If it Had Not Been

The Guardian is a singularly obtuse Left-Wing tabloid in Great Britain, but they outdid themselves in a story about the most overrated people in history.

In regard to Winston Churchill, this gem was delivered in the story:

Quite a few of his Tory colleagues might have concurred with Lee’s view of Churchill’s hopeless judgment and over-zealous use of the military, at least right up until the summer of 1940. “If it had not been for the fact that he led Britain to victory in the second world war we would have scant memory of [him],” Lee reckons.

Yeah, that whole leading Great Britain to victory in World War II does seem to spoil the meme that the story is pushing doesn’t it?  Let’s see figures we could say were overrated from American history based upon this “standard’.

If it had not been for winning the Civil War, Abe Lincoln would be remembered as just a small time Illinois politician.

If it had not been for leading the Continental Army in an against all odds victory in the American Revolution, George Washington would now be a completely forgotten Virginia plantation owner.

If it had not been for his brilliance in leading the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee would now be remembered only by students of the Mexican War.

If it had not been for their invention of the airplane, Wilbur and Orville Wright would be completely unknown.

If it had not been for the advent of World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower would have finished his Army career as a Lieutenant Colonel, unknown to history.

It is easy to regard anyone in history as overrated, if we simply cut from their life what they are famous for.  What this ignores of course is that someone’s life is a preparation, unknown to them of course, for the challenges they will confront.  Separating the rest of a famous person’s life from what made them famous is to demonstrate complete ignorance of both history and the human condition.  None of us appear on this planet full-grown and ready to step forward and accomplish a great task.  Our past, so long as we live, is always prelude to our future, and it is impossible to understand great figures in history without carefully studying their life before they came to their great challenges.

As for the slam at Churchill, always a prime target of the Lefties at The Guardian, this poem by a Churchill contemporary, G. K. Chesterton, comes to mind:

O learned man who never learned to learn,   

Save to deduce, by timid steps and small,   

From towering smoke that fire can never burn

And from tall tales that men were never tall.

Say, have you thought what manner of man it is   

Of whom men say “He could strike giants down”?

Or what strong memories over time’s abyss   

Bore up the pomp of Camelot and the crown.   

And why one banner all the background fills,    

Beyond the pageants of so many spears,    

And by what witchery in the western hills    

A throne stands empty for a thousand years.    

Who hold, unheeding this immense impact,    

Immortal story for a mortal sin;    

Lest human fable touch historic fact,    

Chase myths like moths, and fight them with a pin.   

Take comfort; rest—there needs not this ado.

    You shall not be a myth, I promise you.