Was he the moral equivalent of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Mengele, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot….? The list could go on. And the answer is that the question is absurd.
But there is a responsibility on us to acknowledge the dark side of Churchill, which to some degree is the dark side of his times. See for example: Not his finest hour: The dark side of Winston Churchill. And there was the Bengal Famine:
On the other side, see The Bengali Famine.
Martin Gilbert writes about the situation at the time: “The Japanese were on the Indian border with Burma—indeed inside India at Kohima and Imphal in the state of Assam. Gandhi’s Quit India movement, and Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army then fighting alongside the Japanese provided the incentive for a full-scale Japanese invasion. The Royal Air Force and the Army were fully stretched. We know what terrors the Japanese wreaked n non-Japanese natives in Korea, the Philippines, and Malaya.” If the RAF planes supporting India’s defense were pulled off for a famine airlift, far more than three million would have died. The blame for insufficient famine relief lies with those who prevented those planes from being used: the Japanese.
The case against Churchill collapses when we consider the war—just like the oft-repeated complaints that he did nothing for Australia after Japan attacked, or that he didn’t attend Roosevelt’s funeral out of pique or envy. There was a war on. More pressing military matters were at hand which governed his actions and decisions.
It is entirely appropriate to discuss such things, and more in Churchill’s career. But I have in mind too, not meaning a reductio ad absurdum, that in 1955 I was a racist myself. I was 11 or 12 at the time — but Billy Ling, if you read this mate, I apologise. It was a disgusting thing I said to you that day….
So on Facebook I considered THE statue:
“Now I am going to tell you why there should be that statue of Winston Churchill in London — not because of his appalling views on Indians, Arabs etc., not because he was unfortunate enough to have had an aristocratic 19th century upbringing, not because of Gallipoli, not because he drank like a fish… No, because in that shining hour when everything was at stake he stood up to the Fascists and inspired victory, as no-one else could have, and I for one am grateful and don’t begrudge the bastard his statue — the imagery of which refers obviously to that time none of us should forget. Even if our PM Curtin had to defy him.”
And I’ll leave it there.