Friday, March 03, 2006

Freedom of speech - 2

In an article in the Canadian National Post, John O’Sullivan explained the refusal to discuss Communist crimes to be the result of the Left’s bad conscience:

“These, surely, are the uneasy consciences of post-communist Europe, guiltily aware that for seven decades they have turned a blind eye to the evils of communism. They too had been Marxists and had at various times supported the Soviets, Mao, Ho-Chi-Minh, Fidel, and all the other murderers. And they are unwilling even today to surrender their Marxist illusions which gave them a sense of moral and intellectual superiority over their political opponents.

They have their counterparts on an American Left that regards McCarthyism as a greater evil than Kolyma and the Arctic slave camps. As the piles of communism's corpses mounted, increasingly impossible to deny or justify except for the most intellectually calloused, both Lefts have tried to silence their consciences by preventing the subject ever being raised--that and "crying witch.".”

With the East European countries taking an ever more vigorous part in European and world politics, it has become more and more difficult to pass over Communist crimes. Soon even Tory MPs will realize that there were two depraved systems in the twentieth century.

Recently the Parliamentary Committee of the Council of Europe (PACE), though this would never happen in the European Parliament (the Toy Parliament), voted by a simple majority to condemn the crimes of Communism. According to the report these included:

“… individual and collective assassinations, death in concentration camps, starvation, deportation, torture, slave labor and other forms of mass physical terror”.

Most of us would call that pretty depraved, Ms Villiers. PACE went so far as to equate Communism and Nazism, calling them both totalitarian, and to call for “moral restitution” for the surviving victims. That, presumably, means some form of apology.

A tougher resolution that called on the European governments to condemn Communism and to investigate those guilty of crimes who were still living (these, incidentally, would not be eighty-something year old men but somewhat younger) did not get the necessary two-thirds majority.

It was blocked by the Russian delegation, and a combination of the existing Communist parties, and the United Left of the Greens and various socialists. One must distinguish, they whined, between Communist ideology and Communist governments, who committed the crimes. The ideology was super-excellent, meant for the best for everyone, and must not be sullied by the crimes.

As Mr O’Sullivan points out, it is hard to get away from

“… the curious fact that the crimes were invariably committed wherever communists came to power”.

Even the very limited PACE resolution has been denounced by various West European socialists (who clearly do not wish to know what happened to their political brethren under Communist regimes) as a “witch-hunt of progressive forces”.

That brings me to another historical event about which endless lies have been told and are being told.

One of the big Hollywood movies of the year is George Clooney’s “Good Night and Good Luck”. Rapturously greeted by critics, though disdained by the public, it is yet another “courageous” account of the evils of McCarthyism, this time focusing on the TV journalist Edward Murrow, who launched a counter-attack, in defence of friends of his, who had been accused of being Communist agents.

How many times have we heard of the evil McCarthyite witch-hunts that destroyed innocent people’s lives through accusations of Communism? Lies, all lies and pernicious lies at that.

There has been no evidence of a single innocent person being accused. In fact, documents found in Moscow and published in the last decade show that the extent of Communist subversion in American public life was far greater than even Senator McCarthy believed.

The Hollywood Ten? Every one of them has admitted to secret membership of the Party and to following the party line in providing propaganda and destroying the reputation of anyone who tried to tell the truth.

Anyone who wants to know about that whole sad tale can read the well researched “Red Star Over Hollywood” by Radosh and Radosh.

As for Murrow, the freedom-defending, truth-seeking journalist, as he was described by the Daily Telegraph film critic, he was either a liar or a dupe. An article recently published on TechCentral Station goes into the whole story. Mark Steyn picks up another episode in the film and proves the same point. Ironically, the truth would have made a better and, possibly, a more popular film.

The persistent lies of writers and film-makers who have produced a completely distorted picture of McCarthyism and what had led up to it has made any reasonable discussion about Communism and its horrors very difficult, if not impossible. The slightest mention of it and we hear those shrieks of “witch-hunt” and “McCarthyism”.

Hizonner the Mayor of LondON has even gone so far as to call people who have criticized him for his persistently anti-Jewish attitude a new and updated form of McCarthyism.

