Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 3,000 Americans Who Fought Fascism Before World War II - Jeremy Scahill

intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
For Whom the Trump Trolls
What the Abraham Lincoln Brigade can teach us about fighting fascism in the 21st century.
I've always been fascinated by the Lincoln Brigade and tried to imagine myself doing anything like it and I came up short. I think I would have hidden under the bed. One of the older teaching guys I knew in my early days of activism once showed us a bullet wound on his foot from the Lincoln Brigade times. I admire people who put their lives on the line for their beliefs even in a lost cause.

Here is an interview on Intercepted by Jeremy Scahill:
In 1936, young Americans began heading over to Spain to confront the rise of fascism in Europe. They became known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. In all, an estimated nearly 3,000 Americans fought in the Spanish Civil War. Spain was viewed as an early front line in the battle against fascism in Europe and these young Americans joined volunteers from across the globe who came to Spain to fight against fascist forces led by General Francisco Franco. Franco was a murderous thug and an ally of Mussolini and Hitler. And eventually, he became a great ally of the United States government.
While the story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade is not often told or recalled in the modern era, it should be. It is a story of young Americans, many of them immigrants, laborers, and workers, who saw the dangers of fascism years before the U.S. government got militarily involved in the war against Hitler and his allies and the point where the mythical history of the fight against fascism in Europe taught in many U.S. schools begins. The Lincoln Brigade deployed to fight fascism before it spread while powerful American businesses and government officials supported Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco or feigned neutrality that actually amounted to aiding fascism.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump held a joint press conference with the Spanish prime minister. The timing was interesting, given that the Spanish government is at this moment forcefully seeking to stop a referendum on independence in Catalonia. Donald Trump seemed confused about the difference between Spain’s prime minister and its president, but he nonetheless made clear where he stands on this issue. “I speak as the president of the United States, as somebody that has great respect for your president, and also has really great respect for your country,” Trump said, standing next to the Spanish prime minister. “I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain.  I think it would be foolish not to.  Because you’re talking about staying with a truly great, beautiful, and very historic country.”
It’s interesting that while Trump uses his generic filler for countries he doesn’t know much about — great, historic, beautiful — the U.S. relationship with Spain for many decades was one of normalizing the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Franco. It is unlikely Trump knows much, if anything, about Franco, but he would have loved the dictator who ruled until his death in 1975. Franco’s whole agenda was framed around Making Spain Great Again: shield it from foreign influence; preserve its conservative brand of Catholicism; fascism masquerading as proud nationalism.
There is a lot of debate and discussion today over the tactics of the groups and people generally referred to as Antifa. And it has become a regular talking point of Democrats and some liberal pundits to equate Antifa with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists being more and more empowered by this administration. This both-sides-are-wrong mentality has been used throughout history to forgive the crimes of right-wing fascist movements.
The veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were celebrated as heroes and visionaries who saw the threat early and tried to stop it. But as U.S. interests shifted, they soon became targets of anti-communist witch hunts. And today, they are seldom mentioned, even though they fought and died to defeat fascism before the U.S. ever entered World War II. This story is vital for all of us to study, particularly in this moment in history.
On the Intercepted podcast this week, we dug deep into this history with NYU professor James Fernandez. He is on the board of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive. What follows is the entire transcript of that interview, an excerpt of which was broadcast on Intercepted.
Full interview below:


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