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David Ben-Gurion

Part Washington, part Moses, he was the

architect of a new nation state that altered the
destiny of the Jewish people — and the Middle

Monday, April 13, 1998

Ever since he was a frail child in 1906. Inspired by a Hebrew- years later, Ben-Gurion, who
with a disproportionately big Zionist upbringing, shocked by was urged by some countrymen
head, David Ben-Gurion was anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern to "suspend" democracy more
always clear about his next Europe, he went to Turkish than once, refused to do so.
move, about the Jewish people's Palestine "to build it and be After World War I he returned
destination, about the link rebuilt by it," as was the motto to Palestine, now governed by
between his steps and the of those days. He became a Britain and — after 1920 —
deliverance of the Jews in their pioneer, a farmhand, active with designated by the League of
biblical homeland. early Zionist-socialist groups. Nations as a "National Home"
At age 19 he was what he would
Ben-Gurion ached to be an for the Jewish people. He rose
remain all his life: a secular
intellectual; during the most to prominence in the growing
Jewish nationalist who
dramatic years of his leadership, Zionist-socialist movement. The
combined Jewish Messianic
he gulped philosophy books, increasing anti-Semitism in
visions with socialist ideals, a
commented on the Bible, flirted Europe during the 1920s and
man with fierce ambition for
with Buddhism, even taught '30s sent waves of Jewish
leadership, extraordinary
himself ancient Greek in order immigrants into the country.
tactical-political skills and a
to read Plato in the original; he Furious Arab leaders launched a
sarcastic edge rather than a
had a relentless curiosity about rebellion against the British and
sense of humor.
the natural sciences (but no taste a holy war on the Jews. Much
for fiction or the fine arts). He In 1915 Ben-Gurion, expelled earlier than others, Ben-Gurion
would quote Spinoza as if from Palestine for his recognized the depth and
throwing rocks at a rival. Verbal nationalist and socialist rationale of Arab objection to
battle, not dialogue, was his activities, chose to go to New Zionism: he was aware of the
habitual mode of York City, where he hastily tragic nature of a clash between
communication. Rather than a taught himself English and two genuine claims to the same
philosopher, he was a walking plunged head on into land. His position on this can be
exclamation mark, a tight, perpetrating the local Zionist- described neither as hawkish
craggy man with a halo of socialist movement. Yet his nor dovish: he saw the creation
silvery hair and a jawbone that authoritative, almost despotic of an independent homeland for
projected awesome willpower character and his enchantment the homeless Jewish people as,
and a volcanic temper. with Lenin's revolution and first and foremost, a crucial
leadership style were tempered provision for the survival of
He came from the depressed
during his three years in the persecuted Jews. At the cost of
depths of small-town Polish-
U.S. by the impact American being labeled a traitor (by
Jewish life, which he left behind
democracy left on him. Many extremists on the right) and an
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opportunist (by the dogmatic doomsday predictions by some Between 1949 and 1956, Arab
left), he was ready to go a long of his closest associates. Within states drew Israel into a cycle of
way to accommodate the Arabs. hours, military forces of five guerrilla attacks and retaliatory
Yet he was one of the first to Arab nations invaded Israel, raids. In 1956 Ben-Gurion,
foresee that in order for the joining Palestinian militias in an aware of an Egyptian military
Jews to avoid a showdown with openly declared attempt to buildup, escalated the conflict
the Arabs or to survive such a destroy the Jews. It was the by storming the Sinai peninsula.
showdown, they must set up a worst of several Israeli-Arab The operation was coordinated
shadow state and a shadow wars: 1% of the Jewish with a French-British assault on
military force. population died, as well as Egypt. To Arabs, this was
thousands of Arabs. More than further proof of Israel as a tool
Ben-Gurion was the great
half a million Palestinians lost of imperialism. To Israelis, this
architect and builder of both.
their homes; some fled, some was Ben-Gurion's way of
Throughout the tragic years
were driven out by Israeli securing 11 relatively peaceful
from 1936 to 1947, while
forces. years.
millions of Jews were rounded
up and murdered by the Ben-Gurion's iron-will The swift military victory in the
Germans, denied asylum by leadership during the fateful 1 Six-Day War of 1967 evoked
almost all nations and barred by 1/2 years of that touch-and-go unruly territorial appetites and
the British from finding a home war turned him from "first an obsession with holy sites.
in Palestine, he subtly among equals" in the Zionist The Old Man, well into his 80s,
orchestrated a complex strategy: leadership into a modern-day raised his voice for the last time.
he inspired tens of thousands of King David. The crux of his Keep Jerusalem undivided, he
young Jews from Palestine to leadership was a lifelong, partly said, but otherwise we must
join the British army in fighting successful struggle to transplant suppress our yearnings for the
the Nazis, but at the same time a tradition of binding majority newly gained regions; we must
authorized an underground rule in a painfully divided relinquish them in return for
agency to ship Jewish refugees Jewish society that for peace. The October War of
into the country. As the British thousands of years had not 1973 came as a nemesis, a harsh
were intercepting, deporting and experienced any form of self- slap of reality, undoing the post-
locking away these survivors of rule, not even a central spiritual 1967 Israeli arrogance and
the Nazi inferno in barbed- authority. In the early years of moral callousness. Ben-Gurion
wired detention camps, world the state, many Israelis saw him died a few weeks after that war,
opinion grew more and more as a combination of Moses, while a wounded, deflated Israel
sympathetic to the Zionist George Washington, Garibaldi was mourning its heavy losses
prescription for the plight of the and God Almighty. In admirers and entering a long period of
Jews. This strategy helped bring as well as vehement opponents, soul searching.
about the favorable atmosphere Ben-Gurion's wrathful-father Can this identity crisis be traced
that led to the 1947 U.N. personality evoked strong back to Ben-Gurion and the
resolution, partitioning Palestine emotions: awe, anger, founding mothers and fathers of
into a Jewish state and an Arab admiration, resentment. When I Israel? Were they no more than
state. first met him in 1959, I was a bunch of lunatics, attempting
mesmerized by his physical
But even before the British left, to perform on a 20th century
intensity: he was a mercurial
attacks on Jews were unleashed stage a bizarre blend of biblical
man, almost violently vivacious.
all over the country. On May yearnings, 19th century
There was a fistlike tightness to
14, 1948, in accordance with the nationalism, socialism and
his argument: bold, peasant-
U.N. resolution, Ben-Gurion Jewish Messianism? Did Ben-
simple, piercing, seductively
proclaimed Israel's Gurion, at the end of the day,
warm and, for one or two
independence, ignoring last- devote his life to a fleeting,
gracious moments, revealing his
minute admonitions from surreal vision of resurrecting the
cheerful, childlike curiosity.
Washington and overruling Jewish people as a modern,
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democratic nation in their
ancient land?
The dream is a reality now —
albeit a flawed, disappointing
reality. Perhaps it is in the
nature of dreams and visions to
remain magnificently flawless
only for as long as they are
unfulfilled. Ben-Gurion always
wanted Israel to become a
"Light unto the Nations," an
exemplary polity abiding by the
highest moral standards. He
himself, and his Israel, could
hardly live up to such
expectations. But he was, to
borrow a literary term, a
fantastic realist who gave his
people an elemental, Old
Testament leadership during the
most fateful half-century in
their history.

