President Obama recently recalled some words by Winston Churchill in regards to torture. The fools over at FOX news then proceeded, in their usual asinine way, to take pot shots at the President by quoting Churchill out of context and implying that this Prime Minister of Britain was a hypocrite because his government ordered the bombing of German cities which produced a high number of civilian causalities. The apparent line of thought by the FOX jerks is that if you bomb a city it is okay then to torture it’s citizens. At least that is what I think their reasoning is, one can never be sure though when you are dealing with cultural illiterates.
Keith Olbermann has established a regular cottage industry correcting the historical gaffes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean “the Coward of the County,” Hannity. These two clowns seldom get anything right, -you have to wonder what day care center they recruit their staff from.
Winston Churchill was a statesman, author and columnist and lecturer for decades and had something to say on just about any subject one could think of. Taken out of context his words could be used to support; or alternately, to condemn, almost any position. He spoke and wrote about the treatment of captured prisoners, and yes, he did talk about torture. The quote below, given in a full context, was in a book of his that was published just after WWI, I think that this clearly shows his thinking about torture: he lumped it in with cannibalism. The bold type is mine.
“Germany having let Hell loose kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. Every outrage against humanity or international law was repaid by reprisals often on a greater scale and longer duration. No truce or parley mitigated the strife of the armies. The wounded died between the lines; the dead moldered into the soil. Merchant ships and neutral ships and hospital ships were sunk on the seas and all on board left to their fate, or killed as they swam. Every effort was made to starve whole nations into submission without regard to age or sex. Cities and monuments were smashed by artillery. Bombs from the air were cast down indiscriminately. Poison gas in many forms stifled or seared the soldiers. Liquid fire was projected upon their bodies. Men fell from the air in flames, or were smothered, often slowly, in the dark recesses of the sea. The fighting strength of armies was limited only by the manhood of their countries. Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa became one vast battlefield on which after years of struggle not armies but nations broke and ran. When it was all over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility.”
From The World Crisis, by Winston S. Churchill, Volume one, page 3, Chap. I, 1923, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Photo shows Churchill as he looked in 1914 at the outbreak of the war; he served then as First Lord of the Admiralty.