Suzanne Fields

Where is Winston Churchill now that we need him? Where is a leader with a voice that roars with passion, purrs with reassuring eloquence, thunders with power, a voice that Edward R. Murrow said "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle"? Who among us could rally his countrymen with "nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat"?

There are few left among us who have thrilled to a voice with such power and energy. Many lesser men spin words in defense of ideas, but Churchillian appeals to sacrifice for what's right have been deconstructed, splintered and manipulated into images that rarely persuade or inspire anybody. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but such images are as distorted as a Picasso cubist portrait in broken fragments -- a nose here, an eye there, a mouth upside down.

Voices are raised to call the West to battle against Islamist fascism, to step up to the war to win the minds and hearts of free people in defense of Western civilization, only we aren't supposed to call it that. Gertrude Himmelfarb mourns in her book, "The Moral Imagination," that "Western civilization" is not a term in good repute today: "Most academics use it, if at all, ensconced in quotation marks, as if to distance themselves from it, to deny its reality or impugn it as ethnocentric, colonialist, even racist."

How could the free world (to employ another term out of fashion), once so emboldened by the words of Churchill, fall on such craven times? To be sure, Churchill was alone with his voice in the wilderness for a long time. When Neville Chamberlain returned from his parley with Herr Hitler in Munich, declaring that he had struck a "peace for our time," many of the intellectuals Churchill called "thoughtless dilettantes" and "purblind worldlings" hailed his appeasement as a triumph of statecraft. Churchill, who had been insistent about the Nazi threat, knew better, that Chamberlain's diplomacy was "a disaster of the first magnitude." But both his Tory party and his own constituents were embarrassed by his criticism of Chamberlain, and dismissed him as a "privileged eccentric."


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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