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Winston Churchill

The master statesman stood alone against fascism and

renewed the world's faith in the superiority of

Monday, April 13, 1998
The political history of the 20th between 1895 and 1898 failed. His motives were
century can be written as the managed to see three twofold. His father had despised
biographies of six men: Lenin, campaigns: Spain's struggle in him. Writing in August 1893 to
Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Cuba in 1895, the North-West Winston's grandmother, the
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Frontier campaign in India 1897 dowager Duchess of
Churchill. The first four were and the Sudan campaign of Marlborough, he said the boy
totalitarians who made or used 1898, where he took part in lacked "cleverness, knowledge
revolutions to create monstrous what is often described as the and any capacity for settled
dictatorships. Roosevelt and British Army's last cavalry work. He has a great talent for
Churchill differed from them in charge, at Omdurman. Even at show-off, exaggeration and
being democrats. And Churchill 24, Churchill was steely: "I make-believe." His disapproval
differed from Roosevelt — never felt the slightest surely stung, but Churchill
while both were war leaders, nervousness," he wrote to his reacted by venerating his
Churchill was uniquely stirred mother. "[I] felt as cool as I do father's memory. Winston
by the challenge of war and now." In Cuba he was present fought to restore his father's
found his fulfillment in leading as a war correspondent, and in honor in Parliament (where it
the democracies to victory. India and the Sudan he was had been dented by the
present both as a war Conservative Party). Thirty
Churchill came of a military
correspondent and as a serving years after Lord Randolph's
dynasty. His ancestor John
officer. Thus he revealed two death, Winston wrote, "All my
Churchill had been created first
other aspects of his character: a dreams of comradeship were
Duke of Marlborough in 1702
literary bent and an interest in ended. There remained for me
for his victories against Louis
public affairs. only to pursue his aims and
XIV early in the War of the
vindicate his memory."
Spanish Succession. Churchill He was to write all his life. His
was born in 1874 in Blenheim life of Marlborough is one of Churchill entered Parliament in
Palace, the house built by the the great English biographies, 1901 at age 26. In 1904 he left
nation for Marlborough. As a and The History of the Second the Conservative Party to join
young man of undistinguished World War helped win him a the Liberals, in part out of
academic accomplishment — he Nobel Prize for literature. calculation: the Liberals were
was admitted to Sandhurst after Writing, however, never fully the coming party, and in its
two failed attempts — he engaged his energies. Politics ranks he soon achieved high
entered the army as a cavalry consumed him. His father Lord office. He became Home
officer. He took enthusiastically Randolph Churchill was a Secretary in 1910 and First Lord
to soldiering (and perhaps even brilliant political failure. Early of the Admiralty in 1911. Thus
more enthusiastically to in life, Winston determined to it was as political head of the
regimental polo playing) and succeed where his father had Royal Navy at the outbreak of
the First World War in 1914 entered what appeared to be a constant German air attack. He
that he stepped onto the world terminal political decline. nevertheless re fused Hitler's
stage. offers of peace, organized a
Churchill was truly a romantic,
successful air defense that led to
A passionate believer in the but also truly a democrat. He
the victory of the Battle of
navy's historic strategic role, he had returned to the gold
Britain and meanwhile sent
immediately committed the standard, for instance, because
most of what remained of the
Royal Naval Division to an he cherished, for romantic
British army, after its escape
intervention in the Flanders reasons, Britain's status as a
from the humiliation of
campaign in 1914. Frustrated by great financial power. He had
Dunkirk, to the Middle East to
the stalemate in Belgium and opposed limited self-
oppos e Hitler's Italian ally,
France that followed, he government for India becaus e
initiated the Allies' only major he cherished, for equally
effort to outflank the Germans romantic reasons, Britain's This was one of the boldest
on the Western Front by imperial history. It was to prove strategic decisions in history.
sending the navy, and later a more important that as a Convinced that Hitler could not
large force of the army, to the democrat, he was disgusted by invade Britain while the Royal
Mediterranean. At Gallipoli in the rise of totalitarian systems in Navy and its protecting Royal
1915, this Anglo-French force Europe. In 1935 he warned the Air Force remained intact, he
struggled to break the defenses House of Commons of the dispatched the army to a remote
that blocked access to the Black importance not only of "self- theater of war to open a second
Sea. It was a heroic failure that preservation but also of the front against the Nazi alliance.
forced Churchill's resignation human and the world cause of Its victories against Mussolini
and led to his political eclipse. the preservation of free during 1940-41 both humiliated
governments and of Western and infuriated Hitler, while its
It was effectively to last nearly
civilization against the ever intervention in Greece, to
25 years. Despite his
advancing sources of authority oppose Hitler's invasion of the
readmission to office in 1917,
and despotism." His anti- Balkans, disrupted the Nazi
after a spell commanding an
Bolshevik policies had failed. dictator's plans to conclude
infantry battalion on the
By espousing anti-N azi policies German conquests in Europe by
Western Front, he failed to re-
in his wilderness years between defeating Russia.
establish the reputation as a
1933 and 1939, he ensured that
future national statesman he had Churchill's tendency to conduct
when the moment of final
won before the war. Dispirited, strategy by impulse infuriated
confrontation between Britain
he chose the issue of the Liberal his advisers. His chief of staff
and Hitler came in 1940, he
Party's support for the first Alan Brooke complained that
stood out as the one man in
government formed by the every day Churchill had 10
whom the nation could place its
Labour Party in 1924 to rejoin ideas, only one of which was
trust. He had decried the prewar
the Conservatives, after a spell good — and he did not know
app easement policies of the
when he had been out of which one. Yet Churchill the
Conservative leaders Baldwin
Parliament altogether. The romantic showed acute realism
and Chamberlain. When
Conservative Prime Minister in his reaction to Russia's
Chamberlain lost the confidence
appointed Churchill Chancellor predicament. He reviled
of Parliament, Churchill was
of the Exchequer, but when he communism. Required to accept
installed in the premiership.
returned the country to the gold a communist ally in a struggle
standard, it proved financially His was a bleak inheritance. against a Nazi enemy, he did so
disastrous, and he further Following the total defeat of not only willingly but
weakened his political position France, Britain truly, in his generously. He sent a large
by opposing measures to grant words, "stood alone." It had no proportion of Britain's war
India limited self-government. substantial allies and, for much production to Russia by Arctic
He resigned office i n 1931 and of 1940, lay under threat of convoys, even at a time when
German invasion and under the convoys from America to
Britain, which alone spared the however, that dominated the
country starvation, suffered alliance, as he ruefully
devastating U-boat attacks. recognized at the last Big Three
conference in February 1945.
From the outset of his
Shortly afterward he suffered
premiership, Churchill, half
the domestic humiliation of
American by birth, had rested
losing the general election and
his hope of ultimate victory in
with it the premiership. He was
U.S. intervention. He had
to return to power in 1951 and
established a personal
remain until April 1955, when
relationship with President
ill health and visibly failing
Roosevelt that he hoped would
powers caused him to resign.
flower into a war-winning
alliance. Roosevelt's reluctance It would have been kinder to his
to commit the U.S. beyond an reputation had he not returned.
association "short of war" did He was not an effective
not dent his optimism. He peacetime Prime Minister. His
always hoped events would name had been made, and he
work his way. The decision by stood unchallengeable, as the
Japan, Hitler's ally, to attack the greatest of all Britain's war
American Pacific fleet at Pearl leaders. It was not only his own
Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, country, though, that owed him
justified his hopes. That evening a debt. So too did the world of
he confided to himself, "So we free men and women to whom
had won after all." he had made a constant and
inclusive appeal in his
America's entry into the Second
magnificent speeches from
World War marked the high
embattled Britain in 1940 and
point of Churchill's
1941. Churchill did not merely
statesmanship. Britain,
hate tyranny, he despised it. The
demographically, industrially
contempt he breathed for
and financially, had entered the
dictators — renewed in his Iron
war weaker than either of its
Curtain speech at Fulton, Mo.,
eventual allies, the Soviet Union
at the outset of the cold war —
and the U.S. Defeats in 1940
strengthened the West's faith in
had weakened it further, as had
the moral superiority of
the liquidation of its
democracy and the inevitability
international investments to
of its triumph.
fund its early war efforts.
During 1942, the prestige
Britain had won as Hitler's only
enemy allowed Churchill to
sustain parity of leadership in
the anti-Nazi alliance with
Roosevelt and Stalin.
Churchill understandably
exulted in the success of the D-
day invasion when it came in
1944. By then it was the Russo-
American rather than the
Anglo-American nexus,
Mohandas Gandhi

