fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
For me, personally, the final evidence of the guilt of British criminal Hanratty, of anarchist Nicola Sacco. and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - however different the circumstances - have been a personal shock. They are the undeniable proof that people can lie even in the face of death and eternity, that claims of innocence from the scaffold are no more reliable than from any other point. The case of Sacco's fellow-accused Bartolomeo Vanzetti seems even darker: he was probably himself innocent, but he knew that Sacco was guilty as Hell, and he deliberately died with a lie on his lips, for the sake of his imagined revolution. (And to add a further taste of futility to his false sacrifice, the historical fact is that the only party who benefited from his and Sacco's executions were the Communists, who had organized all the protests against their executions, and who were sworn enemies of Vanzetti's Anarchists and would have murdered him a good deal more nastily if he had ever fallen into their hands.) But perhaps the most significant of these is the lie of Hanratty, because that had nothing of the ideological justifications of Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. Hanratty was not fighting for any "cause", however bad: he was a rapist and murderer with no ulterior motives. And he declared his innocence right to the point of death with a passionate intensity that deceived generations of activists including myself.
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
From now I shall use a new word. The kind of people who argue against a minimum wage are neither conservative (how DARE they?) nor libertarian. They are starvationists. Remember the word: STARVATIONISTS.
fpb: (Default)
Most of us know that ever since the bloke with the beard took over Cuba, homosexuality - associated with the island's supposed pre-revolutionary past as a haven of Yanqui degeneracy - has been suppressed, persecuted and punished by (what passes in Cuba for) law. Well, no more. Raul Castro seems to have noticed that his putative allies in the extreme left have changed their view on that little matter - and so, from one minute to the next, Cuba has turned from hell for homosexuals to San Francisco without the Diet Coke. In a few days, with the speed and efficiency of tyranny, the Cuban government has passed rules that allow the changing of one's identity, sex-change operations and the eventual legalization of homosexual unions.

Now understand me: I have absolutely no intention of making any direct comparison between the promotion of "gay marriage" and the like, and the horrors of the nineteen-thirties. However little I may like some features of this (and on sex-change operations I am agnostic), it is simply not on the same moral level as the promotion of mass murder. So I positively beg the looking-for-offence brigade not to distort what I am about to say. But this sudden and extreme change of tack by a hardened tyranny looking for support where they had previously had enemies reminds me of nothing so much as Mussolini's appalling race laws of 1938. Apart from their own native loathsomeness, which itself cries vengeance to Heaven, these vicious perversions of the concept of law were execrable because they represented a complete about-face on a matter on which Mussolini had been consistent since 1919, namely toleration and protection of Italy's Jewish population. He sold the Jews down the river, and broke his word given to them over and over again, in order to align himself to a man whom he had previously treated as an enemy and actually nearly gone to war with only four years earlier. Now countries change allies, and Italy's reasons to do so in 1938 were only too easy to see; but to change ally is one thing, and to change your whole ideology to suit your ally is another. Mussolini made himself, not the ally, but the slave of Hitler; in that one dreadful act there were the inevitable seeds of all the seven years that followed.

Of course the Cuban Communist about-face is not on the same level. It does not, for one thing, represent the State suddenly turning a hate-ridden and murderous face to a class of citizens it had always protected before. Where murderousness and inhumanity are concerned, el partido is pretty much where it has always been, not better, but not worse. What is clearly reminiscent of Mussolini is the way that a tyranny throws away decades of practice and implicit principle, however bad, not out of principle but out of transparent and undignified grovelling before an ally.
fpb: (Default)
When it was a matter of getting herself some publicity, Nicole Kidman got herself married to her current partner in a Catholic church, and in white, yet. You may remember my cynicism on the matter.

Now she takes the protagonist role in the movie of Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass, and even has the cheek to assure us that as she is so profoundly Catholic, she would never take a Catholic-bashing role, and therefore we may be sure that this is not a Catholic-bashing story at all.

I was insufficiently cynical about Ms.Kidman. It seems clear that her "Catholic" identity is nothing more than an asset to be spent in public when convenient for her and her employers. She is a cold, conscious, deliberate liar. And incidentally, Philip Pullman, who seems to have deliberately toned down his rants against God and the Church for the occasion of this movie's release, comes across as nearly as unprincipled.

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