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Another reason to be embarrassed about our State Department

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2013

State Dept. briefing 10/18 by Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: What is the U.S. Government’s stance on the Japanese official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine [the Imperial Shrine, which commemorates (among many others) war criminals from WW II]?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve obviously seen, of course, those reports. The real issue here, as we’ve indicated many times, is encouraging – which we continue to do – Japan to continue to work with its neighbors to resolve concerns over history in an amicable way, through dialogue. The U.S. obviously has an interest in regional peace. That’s why we’re so supportive of that. Beyond that, I don’t have any further comment on decisions made by authorities in Japan.

QUESTION: Having more than 100 lawmakers visit the shrine, and one cabinet member —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — do you think this move help to resolve the concern, or actually increase the concerns of the neighbors?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other further analysis on that, other than to convey that what we’re pressing for, and certainly what we – the Secretary did when he was in Japan just a few weeks ago is the importance of continuing to work with Japan’s – of Japan continuing to work with their neighbors and addressing concerns about history in an amicable way.

QUESTION: But one thing I don’t understand is why the U.S. Government don’t have a clear stance, since the shrine has 14 Class A war criminals in that shrine, and whom actually the U.S. helped Chinese to fight against (inaudible). Why are you being so cautious?

MS. PSAKI: So cautious? I don’t think I am. I think I’m conveying what our focus is, and I don’t have any further comment on whether an official does or doesn’t visit a shrine.

QUESTION: Do you encourage Japanese Foreign Minister Abe to visit the shrine in the future?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more for you.

QUESTION: But you do understand why the question is being asked, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I do, Matt. Thank you.

It’s Bitburg on the Arakawa. The US Government should get this and should tell the Japanese government that it doesn’t appreciate inflaming tensions.

Posted in fascism, Japan | 1 Comment »

Ah, nostalgia

Posted by Charles II on October 20, 2013

Andrés Cala, Consortium News:

In Galicia, an area in Spain’s northwest, the mayor of another town under Popular Party rule proudly showcases in his office a picture of fascist dictator Francisco Franco. The mayor also plays the fascist anthem to anyone who will listen. Yet, he has faced no official reprimand.

And earlier this month, a small town near Madrid, also governed by the Popular Party (or PP), allowed a fascist group to put up a stand in a public school exhibiting Franco-era and Nazi memorabilia. Officials later apologized and said that they weren’t aware of the stand.

Though anecdotal, these incidents fit with a rising public nostalgia for the Franco era in Spain and are symptomatic of a broader resurgence of extreme right-wing ideology in Europe and globally.

Another point of concern is that nationalist, populist and fascist movements have historically found fertile ground during times of economic pain… mainstream democratic parties have seen their legitimacy questioned and their political support drained.

In Spain – and to a lesser extent in some other European countries – the immediate danger is not so much from a handful of incipient reactionary movements, but rather from the underlying official permissiveness from more mainstream conservative parties, like the Popular Party, bordering on patronage.

Some elected Popular Party officials and party militants are openly making the Nazi salute, proudly displaying fascist flags and other memorabilia, and posting pro-Franco messages on social media sites.

Amid the Popular Party’s recent political success, with its latest high-water mark the gaining of an absolute majority in parliament, many of the party’s stalwarts have reminisced about the Franco era as a prosperous time, though it wasn’t.

Secessionist plans from Catalonia, Spain’s economic motor, have served to unite nationalist forces and radical fascist groups, but the most forceful opposition to Catalonian separation is coming from the right wing of the Popular Party, led by former Prime Minister Jose María Aznar. (emphasis added)

Cala goes on to add that this is a Europe-wide, if not a worldwide phenomenon, with France’s Marine Le Pen’s French National Front, Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, and Progress Party leading the way into the abyss. Spain isn’t quite that far down the road… but the tolerance of the Popular Party for fascist expressions could end up mainstreaming it.

When will people learn that reaction doesn’t–almost by definition, can’t– solve problems?

Posted, with an addition about how the proper response to the rise of ultranationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and outright fascism is an extension and affirmation of human rights, at Daily Kos

Posted in Europe, fascism, history, Tea Party | 1 Comment »

New York City goes Stasi. Will the US?

