In its Sunday, 7 May, edition, La Vanguardia, a leading Spanish newspaper published in Barcelona, ran a very strong opinion piece by its contributor John Carlin paying homage to Ukraine and its freedom-loving people and denouncing those who tolerate, or are even apologetic for, Russia’s current form of home-grown fascism.
This article in Spanish, focusing on the need for moral clarity and arguing that Putin’s Russia should be seen for it really is – the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany - deserves to be more widely noted.
Carlin is of Scottish-Spanish descent, Oxford educated, and a renowned writer and journalist. His credentials for writing about moral issues, human rights and crimes against humanity are impeccable.
Earlier in his career, the award-winning British journalist and author covered South Africa and his book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, was the basis for the 2009 film Invictus.
Mandela said of Carlin's journalism in 1998: "What you wrote and the way in which you carried out your task in this country was absolutely magnificent…it was absolutely inspiring. You have been very courageous, saying things which many journalists would never say."
Now, writing in La Vanguardia in the moral tradition and political style of that great British anti-totalitarian George Orwell, Carlin castigates Moscow's “fellow travelers” and “useful idiots" who turn a blind eye to massive crimes being committed today by Putin’s anti-Western imperialist state. He compares them to those who in the 1930s did not want to acknowledge Stalin's atrocitiess, including the “made in Moscow” Holodomor artificial famine which killed millions of Ukrainians between 1932 and 1933.
Carlin reveals that he has just returned from an 11-day trip to Ukraine and where he witnessed “a heroic people united by a universal cause, the defense of Freedom.”
He stresses, “never in the 30 years since I covered the decline of apartheid in South Africa have I had a sense of greater moral clarity, of being more in possession of the truth, understanding a conflict so black and white, of being devoid of all ambiguity.”
He affirms: “I stand with the Ukrainians in their hatred of Putin and the amoral nihilism” of his war against them. Carlin would have no moral problem sitting down to talk with people of with different political views – whether Brexiters, Republicans, Peronists, radicals – but not anyone who condones Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Trying to find common ground with them,” he explains, “would be as useless as trying to find common ground with a medieval bishop in favor of burning heretics at the stake.” He would get up and leave, for “we occupy two moral universes.”
Those who prefer to remain silent or indifferent, also repel him. He reminds us that, according to Dante, “the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in the midst of a moral crisis.”
And he also invokes Orwell who in 1942, as World War II raged, reminded pacifists: “Pacificism is objectively pro-fascist. We are talking about the most elementary common sense. If you inhibit the war effort of one side, you are automatically benefiting the other side.”
In today’s conditions Carlin concludes, “pacifist neutrality” of whatever sort in not only “totally incomprehensible” but morally repugnant.
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