His philosophy of nonviolence and his passion for

independence began a drive for freedom that
doomed colonialism

Monday, April 13, 1998
A thin Indian man with not opponent of modernity and borrowed, used, distorted,
much hair sits alone on a bare technology, preferring the reinvented to fit many different
floor, wearing nothing but a pencil to the typewriter, the purposes, and to the devil with
loincloth and a pair of cheap loincloth to the business suit, historicity or truth. Richard
spectacles, studying the clutch the plowed field to the belching Attenborough's much-Oscared
of handwritten notes in his manufactory. Had the word movie Gandhi struck me, when
hand. The black-and-white processor been invented in his it was first released, as an
photograph takes up a full page lifetime, he would almost example of this type of
in the newspaper. In the top left- certainly have found it unhistorical Western
hand corner of the page, in full abhorrent. The very term word saintmaking. Here was Gandhi-
color, is a small rainbow-striped processor, with its overly as-guru, purveying that
apple. Below this, there's a technological ring, is unlikely to fashionable product, the
slangily American injunction to have found favor. Wisdom of the East; and
"Think Different." Such is the Gandhi-as-Christ, dying (and,
"Think Different." Gandhi, in
present-day power of before that, frequently going on
his younger days a sophisticated
international Big Business. hunger strike) so that others
and Westernized lawyer, did
Even the greatest of the dead might live. His philosophy of
indeed change his thinking
may summarily be drafted into nonviolence seemed to work by
more radically than most people
its image ad campaigns. Once, a embarrassing the British into
do. Ghanshyam Das Birla, one
half-century ago, this bony man leaving; freedom could be won,
of the merchant princes who
shaped a nation's struggle for the film appeared to suggest, by
backed him, once said, "He was
freedom. But that, as they say, being more moral than your
more modern than I. But he
is history. Now Gandhi is oppressor, whose moral code
made a conscious decision to go
modeling for Apple. His could then oblige him to
back to the Middle Ages." This
thoughts don't really count in withdraw.
is not, presumably, the
this new incarnation. What revolutionary new direction in But such is the efficacy of this
counts is that he is considered to thought that the good folks at symbolic Gandhi that the film,
be "on message," in line with Apple are seeking to encourage. for all its simplifications and
the corporate philosophy of Hollywoodizations, had a
Apple. Gandhi today is up for grabs.
powerful and positive effect on
He has become abstract,
The advertisement is odd many contemporary freedom
ahistorical, postmodern, no
enough to be worth dissecting a struggles. South African
longer a man in and of his time
little. Obviously it is rich in antiapartheid campaigners and
but a freeloading concept, a part
unintentional comedy. M.K. democratic voices all over
of the available stock of cultural
Gandhi, as the photograph itself South America have enthused to
symbols, an image that can be
demonstrates, was a passionate me about the film's galvanizing
effects. This posthumous, withdrawal, under pressure love to his wife Kasturba at the
exalted "international Gandhi" from Jawaharlal Nehru and moment of his father's death,
has apparently become a totem Vallabhbhai Patel, of a last- Gandhi later forswore sexual
of real inspirational force. ditch offer to Jinnah of the relations but went on into his
prime ministership itself, ended old age with what he called his
The trouble with the idealized
the last faint chance of avoiding "brahmacharya experiments,"
Gandhi is that he's so darned
partition.) during which naked young
dull, little more than a dispenser
women would be asked to lie
of homilies and nostrums ("An He was determined to live his
with him all night so that he
eye for an eye will make the life as an ascetic, but, as the
could prove that he had
whole world go blind") with poet Sarojini Naidu joked, it
mastered his physical urges. (He
just the odd flash of wit (asked cost the nation a fortune to keep
believed that total control over
what he thought of Western Gandhi living in poverty. His
his "vital fluids" would enhance
civilization, he gave the entire philosophy privileged the
his spiritual powers.)
celebrated reply, "I think it village way over that of the city,
would be a great idea"). The yet he was always financially He, and he alone, was
real man, if it is still possible to dependent on the support of responsible for the
use such a term after the industrial billionaires like Birla. transformation of the demand
generations of hagiography and His hunger strikes could stop for independence into a
reinvention, was infinitely more riots and massacres, but he also nationwide mass movement that
interesting, one of the most once went on a hunger strike to mobilized every class of society
complex and contradictory force one of his capitalist against the imperialist, yet the
personalities of the century. His patrons' employees to break free India that came into being,
full name, Mohandas their strike against the harsh divided and committed to a
Karamchand Gandhi, was conditions of employment. He program of modernization and
memorably — and literally — sought to improve the industrialization, was not the
translated into English by the conditions of the untouchables, India of his dreams. His
novelist G.V. Desani as yet in today's India, these sometime disciple, Nehru, was
