Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Sickening Event

I had been planning to write something about wind turbine protests today, and that lasted all the way up to when I woke up and felt like my brain was spinning around on a turntable that had so thoughtfully been mounted inside my skull, a turntable that spun faster and faster. I've taken the day off from work today because of it--so this will instead be short.

Call it "One Historical Figure Who Was Rather More Evil Than You Thought." The figure in question? Winston Churchill. The thing about old Winston is that he's got incredibly good optics, seeing as how he gave those speeches about never surrendering and presided over the defeat of the Nazis. Of course, he was turfed out of office almost immediately thereafter, but that tends to get a bit glossed over. Today, Churchill's reputation remains strong--additionally, bolstered by jokes that get mileage out of his well-known fondness for cigars and booze.

He's also one of the few people commemorated by a statue in Toronto. Not that many statues in Toronto.

But he wasn't all snappy answers. Back in July of 1944, barely a month after the Normandy landings had finally exposed a weakness in Nazi Germany's armor, Churchill was already anxious to get things over with. This is understandable, given the fact that buzz bombs were falling on London regularly, but the way he proposed going about it was so at odds with the character that has been cultivated in cultural memory that it threw me.

In fact, he seriously proposed the use of chemical warfare, in the form of poison gas against cities, and biological warfare--that is, anthrax--against Germany was also considered, held back mainly because the means to reliably deliver weaponized anthrax did not exist at the time. It was something I was reminded of in my spinning mind this morning, and only hardened my conviction that anyone who seriously considers using biological warfare deserves to be ripped apart very slowly and very painfully.

Sure, chemical and biological weapons are classified on the same level with nukes when it comes to weapons of mass destruction--but not all destruction is created equal. Nuclear weapons aren't even the worst of it, as far as I'm concerned--no, our most horrible weapons are the diseases we've weaponized. A nuclear bomb is brutal, is devastating beyond compare, but it's also predictable; just don't be there when it goes off. Biological weapons are inherently uncontrollable. They will burn through entire populations, and they will put them through torment before they die.

Sickening, yeah.

1 comment:

  1. Churchill is one of those historical figures that I just can't bring myself to dislike, in spite of his many flaws and failures - and there are many, indeed. His hagiography could be taken down a peg or two, sure, but as far as ruthless racist imperialist SOBs go, he's still okay in my book.