A Fresh Case of “Generational Chauvinism”

For immediate release
From: The Churchill Centre
Tel. (888)WSC-1874 • Email: info@winstonchurchill.org

LONDON, APRIL 18TH: From today’s Times: “Anybody repeating the bonkers mantra that Beijing 2008 will re-run the 1936 Nazi Olympics might reconsider some other racial views of that era, such as Winston Churchill’s considered opinion that ‘Chinks’ and ‘dirty baboos’ in the East needed a good thrashing with ‘the sjambok.'”

This intriguing remark sent us scurrying to our scans of 50 million words by and about Winston Churchill including all of the latter’s books, articles, speeches and published papers.

“Chinks” comes up 21 times, mostly in relation to chinks in walls or armour, only once in relation to the Chinese. “Baboos” has nine appearances, mostly in the words of Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph. The only WSC quotation with both epithets is from Andrew Roberts, Eminent Churchillians (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1994):

“Churchill’s adviser on intelligence matters, Major Desmond Morton, wrote that to Churchill ‘all Germans were Nazees, all Italians organ-grinders…. en masse the Bedu is a dirty, cowardly cut-throat, with very primitive passions indeed and about as trustworthy as a King Cobra.’ [Hmm….Editor.] Furthermore, Negroes were ‘niggers’ or ‘blackamoors’, Arabs were ‘worthless’, Chinese were ‘chinks’ or ‘pigtails’, Indians were ‘baboos’ (a contemptuous term for clerks), and South African black tribes were ‘Hottentots’. Not all Churchill’s racial characterizations were negative, however. He believed the Jews to be ‘the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world’ (212-13).”

“Sjambok” (a rhino-hide whip commonly used on black miners in Southern Rhodesia during the early 1900s) comes up only three times, and only once is in a Churchill quotation–by the Churchillophobe Clive Ponting in his book Churchill (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994). But even this flaming critic doesn’t offer The Times’s quotation:

“During a weekend at Chequers, the Governor of Burma, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, raised the possibility of self-government for some colonies but he found that Churchill would not listen. The Prime Minister’s response was to say, ‘What those people need is the sjambok’ and to order the Governor to leave Chequers immediately” (690). Ponting’s footnote references only a secondary source, Thorne’s Allies of a Kind (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978), p. 60.

So what The Times has done is stitch together “chinks,” “dirty baboos” and “sjambok” to manufacture what will no doubt soon be all over the internet as a Churchill quotation.

There was no doubt that WSC was a product of his time and occasionally (though apparently not a lot) used racial epithets. What is remarkable is the modern media’s belief that 100 years ago, Winston Churchill should have talked like Martin Luther King.

A Footnote on “Generational Chauvinism” from Finest Hour Issue 106

Generational Chauvinism (William Manchester’s term) been going on for years. In March 2000, Canada’s *Globe and Mail* columnist Rick Salutin, wrote that Churchill “was also an unapologetic racist. He called Indians ‘baboos’ and Africans ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’…He believed in the destiny of the ‘British race’ and ‘English-speaking peoples.'”

CC President John Plumpton replied to the *Globe and Mail*: “Even our heroes were human, with flaws in their character and mistakes in their record….but it is fair to ask for accuracy. Salutin is obviously unaware that the Irish nationalist who gave his life for a peace settlement, Michael Collins, sent word to “tell Winston we could never have done anything without him.” Churchill led the resistance to a communist takeover in Greece, but surely Rick Salutin is not suggesting that Stalin would have removed Soviet troops from Poland, Hungary, East Germany, etc. had Churchill given him Greece? Churchill warned of the “Iron Curtain” when other world leaders either didn’t see it or refused to recognize it. He did battle with labour leaders, but he also established unemployment insurance and labour exchanges (employment centres) in Britain prior to World War I. Yes, he made mistakes, but he just as often admitted them, saying he sometimes had to eat his own words: “…and I must confess that I have always found them a healthy diet.” One hopes that Churchill’s critics who indulge in manufactured fantasies will find their own words equally tasty.

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