Winston Churchill statue should stand
Dan Kitwood/GettyImages

This whole Winston Churchill statue affair reminded me of an episode of The Simpsons

Jebediah Springfield was an well respected icon for the people of Springfield but it was revealed that the figurehead was actually a frauf and quite a nasty man. Lisa Simspon had the opportunity to reveal the truth but she instead chose to conceal it. The truth would cause too much volatile anger and upset so, on balance, she felt it would be better to keep it to herself.

Sometimes, people aren't ready for the truth. Sometimes, people don't want to hear the truth. Education has taught people that Winston Churchill is a hero. People have parents and grandparents who fought in World War II. To them, Churchill was the man who saved their lives and brought peace to Britain. There is an association with Churchill and elderly relatives, people who died in combat. The Second World War, quite rightly, remains a very emotive topic.  

Perspective

Churchill is not a saintly human being. There is a lot of evidence to suggest he was a racist. He was also against the rights of women. Obviously, these aspects deserve scrutiny and those aspects should be given more scrutiny within secondary school education. But, despite his glaring faults, he has gone down in history as a man who saved the lives of many British people. That cannot be understated. And I'd imagine that this is exactly what people think of when you mention the former Prime Minister

Do white people look at the statue of Churchill and seek solace in the leader's disdain for political correctness? I highly doubt it! The majority of white people will remember him as the man who saved them from the clutches of evil. An attack on Churchill would appear to be an attack on British heritage and culture. 

Right now, declaring war on his statue isn't a good look. Many white people don't even think about racism when they think of Churchill so they see these attacks on his name to be farcical. Slave traders are very different.

People who made their money through the crippling of black people should not still be standing as statues around Britain. While going above the law to hack them down may not have been the answer, it wouldn't have taken too much persuasion to see the statue moved into a museum. 

State of the world

Ultimately, you have to work with what you have. What Britain have at the moment is a nation that is generally rather populist. It doesn't mean that they won't listen to reason but it does mean that they will be quite protective of British values. For many, Churchill is a sacred British value. Threatening his memory so aggressively is like prodding a hungry lion with a stick. Bringing down a statue will not help the Black Lives Matter movement gain support; it will antagonise the very people who they should be trying to educate. 

Let the Far Right eat themselves. Today, a large cluster of people are taking on the police in London as they stand against their Far Left counterparts. Many people who are on the fence with the BLM movement will be quick to ridicule the ridiculousness of the Far Right gathering. It's hard to take this stand seriously when they are hassling the police and shouting "God save our Queen" at the top of their voices whilst getting drunk! Two arguments against BLM marches were down to a lack of social distancing and attacks on police officers. How very ironic! 

This gathering of Far Right activists will count for a minority of the population. A much larger group will be in the grey zone, not knowing whether to step out of their comfort zone and acknowledge society's racial inequalities. You can see people on Facebook who are absolutely against the abuse of Churchill but are also embarrassed by the Brits who gathered in London to protest against BLM. I use the example of Facebook because it is the most used social media in the world and is a lot more reflective of general public opinions than Twitter. 

Education

It all goes back to the need for a more transparent educational system. We are taught about Britain's moral triumphs in the past but there is much less said about the negative aspects of our nation's history. There is reason to reexamine Churchill's past because, after all, we live in a democracy and everything is up for scrutiny. That is something we should implement for future generations. 

We aren't yet where we need to be for racial equality. We are a long way from that. In fairness, the progression in the last 30 years has been promising. Overt racism is much less common and people now understand that there is a taboo behind such language. Naturally, those of black ethnicity want progress to be faster but, realistically, that cannot happen. 

Peaceful change cannot happen by vilifying a national icon. Trying to cancel Churchill will not bring about a better future. It is better to focus on topics that can be discussed with this populist nation. Small attitude shifts can build-up to huge changes.

Educational reform is the long-term goal that could bring about sustainable change in the future. As it is, an establishment of white men are going to have to make some big decisions because they are the people who are predominantly in power. Therein lies the problem. Any kind of change requires approval from the whites. 

Gaining the approval of white British people is going to be crucial. When you get the people on-side, you can begin to put pressure on parliament to move with the times. Doing that, however, will be a challenging and frustrating task. But, with swathes of younger white people actively campaigning in favour of BLM, it can be done.  

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