"Action-Slave Fascination- peoples, now calling themselves the archproponent of
Moon Grocer," and he was as Dalits and forming an modernization, and it was
rich and devious a figure as that increasingly well-organized and Nehru's vision, not Gandhi's,
glorious name suggests. effective political grouping, that was eventually-- and
have rallied around the memory perhaps inevitably — preferred.
Entirely unafraid of the British,
of their own leader, Bhimrao
he was nevertheless afraid of Gandhi began by believing that
Ramji Ambedkar, an old rival
the dark, and always slept with the politics of passive resistance
of Gandhi's. As Ambedkar's star
a light burning by his bedside. and nonviolence should be
has risen among the Dalits, so
He believed passionately in the effective in any situation, at any
Gandhi's stature has been
unity of all the peoples of India, time, even against a force as
reduced. The creator of the
yet his failure to keep the malign as Nazi Germany. Later,
political philosophies of passive
Muslim leader Mohammed Ali he was obliged to revise his
resistance and constructive
Jinnah within the Indian opinion, and concluded that
nonviolence, he spent much of
National Congress's fold led to while the British had responded
his life far from the political
the partition of the country. (For to such techniques because of
arena, refining his more
all his vaunted selflessness and their own nature, other
eccentric theories of
modesty, he made no move to oppressors might not.
vegetarianism, bowel
object when Jinnah was
movements and the beneficial Gandhian nonviolence is widely
attacked during a Congress
properties of human excrement. believed to be the method by
session for calling him "Mr. which India gained
Gandhi" instead of "Mahatma," Forever scarred by the independence. (The view is
and booed off the stage by knowledge that, as a 16-year- assiduously fostered inside
Gandhi's supporters. Later, his old youth, he'd been making
India as well as outside it.) Yet the shared body of ancient message is better heeded
the Indian revolution did indeed narratives. "He turned to the outside India. Albert Einstein
become violent, and this legends and stories from India's was one of many to praise
violence so disappointed popular religious traditions, Gandhi's achievement; Martin
Gandhi that he stayed away preferring their lessons to the Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama
from the independence supposed ones of history." and all the world's peace
celebrations in protest. movements have followed in his
It didn't work. In today's India,
Moreover, the ruinous footsteps. Gandhi, who gave up
Hindu nationalism is rampant in
economic impact of World War cosmopolitanism to gain a
the form of Bharatiya Janata
II on Britain, and — as British country, has become, in his
Party. During the recent
writer Patrick French says in his strange afterlife, a citizen of the
elections, Gandhi and his ideas
book Liberty or Death: India's world: his spirit may yet prove
have scarcely been mentioned.
Journey to Independence and resilient, smart, tough, sneaky
Twenty-one years ago, the
Division — the gradual collapse and, yes, ethical enough to
writer Ved Mehta spoke to one
of the Raj's bureaucratic hold avoid assimilation by global
of Gandhi's leading political
over India from the mid-'30s McCulture (and Mac culture
associates, a former Governor-
onward did as much to bring too). Against this new empire,
General of independent India,
about freedom as any action of Gandhian intelligence is a better
C. Rajagopalachari. His verdict
Gandhi's. It is probable, in fact, weapon than Gandhian piety.
on Gandhi's legacy is
that Gandhian techniques were And passive resistance? We'll
disenchanted, but in today's
not the key determinants of see.
India, on the fast track to free-
India's arrival at freedom. They market capitalism, it still rings
gave independence its outward true: "The glamour of modern
character and were its apparent technology, money and power is
cause, but darker and deeper so seductive that no one — I
historical forces produced the mean no one — can resist it.
desired effect. The handful of Gandhians who
These days, few people pause to still believe in his philosophy of
consider the complex character a simple life in a simple society
of Gandhi's personality, the are mostly cranks."
ambiguous nature of his What, then, is greatness? In
achievement and legacy, or what does it reside? If a man's
even the real causes of Indian project fails, or survives only in
independence. These are irredeemably tarnished form,
hurried, sloganizing times, and can the force of his example
we don't have the time or, still merit the extreme accolade?
worse, the inclination to For Jawaharlal Nehru, the
assimilate many-sided truths. defining image of Gandhi was
The harshest truth of all is that "as I saw him marching, staff in
Gandhi is increasingly hand, to Dandi on the Salt
irrelevant in the country whose March in 1930. Here was the
"little father" — Bapu — he pilgrim on his quest of Truth,
was. As the analyst Sunil quiet, peaceful, determined and
Khilnani has pointed out, India fearless, who would continue
came into being as a secularized that quest and pilgrimage,
state, but Gandhi's vision was regardless of consequences."
essentially religious. However, Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi
he "recoiled" from Hindu later said, "More than his
nationalism. His solution was to words, his life was his
forge an Indian identity out of message." These days, that
Martin Luther King

