A friend reminded us on Facebook that today, 8 May, is the anniversary of the end of the War in Europe when Fascism was thankfully defeated. I responded with a brief supportive message:
‘”¡No pasarÃ¡n!”. Fascism is still alive and well disguised in many other names and supported by self serving people with very short memories. “¡No pasarÃ¡n!”‘
Then I felt uncomfortable. I sat restlessly staring at the statement and repeating “¡No pasarÃ¡n!” remembering my father in law’s stories of the Battle of Cable Street and of his Socialist Sunday School.
I also remembered being fascinated by his stories of George Orwell visiting him and his comrades. I was desperate to hear more about Orwell and kept pestering for stories about him. What was he like? What did he say? All I got was that he said nothing because he had been injured in his throat and that his eating habits were a trifle off putting – probably because of his injury!
Meanwhile, the great warrior against fascism, my father in law, objected to his daughter marrying one of “them Arabs”. His wife spent an inordinate amount of time, before meeting me, seeking to know the precise colour of my skin. Her daughter used coffee and kept adding milk until she got the right sable hue required to put her mother’s mind at ease! I was not too dark and did not risk offending her sensitive supremacist soul.
I was too young and too naive then to see any contradiction in this behaviour. I laughed it off because I loved these racists’ daughter. When my father in law, hearing that I was a Palestinian, informed me that his great hero was Ben Gurion and that Israel was our Palestinian’s saviour, I was bemused. But again, God forgive me, I smiled politely because I believed that it was his democratic right to support whoever and whatever he wanted.
His passion for justice really spilled over when he talked about blocking the way of Black Shirts in the East End of London. And this was just before he went on to cry because his daughter was marrying a man likely to dump her because as a “Muslim that’s what you people do”. Why couldn’t she marry that nice white boy next door?
Over forty years later, he and his wife have gone to the Marxist heaven above, his daughter dumped me for someone else and I am more confused than ever by today’s smug politics.
“¡No pasarÃ¡n!”? “¡No pasarÃ¡n!”?
Unfortunately, they have passed and they are still passing over and over and over again.
They have different names, but their impact is the same. Kiev politicos who rant and rave against Russians and Jews. Israelis who demonise Palestinians. Americans who seek to strike anyone who disagrees with their policies. Prime Ministers who cheerfully talk of Muslims as if they had horns on their heads. Army officers who oust a democratically elected President for the good of the people and then announce their intention to run for President with all opposition crushed and under the threat of death sentences by kangaroo courts. An unelected President who holds on to power at the expense of hundreds of thousands killed and millions driven away from their homeland. An absolute Monarch who uses internal security to keep his people under an iron fist. Dysfunctional countries where hundreds – including school girls – are kidnapped or killed in the name of a faith distorted by political opportunists. The list is endless.
I can still hear my rather unsavoury father in law reciting, and occasionally singing, rather badly, in the best revolutionary tradition, the words from 1936:
“And so we learn from history generations have to fight
And those who crave for mastery
Must be faced down on sight
And if that means by words, by fists, by stones or by the gun
Remember those who stood up for
Their daughters and their sons
Listen to the sound of marching feet
And the voices of the ghosts of Cable Street
Fists and stones and batons and the gun
With courage we shall beat those blackshirts down.”
Ignore the deplorable rhymes, the awful rhythm, the erroneous punctuation and the ridiculous warlike sentiments. These were uplifting, courageous and well meant but meaningless words – like Obama’s endless promises – full of “sound and fury signifying nothing”.
So, is fascism dead and gone?
Patently not. Sadly not. Inhumanly not.
A new fascism has emerged. A kind of ugly comical Alf Garnett with a gun.
The old fascism was in direct contrast to left wing politics of the times. Indeed, fascism built its power base on fear of ungodly Communism.
Today, it is more complex. It is not so much distinguished by its glaring racism, its inhuman construct and cruel imperatives and other such qualities that distinguish it from other political movements today. It is distinguished by its semblance of normalcy, its polite acceptability, its human face, its suit and tie image… Fascism today lies in the allowing of that which at one point did elicit disapproval and a fight back.
Today it is acceptable to talk about keeping Europe white, as if ethnic minorities were an infectious disease spreading, malignantly unnoticed. It is all right to attack gays, divorcees, eccentrics, Jews, Muslims, Christians in the name of personal freedoms marshalled by freedom of speech. It is all right to steal as long as it is done in the best tradition of the Oxford University Said School of Business. It is clever to lie if it makes one a fortune. It is great to have endless numbers of children for one’s personal entertainment and topic of endless trivial conversations without the slightest effort being made to bring them up even reasonably well. It is normal to nurture one’s capacious backside on a settee whilst ignoring one’s children and endlessly making cretinous entries about their ingratitude on Facebook. It is perfectly okay not to work and to live on benefits even if one is perfectly healthy and strong – oafish dependency becoming increasingly the norm. It is acceptable to be racist as long as we are polite about it. It is normal for the Prime Minister to link Islam to terror in the House every time he is short of something to say. It is as would be expected to deny the Holocaust and rewrite history at will. It is good to destroy teachers and blight children’s education in the name of accountability through a third rate inspection service run by people who were last in the classroom some thirty or more years ago… Readers can add an endless list of fascistic behaviours.
My friend, “hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblable, mon frÃ¨re!”, they have passed a long time ago and they live in our very midst and all over the land.Tags: Middle-East
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi