Monday 23 February 2009
Has America’s even-tempered new president already ruffled feathers in the land that spawned Borat and Benny Hill? That’s certainly how the spiky British press responded after the White House sent back to the British Embassy a bust of Sir Winston Churchill that had occupied a cherished spot in President Bush’s Oval Office. Intended as a symbol of transatlantic solidarity, the bust was a loaner from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair following the September 11 attacks. A bust of Abraham Lincoln — Obama’s historical hero — now sits in its place. A White House spokesperson says the Churchill bust was removed before Obama’s inauguration as part of the usual changeover operations, adding that every president puts his own stamp on the Oval Office.
But the British press, as is its wont, smells a snub…
The admiration of Churchill about Hitler:
While all those formidable transformations were occurring in Europe, Corporal Hitler was fighting his long, wearing battle for the German heart. The story of that struggle cannot be read without admiration for the courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to challenge, defy, conciliate, or overcome, all the authorities or resistance’s which barred his path. He, and the ever increasing legions who worked with him, certainly showed at this time, in their patriotic ardour and love of country, that there was nothing that they would not dare, no sacrifice of life, limb or liberty that they would not make themselves or inflict upon their opponents.
And speaking in Rome on 20 January, 1927, Churchill praised Mussolini:
I could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers. Secondly, anyone could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understood it, of the Italian people, and that no lesser interest was of the slightest consequence to him. If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. I will, however, say a word on an international aspect of fascism. Externally, your movement has rendered service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or a working class leader has been that of being undermined by someone more extreme than he. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.