Posted by Charles II on August 26, 2013

This is not a new story, but new information has significantly changed its interpretation.

I wish it were an exaggeration to say that New York City has gone to a level of surveillance that compares with the Stasi. Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, writing in New York Magazine make that case:

The activities [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration. It was a proactive approach, but, in constitutional terms, a novel one.

To reinvent the Intelligence Division, Kelly called on David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer…

Cohen and [CIA operative Larry] Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. They needed to be in bookshops to spot the terrorist with his newly grown beard, or in restaurants to overhear friends ranting about America. If detectives infiltrated Muslim student groups, maybe they could identify young men seething with embryonic fanaticism.

Sanchez told colleagues that he had borrowed the idea from Israeli methods of controlling the military-occupied West Bank, the swath of land captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

[Judge Charles] Haight ruled: “For the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally.”

To accomplish their goals, however, Cohen and Sanchez needed to go far beyond what the FBI could do. They needed to take a broad view of what was related to terrorist activity. As Sanchez would explain to Congress years later: “Part of our mission is to protect New York City citizens from becoming terrorists.

He [Cohen] recruited young Middle Eastern officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. They would be the ones raking the coals, looking for hot spots, and they became known as “rakers.”

The routine was almost always the same, whether they were visiting a restaurant, deli, barbershop, or travel agency. The two rakers would enter and casually chat with the owner. The first order of business was to determine his ethnicity and that of the patrons. This would determine which file the business would go into. A report on Pakistani locations, for instance, or one on Moroccans. Next, they’d do what the NYPD called “gauging sentiment.” Were the patrons observant Muslims? Did they wear traditionally ethnic clothes, like shalwar kameez? Were the women wearing hijabs?

If the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera was playing on the TV, the police would note it and observe how people were acting. Were they laughing, smiling, or cheering at reports of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did they talk Middle Eastern politics? If the business sold extremist literature or CDs, the officers would buy one or two. Was the owner selling fake I.D.’s or untaxed cigarettes? Police would note it. If customers could rent time on a computer, police might pay for a session and look at the computer’s search history. Were people viewing jihadist videos or searching for bomb-making instructions? Who was speaking Urdu?

On their way out, the rakers would look at bulletin boards. Was a rally planned in the neighborhood? The rakers might attend. Was there a cricket league? The rakers might join. If someone advertised a room for rent, the cops would tear off a tab with the address or phone number. It could be a cheap apartment used by a terrorist.

Surveillance turned out to be habit-forming. Cohen and Sanchez’s efforts also reached beyond the Muslim community. Undercover officers traveled the country, keeping tabs on liberal protest groups like [environmental awareness group] Time’s Up and the Friends of Brad Will [which protested police murders in Oaxaca, Mexico]. Police infiltrated demonstrations and collected information about antiwar groups and those that marched against police brutality. Detectives monitored activist websites and copied the contents into police files, including one memo in 2008 for Kelly that reported the contents of a website about a group of women organizing a boycott to protest the police shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man killed the morning before his wedding….

The Demographics Unit had thousands of dollars to spend on meals and expenses …

That’s when [Lt. Hector] Berdecia realized that, in the hunt for terrorists, his detectives gravitated toward the best food.

And now, the lawyers in the Handschu case [which reined in police infiltration of legitimate political activism] have returned to court, arguing that Kelly and Cohen, in their effort to keep the city safe, have crossed constitutional lines. Regardless of the outcome, the NYPD’s programs are likely to join waterboarding, secret prisons, and NSA wiretapping as emblems of post-9/11 America, when security justified many practices that would not have been tolerated before.

No successes in stopping terrorism; indeed, no information garnered about a potential actual terrorist. Many thousands of people monitored and files created. Surveillance extended even to plainly domestic and plainly legitimate activist groups: the restrictions of Handschu circumvented by an appeal to anti-terrorism. CIA operatives designing surveillance of Americans.

And Ray Kelly could become the head of Homeland Security.

