being fully aware of the system whereby its leadership is answerable to its population. He understood that he and his party could be voted out Government.
I meant to say that the people who criticize the BLM movement as a whole, aren’t fairly applying their logic to both sides.
And what do you think you've been engaging in?
No one has ever said people don't have the right to criticize their leaders. But there is irony in someone demonizing (not simply criticizing) a leader they don't realize they have much to be grateful to, starting with their very presence in the country he saved. The irony is in the lack of thought of the person who made the attack, not in the fact that the system allows it.
It would also be silly position no one actually subscribes to.
You're engaging in emotional blackmail. Saying someone is engaged in demonization doesn't demonize that person. It criticizes their speech tactics. And no one's voice has been taken away. The person who defaced that statue spoke far more loudly than I do on a message board. And my comments were directed at a very small portion of the protesters.
I doubt the differences between the British and American systems of government fall under semantics.
Also true. But statues are much more important. ;)
I'm having a conversation. If you want to get personal then I'm not interested.
So there's nothing to talk about then. They're perfectly free to do so. He was a racist even by the standards of his times, they're not wrong to say so.
It does actually, it delegitimises their concerns. It belittles them: describing these people engaged in a very serious campaign to bring about change as 'unthinking' absolutely demonises them. Otherwise why are we still talking about statues as if that's the important thing here?
Dismissing it as emotional blackmail is another way of trying to take their voice away. The whole point is that we're all supposed to be thinking about our own actions and thought processes. Concentrating on statues and calling protestors 'unthinking' is exactly the opposite of that.
Semantics. You even had to edit out the bit where I explained how it was irrelevant to my point. The American system of voting has nothing to do with Churchill's understanding of how he was answerable to the population apart from some attempt to score a point. Well, if it makes you happy: yes, the Americans and the UK have different types of voting systems. They also have signs that say 'Don't Walk' whereas ours have a little picture of red man on our road crossings. About as equally pertinent to the discussion.
Ah gotcha. Sorry @NickTwentyTwo
Many policemen are good people, do what they can without ever drawing their gun or getting brutal. @NickTwentyTwo's post raises an interesting point.
He said there are signs of a systemic problem in the US police force, yes: I agree with him.
Maybe a clearer way to put my original point:
The Black Lives Matter movement is being judged, as a whole, on it's lowest common denominator (violent protestors), by certain people.
The polices force which they're protesting, are not being judged on their lowest common denominator (cold blooded murderers) by that same group of people.
The point being: if you're (and I'm not saying you, @mtm, just generally) going to de-legitimize the BLM movement based on the violent protestors, then by that logic, shouldn't you also be de-legitimizing the police based on their lowest-common denominators as well? Why are you holding them to different standards? In fact, why are you giving stricter standards to the protesters, than to the police force, who are supposed to be trained to serve and protect, and serve the public?
Yes indeed, and the police absolutely should be judged on their worst because there's surely supposed to be some sort of minimum standard? And there seem to be an awful lot of terrible ones.
They kill over a thousand people a year, you know.
You have a funny way of showing it. I am the third person in this thread to remark on your tone in arguing.
No one said they weren't. But free speech can involve irony, believe it or not, especially if the speech is badly thought out.
You're just doubling down on the emotional blackmail. You are acting as if my words apply to all the protesters, when I've made it clear in my previous posts that I'm talking about the few who defaced the statue and actively approved of it. You act as if criticizing a small sector of the protesters was equivalent to criticizing all of them. That is moral absolutism. The serious concern of most of the protesters--police brutality and racism--isn't seriously advanced by spitefully defacing Churchill's statue. There's nothing wrong with noting that. If we're free to criticize our leaders, we're free to criticize citizens too.
The point is that under an American system of voting, Churchill could have stayed in power but under a Labour legislature. In such a system, a leader is directly answerable to the voters in the way that he isn't under the British system, where voters express party preference first.
