Its been said that life often imitates art. However, I never imagined that the satirical airbrushing campaign undertaken by the rabid anti-smoking lobby at the end of "Thank You For Smoking" would ever actually be replicated in real life. Apparently, as the Daily Mail reports
, I was wrong (h/t Adam S Baldwin
It seems the man who steered Britain through the most dangerous period of its recent history may have fallen victim to the modern curse of political correctness.
Don't take their word for it though, judge for yourself. Here is the original picture of Churchill from 1948:
And here is the picture of Churchill that hangs above the "Britain At War Experience" in South East London:
Yea... no cigar. Perhaps stranger than the missing cigar is the missing credit for the airbrushing. Seems nobody wants to fess up to this handy work:
So just who did pinch the great man's Havana?
It wasn't the anti-smoking lobby, which has had no known contact with the museum; it certainly wasn't Churchill's family - his grandson Nicholas Soames said 'it doesn't matter one way or the other'; and it wasn't the museum itself - in fact it's got wartime posters advertising cigarettes on the walls.
But intriguingly the museum, which gives all profits to charity, declined to name who put together the display and, crucially, who enlarged the image for the poster.
Something tells me the anti-smoking lobby must have been involved in some way. I mean its pretty clear this wasn't the anti-hat or anti-peace-sign (or more accurately, as pointed out by davidmills in the comments, the anti-V-for-Victory) lobby considering what, exactly, was airbrushed from this picture. This has to be one of the most ridiculous tactics of fighting against smoking imaginable.
This also isn't a tactic which is relegated to this one incident in the UK:
Churchill is not the first figure to fall foul of such meddling.
A much-reproduced photograph of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel posing against the backdrop of the huge launching chains of his ship the SS Great Eastern in 1857 shows him smoking a cigar.
However, in a copy which has been used on the front of a school textbook, the cigar was airbrushed out to avoid 'offence'.
Nor is this a tactic relegated to the UK. Seems the US Postal Service is rather fond of airbrushing tobacco product out of history as Roger Ebert, of all people, reports:
This stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from "All About Eve." Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where's her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated.
Ebert also points out a stamp from 1994 where the Post Office pulled the same little trick:
This is incredibly dangerous. Where does this end? After they've airbrushed all the cigarettes and cigars out of history what "bad behavior" will they go after next?
Will they just go all out and institute an office of revisionism? That way government betterers can tell us which parts of history are ok to speak of or even which parts even truly existed at all in the first place? That would make their jobs easier at least.
Don't have a good argument for why statist policies have failed around the world through out history? Hey, just airbrush all those failures right out. Then who can question you?
Don't like those nagging dissenters? Why not just "take care of them" and airbrush them out of history as well? Then there never really was dissent in the first place because the dissenters never really existed in the first place.
Don't like people questioning absurd statist fiscal policies that violate rules of basic mathematics? Airbrush out the rules. After all if the answer to the question "what does 2+2 equal" is dictated by them and not by reason or logic then they've won and there is no hope for freedom.
Clearly we haven't reached this point in the United States or even the United Kingdom. I mean the airbrushing of a few postal stamps, a text book, and a poster by people who are most likely not connected to one another is nothing compared to the operation the soviets ran for decades. However, the censoring of history and the blatant plastering over of facts, left unchecked, can lead only to soviet style destruction of freedom and dismantling of truth.