Posted in CIA, Constitutional crisis, fascism, impunity, terrorism | 2 Comments »

Civil asset forfeiture: evading due process

Posted by Charles II on August 5, 2013

Jo6Pac posted a link on the abuse of civil asset forfeiture in comments. Via Mikey at DK, I found this piece by Sarah Stillman:

On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”

They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.

He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.

No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.

Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.

The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)

The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

Later, she learned that cash-for-freedom deals had become a point of pride for Tenaha, and that versions of the tactic were used across the country.

The piece Jo linked, by Isaiah Thompson of Raw Story, describes a different angle. Find someone violating a law and seize the home–even if the homeowner had nothing to do with the violation (Thompson also describes what is going on in Tenaha):

In October 2009, police raided the house and charged [Rochelle Bing’s] son, Andrew, then 24, with selling 8 packets of crack cocaine to an undercover informant. (Upon entering the house, police reported finding unused packets, though not drugs, in a rear bedroom.) Rochelle Bing was not present and was not accused of a crime. Yet she soon received a frightening letter from the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. Because Andrew had sold the drugs from inside his mother’s house, a task force of law enforcement officials moved to seize Bing’s house. They filed a court claim, quickly approved, that gave Bing just 30 days to dissuade a judge from granting “a decree of forfeiture” that would give the DA’s office title to the property.

It’s for these kinds of abuses, not the crap the right brings up about “takings” that constitutional protections for private property were designed.

Posted in corruption, crimes, fascism, impunity | 5 Comments »

The triumph of the fascist undead

Posted by Charles II on February 11, 2012

Once upon a time there were parties that called themselves fascist. One of those was the government of General Francisco Franco. After they had won the war, they killed over 100,000 people in cowardly ways. Mass executions. The Catholic Church was complicit with the regime (see here and here).

It took until the 21st century, well over 50 years, until there was any serious examination of one of the greatest crimes against humanity, save the Holocaust itself, of the 20th century (*). A brave judge, Baltasar Garzon, decided to follow the findings of mass graves where the facts led.

And so of course he himself was prosecuted. Robert Cox, Buenos Aires Herald:

Baltazar Garzón, the judge who dared to challenge the immunity of military dictators, knows what the conservative establishment of Spain thinks of him. For daring to suggest that the crimes of the bloodstained Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco should be investigated and the secret graves of the victims disinterred, not only is the judge himself on trial, the human rights movement is also on trial by people opposed to the concept.

The major charge against Garzón is that he willfully violated the terms of a 1977 amnesty law which sought to draw a curtain on the past.

Because the three trials that Garzón faces appear politically motivated, all the major human rights organizations have sent observers to Madrid. Amnesty International’s legal adviser Hugo Relva, told the British newspaper, The Guardian: “On principle, Amnesty doesn’t give an opinion on the charges faced by a single person — but the Garzón case is an exception and we cannot remain silent on it. It is simply scandalous and unacceptable. The charges should be dropped and the case closed. This case affects the independence of judicial power in Spain. Other judges see it as a warning about what might happen to them if they continue with their own investigations.”

Because it was too transparent that Garzon was being silenced for having dared to open the case despite a 1977 amnesty law (which has no validity, because crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations), another of the trials was moved up. On Thursday, he was convicted of attempting to prevent money laundering by criminals and stripped of his judgeship. RTT News:

Garzon was accused of authorizing police for illegal interception of communications between lawyers and remand prisoners in connection with a corruption investigation involving politicians from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s party (PP) in Valencia and Madrid.

The judgment approved unanimously by the seven-member judges imposes “the definitive loss of the duty and the honors that he bears” as a judge of Spain’s National Court. The decision also bars him from “obtaining during the duration of the sentence any employment or duty with judicial or governing functions within the judiciary.”

Experts say the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday, which incidentally is not subject to appeal, effectively ends Garzon’s career as a judge.

This case is clearly selective prosecution, since Garzon only ordered the wiretap at the request of the prosecutor, the trial was shifted to another court and the new prosecutor and the new court ordered it maintained.

This is not the end of it. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, has reminded the Spanish courts that the amnesty law has no force. His judges themselves may one day be tried as part of a conspiracy to perpetuate crimes against humanity.

