Two pieces of advice to those wishing to quote Churchill on Islam and Muslims: (1) Don't change the bits that don't suit you (2) Don't try to pretend that the guy responsible for setting up the London Central Mosque had anything but huge respect for Islam
Paul Weston is the party chairman of Liberty GB, a British fascist party. Weston formerly led the British Freedom Party (an offshoot of the British National Party - it's hard to keep track of all the splits in the British far right) and before that stood as an election candidate for UKIP (the UK Independence Party, probably the only one of those parties most of you will have heard of).
Yesterday Weston was arrested for causing a disturbance, specifically for shouting through a megaphone on the steps of the Winchester Guildhall. He was haranguing a non-existent crowd with a passage from Winston Churchill's book The River War. I thought I should add a comment to the story on the Liberty GB web page, so added this:
Paul Weston clearly loves Churchill. He quotes not only from an obscure book written in 1899 before Churchill had done anything significant, but quotes a passage written tongue-in-cheek about Muslim fatalism when a railway engine had broken down and they just reckoned it was the Will of Allah. Even more impressively, Mr Weston found the passage (or someone found it for him) in the first edition, as Churchill deleted it from all the later ones. Mr Weston may like to ponder why he did that: WC was never one for political correctness, after all.
He may get some clue when he considers that in 1940, when the Battle of Britain was raging overhead, Winston Churchill made it a priority of the War Cabinet to allocate government funds for the foundation of the London Central Mosque. Churchill wished to recognise the immense contribution and sacrifice of Muslim soldiers in the Indian Army in both World Wars (he later said we couldn't have won WW2 without them), and considered it shameful that London's Muslims had nowhere to worship.
When you consider Churchill's later admiration for British Muslim troops, it is especially unfortunate that Mr Weston makes a tiny error in his quotation from "The River War". What he was shouting through his megaphone was "Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith". What Churchill actually wrote was "Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the QUEEN". An unfortunate slip, and one I am sure Mr Weston will hurry to clear up.
I have little doubt the police simply wished to discuss with him the way in which his mistake and his selective quotation traduced the memory of one of history's greatest Englishmen, and spent their forty-minute discussion explaining that they had been alerted to his speech, not by the lady who had complained to Mr Weston, not by the whining din of his loud-hailer, but by the frantic spinning sounds coming from Churchill's grave in Bladon churchyard.
There is a good discussion of the passage Weston was (mis)quoting here.
Regarding the War Cabinet and the London Central Mosque, see the War Cabinet minutes here, which reference the recommendation here.
There is another excellent little piece on Churchill and Islam here. The author is right: I hadn't known any of those things. I didn't dare to mention number two (that he tried to fight for the Ottoman Empire in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897) in my comment on the Liberty GB page. Faced with his willingness to risk his life - two years before The River War was published - fighting for the mightiest Muslim power on the planet, and against Christians, their collective brains, tiny though they be, would explode in fountains of blood. Either that, or they would have to find some elaborate way of explaining the collapse of their entire view of Churchill as a fellow Islamophobe. (A phenomenon called "cognitive dissonance", first identified by the authors of this wonderful book.)
Someone styling himself Porphyrogenitos (he probably intends modelstly to imply that he was "born to the purple", though my first thought was "purple balls") replied to my comment thus:
Churchill's quote from the 'The River War' is consistent with his views in his earlier work 'The Malakand Field Force' in which he also made comments about the savagery of the Pushtun tribesmen on the NW Frontier and the Islamic fanaticism that inspired them. Why he deleted them, well as a guess its because he became a Minister of the Crown and he couldn't be seen to be condemning the beliefs of tens of millions of the Empires inhabitants, but as I say thats just a guess.
Regarding the Central London Mosque, the reason Churchill probably offered the site of the present building is because he way trying to curry favour with the Muslim league in India as a partner in India's governance, as Britain was rapidly running out of patience with the Congress Party with regard to the prosecution of the war and India's role in it i.e. it was done out of political expediency not because of any love for Islam. Churchill had no love for the Indian Army BTW, and thought it of little use whether its units were Hindu or Muslim. His numerous private comments confirm that in WWII. He may have made comments for public consumption that differed from his private ones for the same aforesaid political expediency. I disagree with him on the usefulness of the Indian Army but thats a different matter.
If Churchill is spinning in his grave its almost certainly due to the usage which the site he donated for the Mosque is now being put to the use of i.e. a worldwide centre of Wahhabism. Even the Pakistani Ambassador resigned from the Mosque committee due to its fundamentalism.
If Churchill could see the state of his beloved London and England he would be in tears.
To which I naturally replied:
The (mis)quote from "The River War" seems a little hard to square with the fact that two years earlier, in 1897, Churchill had actually set sail to go and fight for the Ottoman Empire (the greatest Islamic power of Earth) against the Greeks (mainly Christian). Sadly for him, the Greco-Turkish War was over before he arrived. Doesn't sound much like the action of someone who considered Islam a "retrograde force".
It's lovely to watch you squirm though, creating imaginary "private conversations" that only you know about, to "correct" the false impression of Churchill's views on Islam given by his actual speeches, writings and actions. Basically you're saying that Winston Churchill, the man revered by millions as one of history's greatest Englishmen, was a liar and hypocrite who tailored his speeches, his books and even the way the government spent money during the height of the war, to political expediency rather than anything he actually believed. Do you find many takers for that attitude among your friends?
Actually, your idea does at least explain something that had puzzled me. I could never understand why supporters of a fascist party like Liberty GB would idolise one of history's greatest anti-fascists. Now I get it. You reckon that all the time he was really a supporter of Hitler, and that all that "Blood, tears, toil and sweat" stuff was just him telling lies to make sure of his reputation after the war. Thanks for clearing that up.
Oh, you might like to read this book. It's really good on the elaborate self-deceptions people resort to when faced with solid evidence that their strongest beliefs are utter bollocks. Enjoy!
Elsewhere, "Porphyrogenitos" tells a fellow-traveller that Weston has been "charged with Incitement of Racial Hatred, more specifically of racially aggravated crime under Section 4 of the Public Order Act with a max penalty of 2 years inside". Excellent!
In another comment which I won't bother you with the whole of, the mighty Linda Rivera tells us that she is proud to be a member of the greatest political party Britain has ever produced, and that "Paul Weston is Britain's greatest leader ever!" (Funny, most people would award that title to Churchill.) I have asked her in what sense Weston - who has never held elected office - can be described as "Britain's leader" at all. I'll let you know what comes back.