Tag Archives: fascism

Are we all anti-fascist now?

US neo-Nazis and fascists supporters march in Charoltsvill, USA.
Image credit: Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters

Wouldn’t that be nice? What if the current almost universal condemnation of fascism by the main stream media and social media commenters were genuine.? That it represents an abhorrence for fascism and its modern supporters who attempt to revive it – and not just partisan politics.

Because fascism is abhorrent. And it does have its modern apologists, even revivalists. It is not new, even in the US, and people shouldn’t be surprised at its manifestation in Charlottesville.

After all, we have seen similar actions in other parts of the world – in parts of the world which understandably understand fascism and its consequences far better than the average US citizen does.

Thousands of nationals, neo-Nazis and pro-fascists march in Kiev, Ukraine, on the anniversary of the birth of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
Image credit: South China Morning Post.

Yes, I know. Our media tends to treat the marchers in Kiev and Riga as “freedom fighters” and not what they really are – supporters of  Nazi collaborators and those organisations derived from them which still exist today and play a role in the politics of those countries. But, unlike the USA, those collaborators were responsible for thousands of deaths of their fellow citizens(see my article Don’t put all the blame on the Germans – a lesson from World War II).

Supporters of Latvia’s Waffen-SS legion hold an annual commemoration Nazi SS division formed from Latvians during World War Two. Image Credit: The Telegraph.

 

Sculpture of the “Unbowed man” at the Khatyn Memorial site near Minsk in Byelorussia. The sculpture depicts Yuzif Kaminsky, the only adult to survive the massacre by Ukrainian Nazi groups, holding his dead son Adam.
Image credit: John Oldale.

Which brings me to my real message – my suggestion for action

Why not take advantage of this new-found anti-fascist feeling? Rather than let the lessons of Charlotteville disperse and die out why not do something meaningful and specific? Something that might last. And something with an international influence.

My suggestion – the US should change its stance next time the regular United Nations General Assembly resolution on “Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” comes up.

The resolution expresses concern about the fact that in some countries, famed Nazi movement leaders and former members of the SS are honoured, and monuments to fighters (e.g partisan heroes) against fascism are demolished or subjected to desecration. It calls on states to pass legislation prohibiting the denial of crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Second World War.

It was last passed in November 2016. Then the only countries voting against the resolution were Ukraine, the United States and Palau!

Just imagine, if the US goes with its current anti-fascist feelings it could, at last, vote for this resolution. Of course, Palau as a client state will also automatically reverse its vote.

As for Ukraine – well, who could say the country is such a mess. Chances are the current government in Kiev may not be in power next time the vote occurs. But, unfortunately, the extreme nationalist and neo-fascist forces which seem to dictate affairs in that country will still be around.

But what about closer to home

Can not New Zealand also learn from the current anti-fascist feelings emanating from the USA? New Zealand traditionally takes the cowards way out and abstains on this resolution. Apparently aligning itself with the 131 countries supporting the resolution in 2016 would have caused too much displeasure from the USA – something we still seem to be afraid of. So we joined the group of 48 countries that abstained.
But, I guess, if the USA changed heart and voted for the anti-fascist resolution we would meekly snap into line and also vote for it.

A job for the US (and NZ) House of Representatives?

OK, the current US president may be even less willing than previous presidents to take a real international stand against fascism. But don’t we have some recent history that might provide a solution. Why don’t the US Congress and Senate follow on from their recent almost unanimous resolutions constraining the president in his handling of international affairs?

They made it impossible for President Trump to take any action on sanctions against Iran, North Korea and the Russian Federation without a decision from Congress.

So why not a near unanimous Congressional resolution demanding the USA in future votes for this resolution in the UN General Assembly? A resolution that prevents the US Ambassador from voting against it again without a decision from Congress?

Perhaps the New Zealand Parliament could place a similar restriction on our representatives at the UN

After all, aren’t we all anti-fascist now?

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Victory Day celebration of defeat of terrorism in Palmyra

Victory over terrorism in Syria is still a long way off. But the liberation of Palmyra was an important and symbolic step towards that. This concert on Thursday, in the historic amphitheatre of the ancient city of Palmyra, was dedicated to the 71st anniversary of the defeat of fascism in Europe as well as an expression of gratitude to all those who fight terrorism today and memorial to the victims of terrorism.

During their occupation of Palmyra, Daesh committed public executions by beheading in this amphitheatre. One of the most prominent people beheaded in the city at this time was Khaled al-Asaad, a Syrian archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city. The New York Time reported the murder (see Syrian Expert Who Shielded Palmyra Antiquities Meets a Grisly Death at ISIS’ Hands):

“After detaining him for weeks, the jihadists dragged him on Tuesday to a public square where a masked swordsman cut off his head in front of a crowd, Mr. Asaad’s relatives said. His blood-soaked body was then suspended with red twine by its wrists from a traffic light, his head resting on the ground between his feet, his glasses still on, according to a photo distributed on social media by Islamic State supporters.”

According to Wikipedia:

“A placard hanging from the waist of his dead body listed al-Asaad’s alleged crimes: being an “apostate”, representing Syria at “infidel conferences”, serving as “the director of idolatry” in Palmyra, visiting “Heretic Iran” and communicating with a brother in the Syrian security services. His body was reportedly displayed in the new section of Palmyra (Tadmur) and then in the ancient section, whose treasures ISIS had already demolished.

