What Would Sir Winston Do?

Sen. H.L. “Bill” Richardson
founder and chairman of Gun Owners of America

Winston Churchill, commenting on the sinful nature of man once contritely said “we are all worms …” but then humorously added, “I must admit, I do think I am a glow worm.”

And glow he did.  

In 1940, Sir Winston became a beacon light to the world, a hero to lovers of freedom, a man worthy of emulation. He had many marvelous traits:  two of which were a wonderful sense of humor and a dogged tenacity that refused to accept defeat. His statement of “Never, never, never give in” should be the motto of present day freedom-loving Americans; especially since our liberty is under intensive internal assault.

Sir Winston Churchill’s wry comment and sage advice should be followed by all firearm owners when he said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” We firearm owners have lost some of our Second Amendment rights and are close to loosing an important part of our First Amendment rights. But what we have lost, we will win back.  

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Some wry commentary from the man who will be remembered as one of the most successful, if not the greatest political leader of the twentieth century.  

During England’s darkest hour, his wit and willingness to fight lifted the spirits of the British people and his bull dog determination gave them hope.  His “never give in” attitude was a key ingredient in the British resolve  when the immediate future looked absolutely hopeless.

Let’s quickly review the horrendous circumstances that England faced in May of 1940. Paris was about to fall, France was totally occupied, the battered British troops were being evacuated at Dunkirk; it was questionable if they could all be successfully brought home. Without much resistance, practically unimpeded, Hitler’s panzer forces were blitzkrieging across the European continent. The small, largely defenseless island of England was next.  

Neville Chamberlain, a well-meaning but naive pacifist, was their Prime Minister. His administration had been a disaster and a new leader was desperately needed. Against the King’s wishes and by the smallest majority, parliament turned hesitatingly and apprehensively to the feisty, outspoken Winston Churchill.

Many were predicting his term as Prime Minister would be a short one. One Member of Parliament wrote, “The establishment — so dubious of the choice and so prepared to find its doubts justified.”

Sir Winston even faced; within his own small cabinet, a movement to consider discussions with Italy’s diplomats, asking them if they would mediate between England and Germany for terms of peace. The powerful Lord Halifax, who had been Winston’s chief rival for the Prime Minister post, was vigorously promoting the idea of a negotiated peace.

Churchill thought that such a move would be a disaster. Unfortunately, many members of Parliament were beginning to agree with Halifax.  

One of the most extraordinary scenes and decisive moments in the second World War, was a cabinet meeting held by Sir Winston, just eighteen short days after he became Prime Minister. Tired and worn down by a long day of bad news, Churchill addressed his cabinet. Up to that time, Halifax hadn’t given any ground and was still advocating compromise with Hitler.

Sir Winston told them, “Nations that went down fighting, rose again. But, those who surrendered were tamely finished.” He then said, “I have thought very carefully, these last days whether it was part of my duty to consider entering into negotiations with ‘that man.’ But, it was idle to think that, if we tried to make peace now, should get better terms than if we fought it out. The Germans would demand our fleet — that would be called disarmament — our navel bases, and much else. We should become a slave state, through a British government which would be Hitler’s puppet. And I am convinced,” he dramatically concluded, “that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place, if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lie choking in his own blood upon the ground.”

Much to Sir Winston’s surprise, the entire cabinet gathered around him, slapping him on the back and shaking his hand. So ended the misguided plans of Lord Halifax and so began the demise of the German paperhanger.

That, fellow gunners, was Winston’s leadership. No polls, no consensus vote, no equivocation, no compromise with evil.

Every American, to this day, was a direct beneficiary of that one man’s courage. Can you imagine what would have happened if Halifax had been successful? There would have been nothing to stand in the Nazi’s way of conquering all of Europe. Russia and Africa would have fallen as well. Could you imagine what trouble the United States would have faced fighting the Axis powers alone? We should all shudder at the thought of how long the war would have taken. Add to that, the Germans were not far behind us in the discovery of the atomic bomb. Where would they have been in the development of nuclear fission if there had been no air bases in England for planes to bomb the German homeland? What if they, the Nazis, would have been first? What city would have gone up in a mushroom cloud?   New York? Washington? Los Angeles?  Think about it, then contemplate the awesome significance of Churchill’s life, the very existence of this one courageous man.  

We Americans need heroes — moral upright men, beacons of light. We need them in American politics now. We need no appeasers, or compromisers of principle.

The prophetic poem by Alexander Pope should be etched in our minds.

      Vice is an evil of such frightful mean,
      To be hated needs but to be seen.
      But seen too oft, familiar with its face,
      You first abhor, then pity, then embrace.

Today…..We are seeing evil much too oft. In this age where the olden times are the 1970’s and World War Two is antiquity, we should touch the hearts of our fellow Americans and remind them that our cultural roots go back a few years farther than Elvis.

We should never forget we are the accumulation, the offspring of two thousand years of human progress, born in Bethlehem, awakening in the fifteen hundreds and stretching its muscles in the 16th century in England and flowering in 1776 in America. Our heritage and our culture are not the accumulation of the last few decades but a composite of the blood, sacrifice and tears of centuries of freedom-loving, God-fearing patriots.

William Bennett, in his great book Our Sacred Honor, commented on George Washington’s farewell address.  “Our first president reminds us that our national strength and stability rests on the pillars of private morality, most especially religion. The word that he uses to describe the role of religion and morality in America is not ‘optional’ or ‘desirable,’ or ‘helpful.’ It is ‘indispensable.’”  

For 177 years, every president from George Washington to Harry Truman unashamedly referred to America as a Christian, God fearing nation.

We were …. So what happened?

Today, when our political leadership expresses morals and values, it is as if such standards are conjured out of thin air, made up as they go along, conveniently invented to fit any new situation, as if there was no author of our human behavior … no Creator … no recognition of the indispensable part Providence has played in our nation’s history.                 

In the beginning of the so-called enlightened twentieth century, President Theodore Roosevelt stated, “There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality.  There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.”

He then went on to get tough.

“All those blatant sham reformers, in the name of new morality, preach the old, old vice and self indulgence which rotted out first, the moral fiber and then even the external greatness of Greece and Rome.”

Can you imagine these words being spoken by a contemporary national politician? Republican or Democrat?

Heavily influenced by their Judeo-Christian training, our ancestors recognized human capabilities … and frailties.

Hamilton, Hancock, Madison, Jay, Jefferson, Franklin and other wise men created a republican government of law, binding us down with the chains of a Constitution — to protect us from our own ill.

Thomas Jefferson also gave us sage advice: “Be honest, tell the truth. Nothing is so mistaken as the supposition that a person is to extricate himself from a difficulty by intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by trimming, by an untruth, by an injustice. This increases the difficulty tenfold, and those who pursue these methods, get themselves so involved at length that they can turn no way but their infamy becomes more exposed.”   

We are on the threshold of loosing the country our forefathers gave us. We must win it back — by willingness to confront evil, by confrontation and with the blessings of the Almighty.