Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let's Get Controversial

Welcome to the new year.

I found this statement on the following blog:

"IN the eighties, Saddam Hussein used poison gas against Iraq's Kurdish population. IN 1923, Winston Churchill advocated using poison gas against Iraq's Kurdish population. Only one of them got hanged. The other has a statue in Queen's Park."

Here's my two cents - Saddam used poisonous gas. Winston Churchill only suggested it. Although Saddam doesn't have a statue in Queen's Park, he did have a number of statues in Iraq.........until they got destroyed.

Seriously, Saddam was responsible for the deaths of innocent people. He struck back at these people because a minute percentage tried to kill him and/or disagreed with his beliefs. Churchill on the other hand, had no intention of wiping off an entire culture. He chose to strike back at the minute percentage.

Certainly something worthy of a response. I'd love to get your thoughts on the quote. Discuss.

The Hek

- Check out Episode 23 of The Audio Circus -

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You do realize I'm going to have to tell Steve about this. Especially now that Blake's gone and shot his mouth off at it.

- Mr. Wood

Anonymous said...

The RAF did in fact use poison gas attacks against Iraqis during the British mandate of that country. Airpower was how they mantained control as there had evolved no effective defense for it at this time.

Furthermore, Churchill proposed dropping mustard gas on German cities.

That being said, Winston Churchill was the greatest English who ever lived.

How's that for controversy?

-Billy

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Anonymous said...

Let's Get Controversial, indeed! I think I've started a little ruckus... :-)

I'm not trying to mythologize Churchill. I just wanted to establish a wider perspective.

Steve said...

Well, my first observation would be that the suggestion to use poison gas demonstrates both the intention and desire to use it. If his suggestion was not carried out, it hardly suggests any benevolence on Churchill's part.

Secondly, the "minute percentage" that Churchill chose to "strike back" against were actually very large portions of the Arab/Kurdish population. This was actually a nation wide rebellion.

They did not try to kill him (so he actually wasn't "striking back" against anything - just striking), but they certainly disagreed with his beliefs. They believed they should rule themselves. So, as secretary of War, he sent in the RAF bombers.

So what we have are two leaders who both supressed the Iraqi Kurds by violent means, and both liked the idea of poisoned gas.

Even if one was worse, why do we fail to condemn the other?

The Hek said...

Thank you for your response.

I don't know who said it but "Those who win the battles, get to write the history books." I think that's what it all boils down too when it comes to comparing Churchill and Hussein.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Hek. I'd have to agree with that.

Churchill himself said: "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

My fundamental point is that his place in history is far more complicated than some people would have us believe, on both sides of the argument. There was plenty he said and did during his lifetime that is equally deserving of both praise and condemnation. To ignore some in favour of others is narrow-minded and unfair.

Keep in mind, other famous "heroic" historical figures did or said some pretty unsavoury things too:

* During the US Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended civil liberties, including the writ of habeas corpus, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial.

* During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt authorized the forcible internment of approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans in government-run concentration camps.

So, don't be so quick to judge. Very few public figures, both past and present, are anything close to moral paragons. Our leaders & institutions are imperfect because humanity as a whole is imperfect. To expect perfection from imperfection is illogical.

Claire said...

Being from working class Londoner background, I'd like to say that Churchill was an apt war leader (from England's persppective) and was funny when he made fun of people, occasionally.

You guys have hurt my brain though with these comments (my brain being softened up by two glasses of wine, though) so give my poetry reading ass a few months of research to catch up.

PS: I don't think that Saddam should have been killed (keepin' it controversial) if only for the sake of keeping a country awash with violence a bit (even slightly) less awashed in violence.

I dunno. Let me go write a poem about trees or something.