An 'Iron Curtain' Of Political Intolerance Is Descending Upon America, Churchill Experts Warn

Mar 03, 2016, 15:10 ET from Westminster College

FULTON, Mo., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A new "Iron Curtain" is falling across America, creating a self-inflicted wall of intolerance in violation of the leadership principals of Winston Churchill, who delivered his "Sinews of Peace" speech at Westminster College here 70 years ago.

"The opponent is now us," said Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, president of Westminster College, where Churchill delivered what is often called the "Iron Curtain" speech on March 5, 1946. "We are now the enemy. We are the enemies against each other, and it is exacerbated by the fact that we're not talking to each other, we're not engaged with each other, and not listening to each other."

Akande said that behavior counters the principals established by Churchill, British Prime Minister from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955, who encouraged bold ideas, open dialogue, and diplomacy with allies and adversaries alike.

Churchill's use of the phrase "Iron Curtain" in his speech at Westminster College popularized the term around the globe and created a mental image about the threat of Soviet expansion following World War II, according to Timothy Riley, curator of the National Churchill Museum on the campus of Westminster College.

He added that Churchill's speech, given as a private citizen at the invitation of then-President Harry Truman who also attended, initiated what came to be called the "Cold War," a political and military stand-off between communist Eastern bloc countries and democratic Western bloc nations.

The Cold War lasted until the late 1980s, when Soviet communism collapsed during the tenure of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who later spoke at Westminster College in May 1992.

The lesson for 21st Century Americans, Riley said, is that political leaders today are "too quick to create barriers within our own boundaries that separate Americans politically and ideologically, when they should be tearing down walls and creating peaceful solutions, as Churchill espoused."

Akande said Churchill believed in the "value of conversation, exchanging bold ideas face-to-face, building coalitions, and challenging others to think about the consequences of their actions," he said. "Today, our politicians are not talking with each other, but at each other."

He said he hopes all American leaders would gain perspective from Winston Churchill, and provide new ideas that bring Americans together, "not tear us apart."

To help commemorate the 70th anniversary, Westminster and the National Churchill Museum are inviting the public to tour the National Churchill Museum free of charge on Saturday, March 5. It is the only North American institution fully devoted to immortalizing the life and work of Winston Churchill.  Local HAM radio operators – using the "handle" WOW -- also will be on campus transmitting messages worldwide to commemorate this special anniversary.

SOURCE Westminster College