I’ll be writing to the Spanish Embassy. This is a terrible wrong, one that demonstrates the deep corruption of Spanish politics and law even today. Franco is not dead.
* Yes, also Stalin, Mao, Guatemala, and the Armenians. There was lots of killing in the 20th century. Probably even some examples I am forgetting at the moment. But this crime stands in that pantheon of evil.

Posted in fascism | 4 Comments »

Neo-fascism in Hungary

Posted by Charles II on January 6, 2012

I don’t use the word lightly. Tony Patterson, The Independent:

There are hard times indeed for those in Hungary who like to think of themselves as enlightened, liberal, or even remotely left-wing. Yesterday, the concierge at the New Theatre stepped outside into the blustery cold of mid-morning Budapest. “We’ve only got 26 days left. Then it’s all over for us,” he explained ruefully. “We are – how do you say – under new management. It’s happening all over Hungary and there’s nothing we can do.”

The nationalist Fidesz government of Viktor Orban is not merely interested in wielding greater control over financial institutions. It has embarked on a Kulturkampf – a cultural revolution – which seems bent on imposing its right-wing and xenophobic ideology on all walks of life, ranging from minorities and religions to the media, judiciary and arts.

Anything that smacks of unacceptable left-wing thinking is being singled out as a target for denunciation or destruction by the Orban government’s culture police.

The new constitution also withdraws official recognition from over 300 religious denominations, including Islam, Buddhism and several Catholic orders.

Attacks on the media, the arts, the judiciary, even religious organizations–any power that stands athwart the power of the state. This is what fascism looks like.

Posted in Europe, fascism | 4 Comments »

We need a post on Ron Paul’s connections to the John Birch Society

Posted by Charles II on January 4, 2012

Just sayin’.

Figuring out what politicians will do in office is very difficult. Most of them are masters of disguise and deception. Tens of millions of people imagined that Bush would be a compassionate conservative (despite the fact that he was well known to be personally sadistic). Tens of millions imagined that Obama would not get involved in all sorts of optional wars, even though he told people ahead of time he would have American troops cross Pakistani borders whether they gave permission or not.

A very important part of anticipating what politicians will do is understanding where they get their ideas. Obama’s close ties with guys like Austan Goolsbee was a warning sign that he wasn’t an economic liberal. An economic liberal would have aligned himself with guys like Joe Stiglitz (for the record, there were some liberal economists like Jamie Galbraith and Bob Reich among his advisors. They just were not in any clear majority or among his personal associates). Understanding which wells or sewers a candidate drinks from in forming his ideas is a much better predictor of what he’ll do than what he says.

So, Ron Paul’s links to the John Birch Society, which are much more recent than his survivalist newsletter should be a focus for those who want to understand what Ron Paul would actually do. American Opinion, the JBS newsletter, gives Paul a 100% rating on 20 recent votes. Now, the JBS is a very strict grader. In the House, I count only 4 South Carolina Republicans, 1 North Carolina Republican, and Ron Paul who meet their exacting standards. In the Senate, there are none. The JBS is remarkably mainstream in Republican circles, considering they were once drummed out of the Republican Party. They sponsored a recent CPAC meeting.

Since there is no clear distinction between the John Birch Society and the conservative movement, one may wonder what the special interest in them should be. The answer is that the JBS is, in effect, the Bolshevik Party of the right. They are intensely conspiratorial, use deception routinely, and–because they have pre-determined that the world governments are all in the hands of the communists–have completed the process of dehumanization that is necessary for the use of ruthless means. For the latter, see for example this article, which includes such interesting lines as:

But now there appears to be another secret cabal, known as the Shadow Party, controlled by radical billionaire George Soros who operates secretly to influence the direction our government is going in. He has boldly proclaimed his intentions, so they are not secret. But how he controls events in Washington is another story. We suspect that he is behind Barack Obama’s presidency…
John Dewey and his colleagues were all socialists and made no secret of their intent to take over the public schools and use them as the means of converting America from an individualist society to a socialist one….Most readers of The New American are familiar with the Illuminati conspiracy that was launched by Adam Weishaupt on May 1, 1776, at Ingolstadt, Germany….The earliest conspiracy I know of in the United States was created by the Owenite socialists who wanted to convert America into an anti-Christian communist society.