Lies and falsification. Should we not arrest and imprison the people who are responsible? If not the film-makers (though I would give much to shut up George Clooney the next time he starts pontificating) then at least the historians. Yet there would be demands for just that if there was a film that justified Nazi propaganda or pretended that it never really happened and if there were agents, they merely wanted to create a better world and did not quite know what they were getting into.

There is another disturbing aspect to our obsession with the Holocaust. It has been reified, turned into a concept with no understanding of what caused it, who were the people involved, what was the political system that created it.

During the campaigns for and against the Constitution for Europe, as our readers will remember, first the fragrant Margot, then some Dutch MEPs tried to use the Holocaust as an argument for further integration and for the Constitution. (To be fair to the Dutch MEPs, they also tried to use Srebrenice and the Madrid bombing attack.)

There was a justifiable outcry. The fragrant Commissar had to change her speech and prevaricate at great length about what she did and what she did not say in Terezin. Noticeably, of course, she did not go into any detail about the horrors of Communism, a supranational ideology.

The Dutch MEPs were forced to pull their TV ads, though they were available on the internet for a long time.

The word Holocaust is used for all sorts of purposes as the supreme evil with no real understanding. Even more appallingly, the word gulag (the network of labour camps in the Soviet Union) is now trotted out as a reprimand for what we do not like.

Thus, first the Chief Executive of Amnesty International (to the horror of many of the employees), then our own egregious Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, called Guantánamo the new gulag. Setting aside the alliteration and, even, what you might or might not think about Gitmo and its prisoners, comparing it to the gulag is dishonest and despicable.

How many people are there in Guantánamo and how many have died? How many were there in the gulag and how many died? As for comparative conditions, let us not go for the real horror stories. Why not read “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”? With all the horrors, it is the description of a “good” day.

(My father, who was in the camps about the same time, said that the daily rations prisoners received were lower in quantity and calorific value than those given to POWs by the Japanese. Guantánamo, indeed.)

The obsession with the Holocaust is also camouflaging something else – the growing new anti-Semitism in Europe. Partly it comes from the Muslim minorities but partly from the left in politics, who insist that they are anti-Zionists and not anti-Semites.

Well, that depends. Criticism of the Israeli government is a legitimate exercise. Most Israelis do it all the time and, anyway, it is only a government and they are only politicians.

To say you are anti-Israeli is a little trickier. The idea that you can be anti any country, no matter what, is absurd, but then people are anti-American in the same mindless fashion. (I recall somebody saying to me with great surprise, when I expressed some criticism of the American government: “But I thought you were pro-American.” Largely I am, but it is not a religion. Of course, for the anti-Americans it often is.)

If you are also anti-Zionist, you are saying that the Jewish people have no right to have a country; that those who want to sweep Israel into the sea are right. Confronted with this logic, most “anti-Zionists” back away and mutter about occupied territories but the truth remains: Hamas, for instance, thinks all the territories are occupied and even the land that had been legally sold must be “returned”.

Let us face it, “anti-Zionism” goes way beyond it. We have a situation when the most disgusting cartoons are published about the Israeli Prime Minister in newspapers such as the Guardian or the Independent. Some of them could have come out of Der Stürmer, but no, I don’t think they should be banned. Incidentally, I do not recall any demonstrations.

The Association of Univeristy Teachers (yes, I know, who cares about them) tried to pass a resolution to ban all Israeli academics from British universities and conferences. The attempt failed but only just. All Israeli academics? Nothing like that had ever been suggested about Soviet or South African ones.

The Church of England Synod has voted for a financial disengagement from Israel and Israeli businesses, saying in effect that Israel is uniquely evil. It has not suggested to do so with China, for instance, or any Middle Eastern country that persecutes Christians mercilessly. To his credit, former Archbishop Carey expressed his disgust with this move. The present Archbishop voted for it, then prevaricated mightily to all and sundry.

And so on, and so on. The situation is even worse in Continental countries. Most of them, for instance, now have a police guard around synagogues.

But whenever these points are mentioned, hands are raised in horror: how can you accuse us of being anti-Semitic when we care so much about the Holocaust and what happened during it.

Even Hizonner the Mayor of LondON plays that game.

It is, of course, impossible to view the Holocaust as just another historical event. But then, it is impossible to view the various Communist collectivizations and purges as just historical events. The banning of any discussion, however, serves to distort our perception of history and camouflages increasingly disturbing developments.

We must not go down that route and repeat the horrors of the last century.


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