He led a mass struggle for racial equality that

doomed segregation and changed America forever


Monday, April 13, 1998

It is a testament to the greatness America's standing among on juries. They could not eat at
of Martin Luther King Jr. that nations. How could America lunch counters, register in
nearly every major city in the have convincingly inveighed motels or use whites-only rest
U.S. has a street or school against the Iron Curtain while rooms; they could not buy or
named after him. It is a measure an equally oppressive Cotton rent a home wherever they
of how sorely his achievements Curtain remained draped across chose. In some rural enclaves in
are misunderstood that most of the South? the South, they were even
them are located in black compelled to get off the
Even after the Supreme Court
neighborhoods. sidewalk and stand in the street
struck down segregation in
if a Caucasian walked by.
Three decades after King was 1954, what the world now calls
gunned down on a motel human-rights offenses were The movement that King led
balcony in Memphis, Tenn., he both law and custom in much of swept all that away. Its victory
is still regarded mainly as the America. Before King and his was so complete that even
black leader of a movement for movement, a tired and though those outrages took
black equality. That assessment, thoroughly respectable Negro place within the living memory
while accurate, is far too seamstress like Rosa Parks of the baby boomers, they seem
restrictive. For all King did to could be thrown into jail and like ancient history. And though
free blacks from the yoke of fined simply because she this revolution was the product
segregation, whites may owe refused to give up her seat on an of two centuries of agitation by
him the greatest debt, for Alabama bus so a white man thousands upon thousands of
liberating them from the burden could sit down. A six-year-old courageous men and women,
of America's centuries-old black girl like Ruby Bridges King was its culmination. It is
hypocrisy about race. It is only could be hectored and spit on by impossible to think of the
because of King and the a white New Orleans mob movement unfolding as it did
movement that he led that the simply because she wanted to without him at its helm. He was,
U.S. can claim to be the leader go to the same school as white as the cliche has it, the right
of the "free world" without children. A 14-year-old black man at the right time.
inviting smirks of disdain and boy like Emmett Till could be To begin with, King was a
disbelief. Had he and the blacks hunted down and murdered by a preacher who spoke in biblical
and whites who marched beside Mississippi gang simply cadences ideally suited to
him failed, vast regions of the because he had supposedly leading a stride toward freedom
U.S. would have remained made suggestive remarks to a that found its inspiration in the
morally indistinguishable from white woman. Even highly Old Testament story of the
South Africa under apartheid, educated blacks were routinely Israelites and the New
with terrible consequences for denied the right to vote or serve Testament gospel of Jesus
Christ. Being a minister not judged by the color of their skin
only put King in touch with the but by the content of their
spirit of the black masses but character"—has been put to
also gave him a base within the uses he would never have
black church, then and now the endorsed. It has become the
strongest and most independent slogan for opponents of
of black institutions. affirmative action like
California's Ward Connerly,
Moreover, King was a man of
who insist, incredibly, that had
extraordinary physical courage
King lived he would have been
whose belief in nonviolence
marching alongside them.
never swerved. From the time
Connerly even chose King's
he assumed leadership of the
birthday last year to announce
Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott
the creation of his nationwide
in 1955 to his murder 13 years
crusade against "racial
later, he faced hundreds of
death threats. His home in
Montgomery was bombed, with Such would-be kidnappers of
his wife and young children King's legacy have chosen a
inside. He was hounded by J. highly selective interpretation of
Edgar Hoover's FBI, which his message. They have filtered
bugged his telephone and hotel out his radicalism and sense of
rooms, circulated salacious urgency. That most famous
gossip about him and even tried speech was studded with
to force him into committing demands. "We have come to our
suicide after he won the Nobel nation's capital to cash a check,"
Peace Prize in 1964. As King King admonished. "When the
told the story, the defining architects of our Republic wrote
moment of his life came during the magnificent words of the
the early days of the bus Constitution and the Declaration
boycott. A threatening of Independence, they were
telephone call at midnight signing a promissory note to
alarmed him: "Nigger, we are which every American was to
tired of you and your mess now. fall heir," King said. "Instead of
And if you aren't out of this honoring this sacred obligation,
town in three days, we're going America has given the Negro
to blow your brains out and people a bad check; a check
blow up your house." Shaken, which has come back marked
King went to the kitchen to 'insufficient funds.' " These
pray. "I could hear an inner were not the words of a
voice saying to me, 'Martin cardboard saint advocating a
Luther, stand up for Hallmark card-style version of
righteousness. Stand up for brotherhood. They were the
justice. Stand up for truth. And stinging phrases of a prophet, a
lo I will be with you, even until man demanding justice not just
the end of the world.'" in the hereafter, but in the here
and now.
In recent years, however, King's
most quoted line—"I have a
dream that my four little
children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be
Margaret Thatcher