Thank you so much for putting some much needed nuance into this topic! And I have to say I think you have been met with an unnecessary amount of hostility and resentment for doing so.
@DarthDimi - You put that much more eloquently than I ever could. I feel ashamed to respond with such a short post, but bravo sir.
I don't think of myself as sitting on either side of the left/right divide, my views possibly skirt lightly on either side.
I don't identify with "left" or "right" either. Those are tremendously outdated concepts anyway. The world has become far too complicated for such a binary choice. There's also the risk of the tribalist mentality I spoke of. When someone has finally decided they belong to, say, the right, rather than contemplate every political issue individually, it's a lot easier to simply "follow the leader" and say whatever he says.
That said, I am still trying to find any logic in what's going on with J.K. Rowling right now, another example of people losing their grip on reality. What a few individuals call "someone who menstruates", Rowling correctly calls "a woman". What all the backlash is about, especially from actors whose blossoming careers have her to thank for, is beyond me. The search for equality has long gone when we're having a vocabulary debate about "someone who menstruates" vs "woman"; and when people actually demand public apologies from someone who calls a woman a woman. This is just ludicrous.
Another thing people often forget is that in this day and age of social media everything, one's "status" on the Internet has for some become the most important thing in life. We're living in a "like" or "F5" culture; the endorphins that leak into our brains with every positive comment you receive online are as addictive as heroin. There are those who will deconstruct and analyse every little tweet a celebrity drops, hoping to be the "first" who can expose some unacceptable comment, inference or choice of words. Why? Not because this will help us create a better world, but because being the first to drag a celeb to the slaughterhouse in the name of social justice will earn bonus points, like completing that really challenging side mission in an online video game.
Again, I return to my point about good intentions being lost along the way, about when a crusade becomes a goal rather than a means. Stepping up the fight, like organising a protest when others give an emotional interview, or like taking down statues when others organise a protest, ... is oftentimes just a form of self-engineered heroism. In the name of justice, some just want to pioneer the next phase because that'll earn them a few moments in the spotlights, if only in a very closed circle.
Herd behaviour will then force others to join the pack. One celeb attacks another, others feel compelled to join the "popular side". Because in this age of social media, not having an opinion or refusing to share it with us is considered almost as bad as having the wrong opinion. Survival tactics dictate that one might as well join the good--or rather, the winning side. Witchhunts, as in the case of Rowling, follow. It's America's "red scare" from the '50s all over again.
And so I can only repeat what I've said before. There's always a good cause with any grand-scale activism, but it's in our nature to quickly forget about it; or rather, to abuse it for other means. And don't even think for a moment that all those people, especially celebrities, who tweeted "BLM" these past few weeks, are fully on the movement's side. One might also ask the people who decided to temporarily pull Gone With The Wind or a certain Fawlty Towers episode off the air (to put it back later in an edited form or with a bunch of disclaimers, history lessons or whatever) didn't do so before! Even if the edited Fawlty Towers episode has existed for years, I don't believe for a moment that those in charge of the programming weren't aware of which episode was airing right now. A lot of things we're seeing, whether with the BLM or "people who menstruate" or other debates, border on hypocrisy, confusion of interest and madness. Most of these prove counter-productive: the real problem is never solved, but egos are bruised, alliances formed and politicians fully inspired for their next election speeches. In a few weeks, many will have forgotten the name "George Floyd", even if they were there, at the protests, or even if they are patiently waiting to trap a celeb's tweet in their webs, with some hashtag ready to ruin a career over something that's probably far more innocently written than how it is (deliberately) interpreted.
I'm not asking people to pretend there are no problems; we know there are. I'm not asking people to do nothing; inaction is often just as big a crime. But I would like those who seem appaled at us begging not to let things get out of hand, condemning the out-of-control aggression that we've seen in some places, to consider the possibility that some of what we've seen will neither help the cause nor serve any other purpose than self-promotion.