Archive for April, 2007

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70 years on – smashing Franco’s fascism

April 24, 2007

For anyone that watched Foreign Correspondent tonight, you’ll understand. I’ve studied the Spanish Civil War in some depth both at university and on my own time. It seems that since Franco died in 1975 and Juan Carlos initiated democracy in Spain, Spanish people have been reluctant to disturb the ghosts of the past and deal with the civil war. With a whitewash of propaganda during the 36 years of Franco’s rule, Rupublican views, interpretations and memorials of the war have not even been acknowledged, let alone respected and honoured.

Of course, any historical study of this fascinating but brutal period in history reveals that there were atrocities committed by both sides during the war. Fascist Francoists as well as Republicans killed each other without a second thought – civilians included. However, the fact remains that the Fascist Francoists seized power from a democratically elected government. The Popular Front Government was elected in Spain in February of 1936. In July of the same year, Franco and his posse launched a coup that plunged Spain into a brutal civil war – a war that saw Hitler support Franco with the German Condor legion conducting the first mass aerial bombing of a civilian centre in history. This bombing campaign has since been immortalised in Picasso’s famous “Guernica”.

Franco was a great admirer of Hitler. He even met with him during the early stages of the Second World War in 1940. During his reign, Franco suppressed all Republican interpretations and views of the civil war. He paid homage to the fallen Fascists of the war but never acknowledged those Spaniards on the Left or those who were simply defending the democracy that Fracco set out to destroy. The fact that many Spaniards are now demanding to acknowledge and literally dig up the past is a sign that Spain is now coming to terms with the fact that it was ruled by a ruthless fascist dictator for the most significant part of the 20th century. This dictator set back the political development of Spain for four decades and suppressed the flowering of Spanish democratic culture.

We should all be glad that Spain is acknowledging and honouring the Republican dead. The Republican side most certainly lacked many of the virtues that it was seeking to implement into Spanish society. But the fascist dictatorship that overthrew the democratic Republic was a devastating blow to the political, cultural, artistic and social devlopment of the world both during and after the Second World War. With all their failings, we should not forget the sacrifice that Republican Spaniards made in defending the virtues of democracy in the face of an overwhelming threat from the forces of devastating fascism. Indeed, we should remember and honour this sacrifice and use it as an inspiration to carry on the fight against fascism in all its forms.

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Again, we’ll ask why

April 17, 2007

As I woke up this morning to a report from the US that another “lone gunman” has gone on a rampage killing 32 people and then himself, I just thought “oh, so it’s today”… It was only a matter of time before this sort of thing happened again. When I say this sort of thing, I’m not even sure what I mean. This “sort of thing” happens everyday in the US in the form of individual killings – it’s only big news when more than two or three are killed at once with a gun.

As people recoil in horror, the blame merchants will emerge from all over the place, just like after the Columbine shootings. There is no one single blame for these horrific acts though. Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine should again be taken down off the shelf of those who have it and given to those who need to watch it. Moore hits home with the powerful points he makes in that film in relation to the availability of guns and ammo, the underlying culture of violence and the military industrial complex of a society that produces some of the most lethal and efficient killing machines this planet has ever seen.

Of course it may surface that the person who has committed this act may have been mentally ill, like Martin Bryant who killed 35 people at Port Arthur in Tasmania in April 1996. This doesn’t weaken Moore’s analysis – it strengthens it. A society which makes people feel isolated, alienated and downtrodden from the mall to the office block to the university campus and then makes guns freely available to just about anyone who wants one or feels that they need one is bound to reap what it sows.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that we’ll just ask why again without really wanting to know the answer – and I’ll wake up to the same story again sometime in the next few years.

My heart aches for the families and friends of those who’ve lost their lives.

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Pell – out of touch as always

April 6, 2007

We wouldn’t want him any other way would we? George Pell, the devil-slayer of Sydney has said in his Easter address that terrorism is bringing us all closer to god, that Jesus had nothing to say about global warming and that we shouldn’t moralise about distant worlds when things are unresolved in our own lives.

Once again, this arrogant old man sets a new record in how out of touch, irrelevant and downright ignorant his views are in the 21st century. I mean, wow! You know, Jesus had nothing to say regarding nuclear weapons, biology, space, masturbation, the new Airbus jumbo jet and those Bratz dolls that seemingly teach children how to sell their sexuality at the age of 4. I guess we should just ignore all those issues and find ourselves in our hearts then, shouldn’t we wise man Pell?

Furthermore, we really shouldn’t moralise about distant lands and worlds and what not. No, leave that to wise man Pell since he seems to know so much about everything. What a hypocrite! He tells us not to judge, then in the same address, proceeds to judge himself.

Oh, I’m not suprised of course. This is just a typical Pell outburst. Just thought at this most important time of Easter that we should all remember the sacrifice that I have made in taking valuable time out of my day to consider the views of this wise old sage. Praise be to Pell!