Champion of free minds and markets, she

helped topple the welfare state and make the
world safer for capitalism


Monday, April 13, 1998

She was the catalyst who set in "statutory woman's" place in the her an enduring leader: open
motion a series of Cabinet as Education Minister, markets, vigorous debate and
interconnected events that gave and that looked like the summit loyal alliances. Among her first
a revolutionary twist to the of her career. But Thatcher was, fights: a struggle against
century's last two decades and and is, notoriously lucky. Her Britain's out-of-control trade
helped mankind end the case is awesome testimony to unions, which had destroyed
millennium on a note of hope the importance of sheer chance three governments in
and confidence. The triumph of in history. In 1975 she succession. Thatcher turned the
capitalism, the almost universal challenged Edward Heath for nation's anti-union feeling into a
acceptance of the market as the Tory leadership simply handsome parliamentary
indispensable to prosperity, the because the candidate of the majority and a mandate to
collapse of Soviet imperialism, party's right wing abandoned restrict union privileges by a
the downsizing of the state on the contest at the last minute. series of laws that effectively
nearly every continent and in Thatcher stepped into the ended Britain's trade-union
almost every country in the breach. When she went into problem once and for all. "Who
world — Margaret Thatcher Heath's office to tell him her governs Britain?" she famously
played a part in all those decision, he did not even bother asked as unions struggled for
transformations, and it is not to look up. "You'll lose," he power. By 1980, everyone knew
easy to see how any would have said. "Good day to you." the answer: Thatcher governs.
occurred without her. But as Victor Hugo put it, Once the union citadel had been
Born in 1925, Margaret Hilda nothing is so powerful as "an stormed, Thatcher quickly
Roberts was an enormously idea whose time has come." discovered that every area of the
industrious girl. The daughter of And by the mid-'70s enough economy was open to judicious
a Grantham shopkeeper, she Tories were fed up with Heath reform. Even as the rest of
studied on scholarship, worked and "the Ratchet Effect" — the Europe toyed with socialism
her way to Oxford and took two way in which each statist and state ownership, she set
degrees, in chemistry and law. advance was accepted by the about privatizing the
Her fascination with politics led Conservatives and then became nationalized industries, which
her into Parliament at age 34, a platform for a further statist had been hitherto sacrosanct, no
when she argued her way into advance. matter how inefficient. It
one of the best Tory seats in the worked. British Airways, an
She chose her issues carefully
country, Finchley in north embarrassingly slovenly
— and, it emerged, luckily. The
London. Her quick mind (and national carrier that very seldom
legal duels she took on early in
faster mouth) led her up through showed a profit, was privatized
her tenure as Prime Minister
the Tory ranks, and by age 44 and transformed into one of the
sounded the themes that made
she got settled into the world's best and most profitable
airlines. British Steel, which and perseverance, were cardinal clear that Thatcher has an
lost more than a billion pounds virtues to her, which she important place in this huge
in its final years as a state possessed in the highest degree. event.
concern, became the largest People from all over the world It was the beginning of a new
steel company in Europe. began to look at her methods historical epoch. All the forces
and achievements closely, and
By the mid-1980s, privatization that had made the 20th century
to seek to imitate them.
was a new term in world such a violent disappointment to
government, and by the end of One of her earliest admirers was idealists--totalitarianism, the
the decade more than 50 Ronald Reagan, who achieved gigantic state, the crushing of
countries, on almost every power 18 months after she did. individual choice and
continent, had set in motion He too began to reverse the initiative--were publicly and
privatization programs, floating Ratchet Effect in the U.S. by spectacularly defeated.
loss-making public companies effective deregulation, tax Ascendant instead were the
on the stock markets and in cutting and opening up wider values that Thatcher had
most cases transforming them market opportunities for free supported in the face of
into successful private- enterprise. Reagan liked to sometimes spectacular
enterprise firms. Even left- listen to Thatcher's various opposition: free markets and
oriented countries, which lectures on the virtues of the free minds. The world enters the
scorned the notion of market or the minimal state. "I'll 21st century and the 3rd
privatization, began to reduce remember that, Margaret," he millennium a wiser place,
their public sector on the sly. said. She listened carefully to owing in no small part to the
Governments sent his jokes, tried to get the point daughter of a small shopkeeper,
administrative and legal teams and laughed in the right places. who proved that nothing is more
to Britain to study how it was effective than willpower allied
They turned their mutual
done. It was perhaps Britain's to a few clear, simple and
affection into a potent foreign
biggest contribution to practical workable ideas.
policy partnership. With Reagan
economics in the world since and Thatcher in power, the
J.M. Keynes invented application of judicious pressure
"Keynesianism," or even Adam on the Soviet state to encourage
Smith published The Wealth of it to reform or abolish itself, or
Nations. to implode, became an
But Thatcher became a world admissible policy. Thatcher
figure for more than just her warmly encouraged Reagan to
politics. She combined a rearm and thereby bring Russia
flamboyant willpower with to the negotiating table. She
evident femininity. It attracted shared his view that Moscow
universal attention, especially ruled an "evil empire," and the
after she led Britain to a sooner it was dismantled the
spectacular military victory over better. Together with Reagan
Argentina in 1982. She she pushed Mikhail Gorbachev
understood that politicians had to pursue his perestroika policy
to give military people clear to its limits and so fatally to
orders about ends, then leave undermine the self-confidence
them to get on with the means. of the Soviet elite.
Still, she could not bear to lose Historians will argue hotly
men, ships or planes. "That's about the precise role played by
why we have extra ships and the various actors who brought
planes," the admirals had to tell about the end of Soviet
her, "to make good the losses." communism. But it is already
Fidelity, like courage, loyalty
Nelson Mandela

