Astronaut Scott Kelly apologizes for praising Winston Churchill
Scott Kelly is a NASA astronaut. That says a lot about him right there. To be selected as an astronaut, you must be the best of the best – smart, fearless, and psychologically sound.
So why does Kelly sound like an idiot here?
Scott Kelly, a retired American astronaut with multiple space flights under his belt, apologized Sunday after quoting Winston Churchill and calling the 20th century British prime minister "one of the greatest leaders of modern times."
"Did not mean to offend by quoting Churchill. My apologies. I will go and educate myself further on his atrocities, racist views which I do not support. My point was we need to come together as one nation. We are all Americans. That should transcend partisan politics," Kelly wrote on Twitter in the evening.
Right the first time, Scotty. In 1940, Churchill took a battered, beaten nation after the British army was kicked out of France and rallied his people to resist the Nazi onslaught. Certainly, Hitler helped a lot by making several key blunders. But as a demonstration of peerless leadership, there are few modern examples to match Churchill.
So calling Churchill "one of the greatest leaders of modern times" is a no-brainer. It is a statement supported by history and the facts.
Yossi Gestetner tried to give Kelly a spine:
You are disgracing yourself here. Please stop bending to the will of deranged online trolls.— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) October 7, 2018
To no avail, of course. Kelly thinks he has to "educate himself" about Churchill's racist views. While he's at it, he might want to educate himself about Churchill's colonialist, imperialist, and white supremacist views as well.
When a Labor Party candidate for Parliament disparaged Churchill for these views, Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames, said simply, "You're talking about one of the greatest men the world has ever seen, who was a child of the Edwardian age and spoke the language of [it]." You can admire and praise Churchill for the things he accomplished while not admiring or praising some of his 19th-century views on race.
In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission: "I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place."
Racist? Sure. White supremacist to the core, too. But I fail to see how a failing that was so common at the time he spoke those words could somehow negate achievements that changed the course of history. The British people speak English, not German today because of Winston Churchill.
We don't hear calls from these trolls and their liberal allies to wipe the name Ted Kennedy from the history books. He was responsible for the death of a young woman and spent his entire adult life carrying out sexual assaults against women. Why are his crimes and behavior excused to the point that he is lionized as one of the greatest legislators of the 20th century while Churchill – and Brett Kavanaugh, for that matter – are not deserving of anything but the contempt of history?
The point is simple: you must look at the totality of a man or woman's life and character to make any historical judgments about him. Anything less is shallow, stupid, and anti-intellectual.