North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un has launched a new video featuring him overseeing the launch of his nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – thus proving Vladimir Putin is not the Eastern Hemisphere’s only raving lunatic.
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“When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. But when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.”
– Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara
Last month marked the 45th anniversary of the death of Francisco Franco, Western Europe’s last dictator. Afterwards Spain finally transitioned into a democratic state; something it had tried when it elected a new government in 1931. During the “Second Republic”, Spaniards deposed King Alfonso XIII and reduced the powers of the military, the Roman Catholic Church and property-owning elites. But, just two years later, a center-right coalition won a majority in the elections and they brought in Franco. Franco had gained some notoriety for fighting against an insurgency in Spanish-controlled Morocco amidst World War I. In 1926, at the age of 33, he became the youngest general in all of Europe. But, as the “Second Republic” proceeded, Franco grew critical of the new government and was subsequently banned to a military outpost in the Canary Islands. By 1936 right-wing extremists had fomented plans for a military coup. Apparently Franco was initially opposed, but joined the effort as it took shape.
The 1936-39 Spanish Civil War actually began in Morocco, as right-wing activists launched concerted efforts to regain control. By 1939 they had won – at the cost of 1 million lives – and Franco became Spain’s eminent ruler. Spain’s “White Terror” induced a culture of repression and execution; a persecution of democratic supporters of a truly tolerant government. Civil wars in any country are brutal and destructive, and Spain’s conflict was no different. During Franco’s reign, an estimated 150,000 people were executed or mysteriously vanished. That’s a modest assessment. Personally, as with the Nazi Holocaust or the Cambodian massacre, I believe the official estimates are politically polite.
Early last month a friend posted a photo (a formal portrait) of Franco on his Facebook page. One of his friends replied by declaring that Franco would have never let Spain become the socialist state it is now. I responded by noting that Franco was a dictator who opposed free speech and freedom of religion. Franco imprisoned and executed thousands of political opponents, while thousands more disappeared. Like Argentina, Guatemala and other Latin American nations, Spain emerged as a totalitarian state, where anyone who dared criticize the leadership was deemed a rebel and summarily prosecuted. No one among the Spanish populace ostensibly was brave enough to stand up to such totalitarian shenanigans, until Franco died. But it is what it is. Calls for revolution are always easier than actually revolting.
I don’t believe either my friend or his friend responded to my comment. I guess I should have been shocked by the aforementioned Facebook posts. But ultimately it didn’t surprise me, since my friend is a devotee of Donald Trump. He once posted photos of himself and Spanish dignitaries at a diplomatic function in Houston. But seeing his post about Franco angered me.
I’ve noticed some conservatives hold a certain degree of sentimentality for dictators and autocrats. Hence Trump’s conciliatory behavior towards the likes of Russia’s Vladimir Putin or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Both Putin and Jong Un live in relative luxury, while essentially holding an iron grip on power. North Korea is particularly egregious in this dichotomy. They still won’t acknowledge the brutal severity of a 1990s-era famine in which up to 3.5 million people perished.
Trump is also in line with Brazil’s Jair Bolsarano who openly longed for the period of the nation’s military rule; a time when – like many other nations in Latin America – thousands disappeared, were imprisoned or turned up dead. Bolsarano has often been dubbed as “Trump of the Tropics”.
I’m sure the analogy flattered Bolsarano, and it sounds appropriate. Like Trump Bolsarano denounced COVID-19 as a “little flu” and downplayed it, even when he contracted the virus. As with any European-style colonialist, Bolsarano lamented that Brazil didn’t succeed in eliminating the nation’s indigenous populations. He doesn’t seem to realize North America’s indigenous peoples were NOT completely obliterated from the continent. Yet, Bolsarano ultimately will go to his grave knowing his sanguineous ideals failed. And I couldn’t be happier.
I also couldn’t be happier knowing Donald Trump will NOT be President of the United States after noon (EST) on January 20, 2021. Fortunately, our beloved democratic process functioned as designed last month. The United States isn’t like Franco’s Spain or Latin America of the past; where military dictatorships commanded every aspect of people’s lives, or like Putin’s Russia where one person can hold the reins of power for infinite years, or Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea where a single clan of dynastic brutes can cripple the minds and bodies of their subjects.
I feel Donald Trump came as close to an autocrat as we’ve ever had. It was a frightening prospect, especially knowing he actually wanted to delay the November 3 elections.
But American democracy prevailed over Trump’s fascist tendencies. That’s how all civilized societies should operate.
On this day in 1953, an armistice was signed in Panmunjon, Korea, ending the Korean War. The conflict lasted all of three years and thirty-two days, but it took the lives of some 5 million people – civilians and military – and split the Korean Peninsula between the democratic Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the oppressive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
Often called the “Forgotten War,” the conflagration had its beginnings with the conclusion of another bloody conflict. As the world celebrated the end of World War II in 1945, the Korean Peninsula split along the 38th parallel; essentially becoming two nations. In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly approved of open elections for the establishment of a provisional government. Communist forces opposed the elections, but they were held in the southern half in May of 1948. The elections created a national assembly, which in turn, established the Republic of Korea (ROK). In response, residents in the north created the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – an ironic name considering the nation’s current reputation for brutality. The U.S. removed its last troops from Korea in 1949, and the DPRK saw an opportunity to invade its southern neighbors.
The war known for its battles amidst wretched winters actually began in summer. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) attacked the ROK with the backing of the Soviet Union. The U.S. quickly returned to back the ROK.
It’s a shame – an extreme disservice – that the Korean War is occasionally referred to as the “Forgotten War.” My father served in the U.S. Army during that mess and, like anyone involved, he hasn’t forgotten a single thing about it. Certainly, there’s nothing to forget about 5 million deaths.
“Let me remind the gay rights fanatics, North Korea plans to send a nuclear warhead our way. There’s a terrible price to pay for outright rebellion against the Holy God of Israel and your sins are going to get us all killed. When the full communist revolution gets underway [in America], why do you think Homeland Security is stockpiling billions of rounds of hollow point ammo? It’s not to protect you and me. They’re setting up ammo depots for Obama’s commie army.”
– Pastor Rick Wiles, of TruNews Radio, who has said (among many other things) that God will send a scourge of locusts to take out President Obama and that IRS SWAT teams will start shooting at people attending church.
Is he serious? I didn’t know the IRS has its own SWAT team! Cool! Maybe they can finally invade Wall Street!
Or, should that be lore? The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official news source for North Korea, announced recently that archaeologists in the capital of Pyongyang have discovered the lair of a unicorn once ridden by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom, which ruled the Korean Peninsula and parts of China from 277 B.C. to A.D. 668. The KCNA states that the “lair” is some 200 meters from a temple in Pyongyang; adding that: “A rectangular rock carved with words “Unicorn Lair” stands in front of the lair.” Well, what the hell else would it say?! No word yet on whether the unicorn is part of the same genus as the legendary European uni-horned stallion, or a completely different species. Hopefully, they’ll be able to extract some DNA from the animal’s remains and put to rest rumors that this story is a massive hoax concocted by some mad scientist with bad hair.