Down the Memory Hole in British Schools: Winston Churchill, and BBC's Pre-War Censorship of Him
FURY erupted last night after Sir Winston Churchill was axed from school history lessons.
Britain’s cigar-chomping World War Two PM — famed for his two-finger victory salute — was removed from a list of figures secondary school children must learn about.
Instead they will be taught about “relevant” issues such as global warming and drug dangers. Churchill’s grandson, Tory MP Nicholas Soames, branded the move “total madness.”
The decision to axe Churchill is part of a major shake-up aimed at dragging the national curriculum into the 21st century, it was claimed last night.
But the plan — hatched by advisers — angered schools secretary Ed Balls, who vowed to probe ALL the changes to the curriculum.
The proposals will see traditional timetables torn up, with pupils focusing on modern “relevant” topics such as drug and booze abuse, climate change and GM foods.
Churchill — voted the greatest ever Briton — goes off the required lessons list, along with Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King.
Though Churchill's apparent demotion is the most appalling, it's hard to imagine what any history teacher might say about the 1940s and 1950s without mentioning the names of the others.
It should not be forgotten, but it appears that it shall be: A large part of the reason Churchill's warnings were not heeded is that they were not often enough heard. As Powerline noted several years ago, the BBC, the UK's government-underwritten broadcasting monopoly, was largely responsible for that:
The Churchill biographies note mostly in passing that the BBC systematically barred Churchill from discussing his defense and foreign policy views during the 1930's; Sir John Reith was head of the BBC at the time. Manchester states that "Reith saw to it that [Churchill] was seldom heard over the BBC..." Reith wrote of Churchill in Reith's monumentally voluminous diaries, "I absolutely hate him."
In 1938 Churchill was scheduled to appear on the BBC for a half-hour talk -- on the Mediterranean. When the Czech crisis erupted, Manchester reports, Churchill asked that the program be cancelled. On the Saturday before Parliament's debate on the Munich Agreement, Churchill agreed nevertheless to meet with (future Communist spy) Guy Burgess of the BBC. Churchill complained to Burgess, according to Burgess's recollection, that "he had been very badly treated in the matter of political broadcasts and that he was always muzzled by the BBC."
Why did Reith detest Churchill? In Reith's eyes, Churchill was of course a warmonger, and Reith, not coincidentally, held Hitler in the highest regard. How little times have changed.
Even after World War II the Beeb's handling of Churchill has usually been at best lukewarm, and at worst grudgingly obligatory. As its sanitizing of references to "terror" and "terrorists" in its initial reports of the 7/7/05 London bombings shows, its failure to recognize tyranny and mortal threats in favor of politically-correct whitewashing continues to this day.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.