Back in the 1990s, British-American classicist, Bernard Knox, related how he became aware of the term “premature anti-Fascist.” Knox was interviewing in 1946 for entry into the PhD program at Yale. Knox had just left his distinguished wartime service in the U.S. Army:
The [interviewing] Professor, who had himself served in the US Army in 1917-18, was very interested [in Knox's military record], and remarked on the fact that, in addition to the usual battle-stars for service in the European Theatre, I had been awarded a Croix de Guerre a l’Ordre de l’Armée, the highest category for that decoration.
Asked how I got it, I explained that, in July 1944, I had parachuted, in uniform, behind the Allied lines in Brittany to arm and organize French Resistance forces and hold them ready for action at the moment most useful for the Allied advance. “Why were you selected for that operation?” he asked, and I told him that I was one of the few people in the US Army who could speak fluent, idiomatic, and (if necessary) pungently coarse French. When he asked me where I had learned it, I told him that I had fought in 1936 on the northwest sector of the Madrid front in the French Battalion of the XIth International Brigade.
“Oh,” he said, “You were a premature anti-Fascist.” [emphasis added]
Last month’s violent Ukrainian coup d’état has garnered more attention than any of the other coups taking out democratically elected administrations during the Obama period. In spite of the fact that the 2009 Honduran coup was in our own hemisphere, it received very little attention in the U.S. media. The Ukrainian coup is being portrayed by U.S. and western European media as somehow democratically inspired. Valid questions about how it was funded and supported aren’t getting much play at MSNBC, ABC, CBS, FOX or NPR. Rather, the attention has been on the response of the Russian government to an event these outlets personify in the body of Vladimir Putin. U.S. media gets worse at covering issues by the day, it seems.
Articles in the alternative media are asking these questions, though. Here at firedoglake there have been a good number of them. Two articles appearing elsewhere since the coup’s seeming success impress me as being deep in their detail of some pretty damning evidence of a fascist resurgence at play here. Max Blumenthal’s article, Is the US backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?, appeared in late February. However Justin Raimondo’s essay at antiwar.com, A Monster Reawakens: The Rise of Ukrainian Fascism, is unblinking:
For the first time since 1933, the followers of a movement that valorizes Adolf Hitler and preaches anti-Semitism has entered a European government. The German Nazis, too, were part of a “coalition” government, the other members of which thought they could contain or even “tame” them and prevent a Communist takeover. They were tragically wrong – and the United States and its European allies are taking the same road in backing Hitler’s heirs in Ukraine.
Of course the majority of the government’s supporters are hardly hardcore neo-Nazis: but that isn’t necessary to make this a precedent the West will live to regret. [emphasis added]
Raimondo lists the new “interim government” fascists appointed to key cabinet and administrative posts:
Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, now a top official of the Ukrainian Parliament, is an unrepentant anti-Semite. In the summer of 2004, he made a speech to his followers at the gravesite of a Banderist commander in which he declared: “You are the ones that the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine fears most.” His peroration also made reference to “Kikes” as prominent among those the Banderists fought. Tyahnybok was expelled from Parliament for his remarks, but the “revolution” has installed him back in his seat – and more powerful than ever.
He has plenty of company. Svoboda activists, who already held seats in Parliament, hold no less than eight top Cabinet positions:
- Ihor Tenyukh – interim defense minister and a member of Svoboda’s political council. Formerly commander of Ukraine’s navy, in 2008, during Russia’s war with Georgia, he ordered Ukrainian warships to block the entrance of the Russian Navy to the bay of Sevastopol.
- Andriy Parubiy – National Security Council chief, co-founded Svoboda back when it was the “Social National” (ahem!) party.
- Dmytro Yarosh – deputy head of the National Security Council, i.e. the police, and the founder-leader of “Right Sector,” a militant neo-Nazi paramilitary group that took charge of security in the Maiden.
- Oleh Makhnitsky – Svoboda member of parliament, is prosecutor-general.
- Oleksandr Sych – Svoboda parliamentarian and the party’s chief ideologist, is deputy prime minister for economic affairs.
- Serhiy Kvit – a leading member of Svoboda, is to head up the Education Ministry.
- Andriy Moknyk – the new Minister of Ecology, has been Svoboda’s envoy to other European fascist parties. Last year, he met with representatives of Italy’s violent neo-fascist gang, Forza Nuovo.
- Ihor Shvaika – agro-oligarch and a member of Svoboda, has been appointed Minister of Agriculture. One of the richest men in the country, his massive investments in agriculture would seem to indicate a slight conflict of interest.
Blumenthal’s article was written before most of these “interim” posts were filled. However, he followed the street battles closely:
White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protestersdestroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.
And, typical of Blumenthal, he included some wry humor:
An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.”
Will the U.S. and western European media begin to cover the fascist component of this coup more studiously?
What do you think?
Meanwhile, will excellent authors and essayists such as Blumenthal and Raimondo be labeled by coup supporters and their sidekicks as “premature anti-fascists”?
Photo by Jose Luis Orihuela released under a Creative Commons license.