As the world's most famous prisoner and, now,

his country's leader, he exemplifies a moral
integrity that shines far beyond South Africa


Monday, April 13, 1998

In a recent television broadcast school teacher with delusions of country in which centuries of
BBC commentator Brian imperial splendor. colonial rule had concentrated
Walden argued that Nelson all political and military power,
Mandela's boyhood was
Mandela, "perhaps the most all access to education, and
peaceful enough, spent on cattle
generally admired figure of our most of the wealth in the hands
herding and other rural pursuits,
age, falls short of the giants of of the white minority. The
until the death of his father
the past." Mandela himself classic conditions for a
landed him in the care of a
argues that "I was not a successful revolution were
powerful relative, the acting
messiah, but an ordinary man almost wholly absent: the great
regent of the Thembu people.
who had become a leader mass of have-nots had been
But it was only after he left the
because of extraordinary humbled into docile collusion,
missionary College of Fort
circumstances." Clearly, a the geographic expanse of the
Hare, where he had become
changing world demands country hampered
involved in student protests
redefinition of old concepts. communication and mobility,
against the white colonial rule
and the prospects of a race war
In the revolution led by of the institution, that he set out
were not only unrealistic but
Mandela to transform a model on the long walk toward
also horrendous.
of racial division and personal and national liberation.
oppression into an open In these circumstances Mandela
Having run away from his
democracy, he demonstrated opted for nonviolence as a
guardian to avoid an arranged
that he didn't flinch from taking strategy. He joined the Youth
marriage, he joined a law firm
up arms, but his real qualities League of the African National
in Johannesburg as an
came to the fore after his time Congress and became involved
apprentice. Years of daily
as an activist — during his 27 in programs of passive
exposure to the inhumanities of
years in prison and in the eight resistance against the laws that
apartheid, where being black
years since his release, when he forced blacks to carry passes
reduced one to the status of a
had to negotiate the challenge of and kept them in a position of
nonperson, kindled in him a
turning a myth into a man. permanent servility.
kind of absurd courage to
Rolihlahla Mandela was born change the world. It meant that Exasperated, the government
deep in the black homeland of instead of the easy life in a rural mounted a massive treason trial
Transkei on July 18, 1918. His setting he'd been brought up for, against its main opponents,
first name could be interpreted, or even a modest measure of Mandela among them. It
prophetically, as success as a lawyer, his only dragged on for five years, until
"troublemaker." The Nelson future certainties would be 1961, ending in the acquittal of
was added later, by a primary sacrifice and suffering, with all 156 accused. But by that
little hope of success in a time the country had been
convulsed by the massacre of arrival, two years before, he had After more than two decades in
peaceful black demonstrators at set an example by refusing to prison, confident that on some
Sharpeville in March 1960, and obey an order to jog from the crucial issues a leader must
the government was intent on harbor, where the ferry docked, make decisions on his own,
crushing all opposition. Most to the prison gates. The warden Mandela decided on a new
liberation movements, including in charge warned him bluntly approach. And after painstaking
the A.N.C., were banned. that unless he started obeying, preliminaries, the most famous
Earning a reputation as the he might quite simply be killed prisoner in the world was
Black Pimpernel, Mandela went and that no one on the mainland escorted, in the greatest secrecy,
underground for more than a would ever be the wiser. to the State President's office to
year and traveled abroad to Whereupon Mandela quietly start negotiating not only his
enlist support for the A.N.C. retorted, "If you so much as lay own release but also the nation's
a hand on me, I will take you to transition from apartheid to
Soon after his return, he was
the highest court in the land, democracy. On Feb. 2, 1990,
arrested and sentenced to
and when I finish with you, you President F.W. de Klerk lifted
imprisonment on Robben Island
will be as poor as a church the ban on the A.N.C. and
for five years; within months
mouse." Amazingly, the warden announced Mandela's imminent
practically all the leaders of the
backed off. "Any man or release.
A.N.C. were arrested. Mandela
institution that tries to rob me of
was hauled from prison to face Then began the real test. Every
my dignity will lose," Mandela
with them an almost certain inch of the way, Mandela had to
later wrote in notes smuggled
death sentence. His statement win the support of his own
out by friends.
from the dock was destined to followers. More difficult still
smolder in the homes and His major response to the was the process of allaying
servant quarters, the shacks and indignities of the prison was a white fears. But the patience,
shebeens and huts and hovels of creative denial of victimhood, the wisdom, the visionary
the oppressed, and to burn in the expressed most remarkably by a quality Mandela brought to his
conscience of the world: system of self-education, which struggle, and above all the
"During my lifetime I have earned the prison the moral integrity with which he
dedicated myself to the struggle appellation of "Island set about to unify a divided
of the African people. I have University." As the prisoners people, resulted in the country's
fought against white left their cells in the morning to first democratic elections and
domination, and I have fought toil in the extremes of summer his selection as President.
against black domination. I have and winter, buffeted by the The road since then has not
cherished the ideal of a merciless southeaster or broiled been easy. Tormented by the
democratic and free society in by the African sun (whose glare scandals that pursued his wife
which all persons live together in the limestone quarry Winnie, from whom he finally
in harmony and with equal permanently impaired parted; plagued by corruption
opportunities. It is an ideal Mandela's vision), each team among his followers; dogged by
which I hope to live for and to was assigned an instructor — in worries about delivering on
achieve. But, if needs be, it is an history, economics, politics, programs of job creation and
ideal for which I am prepared to philosophy, whatever. housing in a country devastated
die." Previously barren recreation by white greed, he has become a
hours were filled with cultural
Without any attempt to find a sadder, wiser man.
activities, and Mandela recalls
legal way out, Mandela
with pride his acting in the role In the process he has undeniably
assumed his full responsibility.
of Creon in Sophocles' made mistakes, based on a
This conferred a new status of
Antigone. stubborn belief in himself. Yet
moral dignity on his leadership, his stature and integrity remain
which became evident from the such that these failings tend to
moment he was returned to enhance rather than diminish his
Robben Island. Even on his first
humanity. Camus once said one
man's chains imply that we are
all enslaved; Mandela proves
through his own example that
faith, hope and charity are
qualities attainable by humanity
as a whole. Through his
willingness to walk the road of
sacrifice, he has reaffirmed our
common potential to move
toward a new age.
And he is not deluded by the
adulation of the world. Asked to
comment on the BBC's
unflattering verdict on his
performance as a leader,
Mandela said with a smile, "It
helps to make you human."
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Joseph Smith was a remarkable leader. He served as President of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; mayor of Nauvoo, one of
the largest cities in Illinois; lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion;
and in 1844 he was a candidate for President of the United States.


