July 24, 2005


Where the Right Is Right (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 7/24/05, NY Times)

Liberals took the lead in championing human rights abroad in the 1970's, while conservatives mocked the idea. But these days liberals should be embarrassed that it's the Christian Right that is taking the lead in spotlighting repression in North Korea.

Perhaps no country in human history has ever been as successful at totalitarianism as North Korea. Koreans sent back from China have been herded like beasts, with wires forced through their palms or under their collarbones. People who steal food have been burned at the stake, with their relatives recruited to light the match. Then there was the woman who was a true believer and suggested that the Dear Leader should stop womanizing: after she was ordered executed, her own husband volunteered to pull the trigger.

"The biggest scandal in progressive politics," Tony Blair told The New Yorker this year, "is that you do not have people with placards out in the street on North Korea. I mean, that is a disgusting regime. The people are kept in a form of slavery, 23 million of them, and no one protests!"

Actually, some people do protest. Conservative Christians have aggressively taken up the cause of North Korean human rights in the last few years, and the movement is gathering steam.

Of course, nothing's changed. The regimes the Left opposed in the '70s were those like Spain, Chile, S. Korea. S. Vietnam, S. Africa, El Salvador, Taiwan, etc., which were not only allies but putting in place the foundations for what would later be smooth and easy transition to full democracy (those that survived anyway). They blithely ignored the oppression in N. Korea, N. Vietnam, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the rest of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, they sought to work out a modus vivendi with them in the form of detente. It was the Right, led by Ronald Reagan that brought human rights to most of these countries -- allies and enemies -- by winning the Cold War. Similarly, today it is the religious Right that is bringing human rights to everywhere from Afghanistan and Iraq to Sudan and East Timor and will eventually be responsible for bringing them to the last few utopias of Leftism: N. Korea, Cuba and China as well as Africa and the Middle East..

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2005 9:54 AM

Let's see, admiration for North Korea a "scandal in progressive politics." What kind of "progress" have these "progressives" ben advocating?

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 24, 2005 12:41 PM

In general, conservatives are willing to give our allies more slack, partially because they're our allies and partially because those governments are more on the Right.

In general, liberals are willing to be tougher on our allies, basically for the same two reasons.

Posted by: John Thacker at July 24, 2005 3:51 PM

Our pastor makes no left/right distinction when it comes to condemning persecution from the pulpit. Recently we had a message from a visiting missionary working under very difficult conditions in Myanmar -- "right-wing" for those keeping score.

Posted by: Gideon at July 24, 2005 7:01 PM

Even more telling are the regimes the left supported;
30's/40's Stalinism in Russa, Mussolini (sic) and even Hitler (until he showed he'd bamboozled "Uncle Joe").
In the 50's/60's it was Mao and all the petty Napleons of the anti-colonialist "3rd world"
In the 70's it was all the murderers and rulers for life the 50's/60's created with the lefts help.
Now to the 80's when their support returned to the Soviets and any puppet regime they may have set up/supported, Nicarauga, Cuba et al.
For the 90's, they denied most of their history and said they'd really supported freedom under a rule of law all along. Except for the new Terrorism of Islam, where the left turned a blind eye.

Posted by: Mike Daley at July 24, 2005 8:29 PM

Mike Daley:

And don't forget about that "despicable" Shah of Iran, which led to an Ayatollah-led revolution - and a probable atomic bomb in the hands of Islamofascists!

Posted by: obc at July 24, 2005 9:35 PM

Francisco Franco: putting in place the foundations for what would later be smooth and easy transition to full democracy for 40 years.

A noble record.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 24, 2005 9:44 PM

Worked and kept his nation out of WWII and gave them exemplary growth in the 50s and 60s. What other continental nation had as good a forty years? Only Switzerland?

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2005 9:52 PM

I never had you pegged for such a soulless materialist, Orrin. Me, I prefer an admixture of...freedom.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 24, 2005 10:06 PM

and how many dead Americans, French, British, Germans, Poles, Russians, Italians....etc.?

Pretty high butcher bill you're willing to accept while he kept Spaniards safe, saving Jews all the while...

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2005 10:15 PM

Change the URL to marshallpetain.blogspot.com if you want to lionize peole who ept their countries "safe" in World War II.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 24, 2005 10:21 PM

The Nazis occupied France, the French fought against the Allies in North Africa, and the French shipped Jews East as fast as neighbors turned them in.

Franco kept the Nazis out, Hitler away from Gibraltar and saved enough Jews that he's considered a Righteous Person. No national leader did better by his people in WWII.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2005 10:27 PM

Yes, keep defending deal-cutters with Hitler, and call me an enemy of freedom. And, to boot, suck up fascist propaganda! Yad Vashem says no such thing. They place the blood of thousands of Jews on his hands.

www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/ Microsoft%20Word%20-%206034.pdf

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at July 24, 2005 10:42 PM


He cut deals with Hitler and kept him out of Spain. We cut deals with Stalin and handed him all of Eastern Europe. Meanwhile he saved anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 Jews at the risk of his uneasy truce with Hitler (http://www.bnaibrith.ca/article.php?id=292). Franco sleeps better at night than FDR does.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2005 11:22 PM

The record of Franco is pretty easy to understand.

There is no serious question that he saved many Jews. One of my father's friends, Jacques Schwarz, is one. The Vichy had a law which ordered all non-French born Jews to be rounded up and deported(the legal basis for deporting Robert Clary of Hogan's Heroes fame). Jacques, Romanian-born but living in Toulouse, snuck across the border and the Fascist Spanish regime did not send him back, as they certainly could have. The wealthiest family in Spain is the Lebowitz sisters, the daughters of a Polish Jewish real estate developer who got into Spain in WWII.

What Franco's reasons are is unclear, but Franco is a commonplace Sephardic name and is an unusual name for Gallegans, the people of Franco's home province.

The 'exemplary growth' is only so in relative terms. After WWII, Spain was on its a$$. It was bankrupt, it's most important neighbor, France, wanted nothing to do with them. Britain, their long-time #1 trading partner, wanted nothing to do with them. Their economy was trapped in decrepit, bloated, Catholic corporatism. The place nearly erupted in Communist revolt.

The unsung hero of the story is Manuel Fraga, a British educated economist who because he was an Opista and a Gallegan rose to high rank in the Spanish hierarchy. Pretty much every reform in the Spanish economy in the 50s and 60s that gave them growth was his doing.

Spanish emigration to Latin America, to such economic powerhouses as Colombia, Argentina and Mexico continued unabated into the 1970s. In fact, in terms of emigration it took until the recent banking crisis in Argentina for there to be more Argentines moving to Spain than Spaniards going to Argentina.

The facts then are simple. He saved some Jews, perhaps easily assimilable ones, or ones who had money, but that is more than a lot of other neutrals(Ireland, Switzerland did, and a helluva lot more than supposed allies like Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Britain did.

Franco was a general. He was completely clueless about governance or economics. When he had good advisors he did well and did decent things. Where he was poorly advised he did lousy things. He wanted a clerically dominated state with limited personal freedom. Spaniards of all ideological colors have rejected this.

He could have been both worse and better.

Posted by: bart at July 25, 2005 6:57 AM