So, let me speculate on what a couple of Ron Paul’s positions which are so attractive to the left might actually mean:
* does withdrawal of American forces from wars mean that we will use nuclear weapons when our interests are threatened?
* would legalization of drugs without any compensating effort to help people get off and stay off drugs mean that drugs would effectively become a means of medicating and controlling the population?

What does the John Birch Society say about these things? I’d really like to know. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Republican Party will never let Paul gain the nomination. I don’t see why not, not when some of the biggest money in the GOP comes from corporate libertarian/John Birchers like the Koch brothers.

Posted in 2012, anti-truth, antiwar movement, capitalism as cancer, corporatists, eedjits, evil, fascism, unintended consequences, War On Some Drugs | 20 Comments »

Direct rule by bankers?

Posted by Charles II on November 29, 2011

I don’t think that’s constitutional.

The fake party is called Americans Elect. They are falsely called moderates by such “liberal” institutions as the Washington Post. But even TNR is not buying that. Basically it’s corporate money.

Quick quiz: the fusion of corporate power with state power is _____________.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, fascism, financial crisis | 2 Comments »

Important information on understanding the links between conservatives and far right

Posted by Charles II on July 27, 2011

Amy Goodman did a stunning show on the links between the Breivik mass assassination and the mainstream conservative movement. The links to anti-feminism are particularly interesting. Updated with excerpts.

Jeff Sharlet (famous for C-Street House):

sometimes—he says he’s lifting from a lot of sources, many of them American. Sometimes he identifies them, as with Robert Spencer, a popular anti-Islamic blogger. Sometimes he doesn’t, as with William Lind, a prominent conservative critic whose attack on what he sees as political correctness as a sign of Western decadence he lifts kind of whole cloth without attribution. So, you really have to kind of read the text and then really double-check and see where it’s coming from. I mean, even some of the most extreme things, you’re then stunned to see—for instance, his Bible battle verses that he uses as he’s preparing for combat. You know, you think this is really fringe, and in fact it comes from Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily, a very popular conservative website in the United States.

Eva Gabrielsson (the life partner of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo novelist Stieg Larsen, who wrote about the right):

EVA GABRIELSSON: Well, he—when you talk about violence against women, or discrimination, Stieg used to say that they are just two sides of the same coin. They are directed towards different groups of the people in a society, but it’s the same mechanism, it’s the same ideology, it’s the same terror or discrimination that they want to impose, to subject somebody to something to be able to get more power of their own….And I’m horrified to see that his long-term aim, by using terror to destabilize whole nations and the whole of Europe, is supposed to end up in a coup, first civil war and then a coup, where which they will reestablish the patriarchy again—obviously with him in some kind of lead then at some point in time.

The Guardian on the Berlusconi right’s defense of Breivik:

Interviewed on a popular radio show, Francesco Speroni, a leading member of the Northern League, the junior partner in Berlusconi’s conservative coalition, said: “Breivik’s ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”

The Italian politician was endorsing the comments of another high-profile member of the league who had drawn fierce criticism for arguing that the killings might have been part of a plot to discredit hardline conservative thinkers. Like many in his party, Mario Borghezio, who sits in the European parliament, is an admirer of the writings of the late Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci, who popularised the term Eurabia to describe a future, supposedly Islamised Europe.

Pat Buchanan’s defense of Breivik:

And that massacre in Oslo, where a terrorist detonated a fertilizer bomb to decapitate the government and proceeded to a youth camp to kill 68 children of Norway’s ruling elite, is a fire bell in the night for Europe.

His writings are now being mined for references to U.S. conservative critics of multiculturalism and open borders. Purpose: Demonize the American right, just as the berserker’s attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson was used to smear Sarah Palin and Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing was used to savage Rush Limbaugh and conservative critics of Big Government.

native-born and homegrown terrorism is not the macro-threat to the continent.

That threat comes from a burgeoning Muslim presence in a Europe that has never known mass immigration, its failure to assimilate, its growing alienation, and its sometime sympathy for Islamic militants and terrorists.

Europe faces today an authentic and historic crisis.

As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.

Let’s be clear on this. There are elements in the conservative movement who are exposing themselves as violent extremists. Buchanan and some of the Berlusconians, by justifying Breivik’s philosphy while condemning his actions are in actuality endorsing his actions. One cannot honestly separate the philosophy of a mass murderer from his murders: the same brain thought the thoughts as pulled the trigger.

Posted in conservativism, crimes, fascism, terrorism | Comments Off on Important information on understanding the links between conservatives and far right

By their fruits. Franco’s legacy.

Posted by Charles II on May 6, 2011

The Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, is not someone that most Americans know. But he should never be forgotten. He was the one fascist leader of the World War II era who, for pragmatic reasons, the Allies left in place. A hero to the Catholic Church of that era under Pope Pius XI and especially Pius XII, he was a mass murderer just as evil as the rest of the fascists. The fruits of the evil he sowed keep sprouting up. Giles Tremlett, The Guardian:

The bones of 62-year-old Severina Gómez and 23 others whose remains had lain together for 75 years, surrounded by bullet cases and with hands tied behind backs, have finally been removed from their mass grave in countryside near the central Spanish village of Loma de Montija.

After a decade of bitter debate over how to heal the wounds left by conflict and dictatorship without stoking ancient hatreds, Spain’s government on Thursday published on the internet the first countrywide map showing the location of more than 2,000 mass graves from the civil war.

Other measures by the government have included removing 570 Francoist monuments and symbols from public places, awarding 13,400 pensions to people orphaned or sent into exile as children and giving Spanish nationality to 188,000 descendants of exiles.

So far, about 250 of the more than 2,000 mass graves have been excavated, with 5,400 bodies found.

Last month the British historian and Franco biographer Paul Preston published, in Spanish, a definitive study of the repression on both sides of the civil war called The Spanish Holocaust, which is to be published in English later this year.

He distinguishes between the impulsive violence of uncontrolled thugs and leftwing extremists among those defending the republic and the systematic, deliberate nationalist repression which one Francoist general called an attempt to eliminate “all those who do not think like us”.

“A programme of terror and annihilation constituted the central plank of their plan,” says Prof Preston.

The so-called “Spanish holocaust” was part and parcel of the larger Holocaust. The role of Franco and of the Catholic Church under Pius XII should never be forgotten. While Pius XII was a complex figure who has been commended for having helped save some Jewish lives, one can judge the man’s heart by his attitude toward the illegal, violent overthrow of a legally-elected government. In this matter, unlike in his dealings with Hitler, Pius XII was not under compulsion. His praise for the Franco regime speaks for itself. Against the claims of the defenders of Pius XII stands the silent testimony of thousands shot to death, their hands tied behind them. A

A footnote. To this day, Franco’s defenders argue that his rebellion was a consequence of the “Red Terror.” No question that left-wing forces killed a lot of innocent people. Nor is the fact that Franco killed many more people any justification for the ones killed by left-wingers. However, three things deserve consideration. First, the Catholic Church elevated Franco, a man notorious for his brutality long before the Civil War and an accomplice of Hitler and Mussolini. And the Church supported him as he continued his repression. Second, whatever the faults of the left, Franco did not even attempt to pursue a non-violent path; he simply overthrew a legally-elected government. Third, there’s no question that repression on the right was organized from the top, as one would expect from a fascist organization. There’s debate about the degree of organization of violence on the left; what violence there was was wrong, but it’s not at all clear that it was organized by the government. So at best, right-wing defenders of Franco are reduced to saying that both sides did it. They cannot admit that what he did was wrong, independent of what the left did.

Nor can the Catholic Church admit its sins in Spain. There was over a century of anti-clerical ism before Franco, and even after a half-century of severe repression, it continues. It’s time for the Church to confess that it has had a role in inspiring the sentiment against it.

Not that that will ever happen.

Indeed, much of the concern expressed over Opus Dei and figures like Josemaria Escriva–concern such as the involvement of the Cardinal of Honduras in Opus Dei and in the coup against Manuel Zelaya– have to do with the ties of Escriva and Opus Dei to fascism. As novelist William Faulkner said, the past is not even past.

Posted in fascism | 4 Comments »

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