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Stop Glorifying Winston Churchill in Movies And Start Talking About Who He Really Was

Winston Churchill was a white supremacist.

Picture from the movie The Darkest Hour

In 2017, two movies were made about the life of Winston Churchill during WWII and The Darkest Hour starring Garry Oldman has just been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture. There have been a total of 12 feature films about Churchill made (not counting the endless TV shows like Netflix’s The Crown). Yet after researching them all, they all seem to brush aside who he really was—a racist and white supremacist.

The Churchill we are taught about in school and movies is one of the most beloved leaders of all-time and the man who fought against fascism and Hitler. What we are not taught is that Churchill was responsible for the death of 3 million Indians in 1943. In that year, a famine broke out in Bengal (caused by the imperial policies of the British) and British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He simply refused and stated it was their fault for “breeding like rabbits” and the starvation was “merrily” culling the population. Even after over 2 million Indian men fought in the British Indian Army, Churchill still expressed his disdain for Indians and even once stated “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people, with a beastly religion.”

When movies show the young life of Winston Churchill, why do they never seem to mention his defending of the concentration camps built in South Africa where at least 115,00 black Africans were put in British Camps where 14,000 of them ended up dying? Churchill was even known for boasting of his experiences there and said “That was before war degenerated. It was great fun galloping about.” During Barack Obama’s presidency, the President removed the bust of Churchill in the Oval Office and had it returned back to Britain because his grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama was imprisoned without a trial for two years and tortured for resisting Churchill’s empire.

Why is the Churchill portrayed is never the same one that advocated for the use of chemical weapons primarily against Kurds and Afghans? In a memo written in 1919, he wrote “I don’t understand the squeamishness about the use of gas,” and “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”

Why do these movies claim to portray one of Britain’s “best hours” when it should be one of their most shameful? The wounds Churchill inflicted on many people are still no one where near to being healed. The pain will travel down through generations if we choose not to bring it to light. We need to stop making movies portraying Churchill as a hero when he was nowhere near one. He hardly cared about the Jews being killed in the war; his “victory” was entirely political and he just wanted to win the war. His “moral bombing” of Germany was in no way heroic and it shouldn’t be portrayed as such.

You don’t need to watch the entirety of these movies to be disgusted at what is being portrayed. Take the trailer from the movie entitled Churchill. Sentences flashing on the screen like “Britain’s greatest moment” or “Our greatest Briton.”

We are so uneducated about who Churchill was that in 2002 Churchill won a contest against Shakespeare and Darwin for being the best Briton of all time. It’s time for there to be a movie showcasing the real history. It is 2018 and the film industry should stop trying to create a fantasy of what they think went down. In no way am I saying that Churchill movies need to stop being made. But please, make one that shows the flaws and the horrors of Churchill’s career. Stop watering history down.

If The Darkest Hour wins best picture this year, let’s hope it is the last time we have a movie about the “thrilling” or “inspiring” story about Winston Churchill. Let’s hope an honest movie will finally be released and show who Winston Churchill was—a morally corrupt and terrible person.

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Written by Nilofer Rolston

Nilofer Rolston is a Pakistani Canadian and an intersectional feminist. She is also an aspiring novelist.