9 April 2009
"I will not seek to compel any Quotes from Joseph I am at all times willing to give
man to believe as I do, only by Smith, Jr. up everything that is wrong, for
the force of reasoning, for truth I wish this people to have a
Nothing is so much calculated
will cut its own way" (History virtuous leader.
to lead people to forsake sin as
of the Church, 5:499).
to take them by the hand, and History of the Church, 6:412.
What set Joseph Smith apart watch over them with
from other dynamic leaders was tenderness. When persons Called of God
the source of his teachings: the manifest the least kindness and God Himself called Joseph
God of Heaven. "The best way love to me, O what power it has Smith as the prophet of the
to obtain truth and wisdom," he over my mind, while the latter days to restore His true
taught, "is not to ask it from opposite course has a tendency gospel to the earth. "I the Lord,
books, but to go to God in to harrow up all the harsh knowing the calamity which
prayer, and obtain divine feelings and depress the human should come upon the
teaching." mind. inhabitants of the earth, called
Joseph led with love. He History of the Church, 5:23–24. upon my servant Joseph Smith,
recognized the worth of every Jun., and spake unto him from
In relation to the power over the heaven, and gave him
soul as a child of God. When
minds of mankind which I hold, commandments." Over
asked why so many followed
I would say, it is in consequence centuries, the true Church of
him, he replied: "It is because I
of the power of truth in the Jesus Christ had fallen into
possess the principle of love.
doctrines which I have been an apostasy. Christ's teachings had
All I can offer the world is a
instrument in the hands of God been corrupted and the
good heart and a good hand."
of presenting unto them, and not ordinances of salvation
The Prophet refused to place because of any compulsion on changed. This apostasy ended
himself above others. Rather, as my part. with the calling of Joseph
he humbly said, "I love to wait Smith, an obscure farm boy 14
History of the Church, 6:273;
upon the Saints, and be a years of age, as a prophet.
capitalization modernized.
servant to all, hoping that I may
be exalted in the due time of the A brother who works in the St.
Lord." Bereft of pride, Joseph Louis Gazette office . . . wanted Why did God call a mere boy as
personified the Lord's counsel: to know by what principle I got His prophet? "I call upon the
"Whosoever will be great so much power. . . . I told him I weak things of the world, those
among you, . . . shall be servant obtained power on the who are unlearned and despised,
of all." principles of truth and virtue, to thrash the nations by the
which would last when I was power of my Spirit." President
dead and gone. Gordon B. Hinckley has said,
History of the Church, 6:343. "The instrument in this work of
God was a boy whose mind was "Believing your confession to conscience void of offense
not cluttered by the be real, and your repentance towards God, and towards all
philosophies of men. That mind genuine, I shall be happy once men." The Prophet humbly
was fresh and without schooling again to give you the right hand acknowledged, "I am a lover of
in the traditions of the day." of fellowship, and rejoice over the cause of Christ."
the returning prodigal. . . .
" 'Come on, dear brother, since
Having proven faithful over the
the war is past, for friends at
10 years since his First Vision,
first, are friends again at last.' "
Joseph Smith was sustained by
vote of the Church as a prophet, Joseph's forgiveness won
seer, revelator, translator, and William's unmeasured devotion.
apostle of Jesus Christ on April "Praise to his mem'ry," Phelps
6, 1830. later wrote of the Prophet.
"Honored and blest be his ever
Friend of Man great name!"
The Lord spoke to the boy
prophet in the Sacred Grove and Martyr for God
said, "Joseph, my son, thy sins On June 27, 1844, at about 5
are forgiven thee." Thus blessed o'clock in the afternoon, Joseph
by the Atonement of Jesus Smith and his brother Hyrum
Christ, Joseph Smith extended were assassinated by enemies of
that godly trait of forgiveness to the Church in the county jail at
others. "Ever keep in exercise Carthage, Illinois. John Taylor,
the principle of mercy," he severely wounded at the same
taught, "and be ready to forgive time, later called the Smith
our brother on the first brothers "martyrs of religion"
intimations of repentance, and and declared that the
asking forgiveness; and should Restoration of the gospel had
we even forgive our brother, or "cost the best blood of the
even our enemy, before he nineteenth century." These
repent or ask forgiveness, our faithful souls personified the
heavenly Father would be Savior's teaching: "Greater love
equally as merciful unto us." hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his
After turning against the
Prophet in Missouri which
brought additional persecution, "God is my friend," wrote
William W. Phelps wrote a Joseph Smith to his wife in
letter and begged the Prophet to 1832. "In him I shall find
forgive him. "Inasmuch as long- comfort. I have given my life
suffering, patience, and mercy into his hands. I am prepared to
have ever characterized the go at his call. I desire to be with
dealings of our Heavenly Father Christ. I count not my life dear
towards the humble and to me, only to do his will." Days
penitent," Joseph wrote back, "I before his death in 1844, the
feel disposed to copy the Prophet reiterated: "I am ready
example, cherish the same to be offered a sacrifice for this
principles, and by so doing be a people."
savior of my fellow men. . . . Leaving Nauvoo for Carthage,
Joseph said, "I have a