(Page 3 of 3)
Franco was not utterly merciless. He commuted many death sentences to periods of imprisonment of varying length. It can be reasonably argued that he should have communed more of them, and ended the search, investigation and trial sooner, but no moral law required him to do so, for justice is the supreme duty of the state.Compared to the death-tolls of the 20th century totalitarians like Hitler, Stalin and Mao, or even Mussolini, who wantonly plunged his country into war, this is a modest total indeed.
This is the context in which we should view the total number of executions and murders in the Spanish Civil War….In the Republic from 1936 to 1939 the total was 72,344; in Nationalist Spain from 1936 to 1950 it was 57,662. Of the Nationalist total, 16,763 were executed during the first two years after the war, with 5,878 more during the next ten years. All these were done in a country at peace under judicial process; many, perhaps a majority, of the executions and homicides during the war were without a genuine trial…every Western nation in the period 1936-1950 used the death penalty with some frequency…in France immediately after World War II over 10,000 people were executed for treason….It ill behooves those who have never seen nor really tried to imagine the kind of horrors that were routine in Barcelona, Madrid and Toledo in 1936 to call for them to be left unpunished.
THE LAST CRUSADE HAS SEVERAL important themes. It gives some overdue recognition to both the heroism and, sometimes, the moderation of the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, endlessly slandered as fascists and murderers. It also tells of the supernatural valor of many of the murdered religious figures. But the other aspect upon which it throws a searing light is the atrocious wickedness of so many on the Republican-Anarchist-Communist side.
And here the figure of even the great anti-Fascist and anti-totalitarian George Orwell, in some ways one of my own political heroes and inspirations, must stand before the bar of history. Orwell wrote in “Looking Back on the Spanish War” (published in New Road, 1942), that “I have little direct evidence about the atrocities in the Spanish Civil War. I know that some were committed by the Republicans, and far more (they are still continuing) by the fascists.” Orwell’s whole life was an often painful and career-damaging commitment to the truth, and I think it can be assumed that he is telling the truth here. Further, he was writing at a time when if looked at if there was a good chance fascism would conquer the world, and some didactic intent can be forgiven in such circumstances. We will never know the answer now, perhaps, but one may ask: “How much did Orwell know?” if not by “evidence,” at least by hints and rumors.
Indeed, Orwell’s commitment to truth (as well as perhaps the fact that he was writing amid the general misinformation, propaganda and “fog of war”), and his determination “not to be taken in,” seems to have led him into false equivalence more than once, as when he suggested the Soviet invasion of Finland and the Allied occupation of Madagascar were morally indistinguishable.
Anyway, Orwell arrived in Spain after the worst anti-Christian massacres in 1936 and spent most of his time as a fighting soldier in the trenches, so there is a real case for his innocence. He did, however, seems to regard stories of Republican atrocities as less believable than Nationalist atrocities, writing in the same article of Nazis and Fascists, the Catholic press, and the conservative British Daily Mail “pretending that life in Government Spain was just one long massacre.” Professor Carroll has put the case for the other side with political courage.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?