In addition to al-Asaad, Qassem Abdullah Yehya, the Deputy Director of the DGAM Laboratories, also protected the Palmyra site. He also was killed by ISIL while on duty on 12 August 2015. He was 37 years old.”

Archeologist

Portrait of murdered Khaled al-Asaad at concert in Palmyra ampitheatre.

Given the religious basis of terrorism in Palmyra, and Syria as a whole, I am a little put off by the title of this concert “Pray for Palmyra. Music Revives Ancient Ruins.” Sure, “prayer” can have a secular meaning – but to me it brings up pictures of terrorists chanting “Allah Akbar” – “God is great.” This chant seems to accompany the launching of all mortars, rockets and almost every bullet fired by jihadists.

Maybe the chant “Allah Akbar” also accompanied each beheading in Palmyra.

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Thatcher, Monckton and Pinochet

Thatcher

OK, I can appreciate that criticism of Margaret Thatcher upsets some people – not speaking ill of the dead or something. Trouble is, one has to choose. A lot of people were hurt by Thatcher’s policies. And she supported some atrocious regimes which were responsible for the suffering, and yes death, of many people.

So, to ignore the bad, and especially to make sweeping claims that Maggie Thatcher was a “champion of the people”, fought for “liberty and democracy,” and “destroyer of tyrannies,” you are actually speaking very ill of many dead. trampling on their memory.

We should not be afraid to mention she was on the wrong side of history when she supported South African apartheid, as the poster above indicates. And frankly, as someone who knew many of the Chilean refugees who came to New Zealand in the mid 1970s, I was extremely offended by her support for the Chilean dictator Pinochet, and don’t think her memory should be sanitised to remove that crime against humanity.

Have a look at Why Would Anyone Celebrate the Death of Margaret Thatcher? Ask a Chilean for more on her support for Pinochet, who was responsible for the torture, death and disappearance of thousands of Chilean democrats.

But we have a more direct link with Maggie Thatcher and her passing at the moment. The ultra conservative Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, who we have described here as the “Potty Peer,” is currently on a New Zealand speaking tour, “The Freedom Tour.” Telling us about the greenie, communist, fascist, tyrannical conspiracy to form a one world government, through the United Nations, and with the help of climate scientists. As he tells it, he and Mrs Thatcher were great pals, and he has written up her obituary on Facebook and the ultra conservative Free Republic (see Lord Monckton writing about Margaret Thatcher). He starts:

It will be from heaven that Margaret Thatcher, the greatest friend the United States ever had, will observe the now-inescapable disintegration of the dismal European tyranny-by-clerk whose failure she foresaw even as it brought her down.

Margaret was unique: a fierce champion of people against government, taxpayers against bureaucrats, workers against unions, Us against Them, free markets against state control, privatization against nationalization, liberty against socialism, democracy against Communism, prosperity against national bankruptcy, law against international terrorism, independence against global governance; a visionary among pygmies; a doer among dreamers; a statesman among politicians; a destroyer of tyrannies from arrogant Argentina via incursive Iraq to the savage Soviet Union.

Much of the rest is really about Christopher Monckton, and what a great bloke he is. He loves to talk about himself, although I would have thought that was bad taste for a eulogy.

He finishes with:

It was not hard to see why Margaret and Denis Thatcher were the most popular couple among the old stagers working at 10 Downing Street since the Macmillans. Now they are reunited; and I pray, in the words of St. Thomas More, that they may be merry in heaven. They have both earned it. Let her be given a state funeral. Nothing less will do.

The Potty Peer seems to have very naive, even childish, religious beliefs. Does he picture Maggie chatting with Dennis on a cloud in heaven? Perhaps he actually includes Pinochet in that picture? And sees himself as part of that merry little group some time in the future?

I am sure he doesn’t include either Nelson Mandela, or Salvador Allende –  the democratically elected president of Chile overthrown by Piochet in 1973.

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Mass atrocities require idealism

I’m currently reading Jonathan Haidt’s book  The Happiness Hypothesis. It sounds like a “self-help” book, but really its an outline of modern scientific understanding of factors influencing happiness, relationships, motivations and so on. On the other hand the book does make it easy to apply some of the scientific findings to one’s own situation.

I liked his comment on the relationship between ideology and evil. I think it is far more applicable than the often quoted comment of Steven Weinberg (“With or without [religion] you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.”) I have commented on this before (see Sources of evil?).

Haidt lays the blame of idealism, rather than just religion:

“but to really get a mass atrocity going you need idealism— the belief that your violence is a means to a moral end. The major atrocities of the twentieth century were carried out largely either by men who thought they were creating a Utopia or else by men who believed they were defending their homeland or tribe from attack. Idealism easily becomes dangerous because it brings with it, almost inevitably, the belief that the ends justify the means. If you are fighting for good or for God, what matters is the outcome, not the path. People have little respect for rules; we respect the moral principles that underlie most rules. But when a moral mission and legal rules are incompatible, we usually care more about the mission.”

I think this makes sense of the state sponsored atrocities the world has seen. It also makes sense of the atrocities and harm caused by idealism at the personal level.

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