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From Spain to Syria

From Spain to Syria

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Published by Ian Williams
Appeared in Tribune, FPIF and Huff Post.
Appeared in Tribune, FPIF and Huff Post.

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Published by: Ian Williams on Jun 13, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/14/2013

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George Orwell understood that ignoring obvious horrors for expediency’ssake is a roadblock
to
justice.
The
New Statesman
recently reminisced about its former editor Kingsley Martin’s feud with
Tribune’s
former literary editor George Orwell about the latter’sattempt to tell the whole truth about the Spanish War. Martin preferred the commodity doled outsparingly, for which Orwell never forgave him.Like many people who would otherwise swear by the truth as an abstract principle, Martin madeit a partisan issue for the “cause.” Orwell, of course, often defied such criticism: that to tell the truthwould harm the war effort, or harm unity with the part of the so-called left that had tried to kill himin Spain and was busily executing Socialists across Eastern Europe. Interestingly, twenty yearsafter the fall of the Soviet Union, its ghosts haunt Orwell’s reputation yet, with vitriolic detractorswhose ad-hominem hatred has almost forgotten its original roots in the purges and nowuncontested mass murders of the era.Veracity as a sacred principle has lots of small-print exceptions for so many people. It would be“bad for Israel,” or bad for the Palestinians. Over years of writing, I’ve been told I couldn’t say“that” about Militant in Liverpool, New Labour, UN corruption, and many other causes. In an eerieecho of Martin in the
Statesman,
I was told that the Nation in the US had a line, so we could notwrite anything about intervention in Kosovo that was not outright condemnation. It would “aidimperialism” to say that Slobodan Milosevic built his power on unleashing genocidal impulses.The Hapsburg lip allegedly led generations of sycophantic dons into emulatory lisps -- which is aminor lapse -- the compared to all those who joined committees to “defend” Rwandan and Balkanmass murderers against “imperialist” justice. All of us practice a partial vision some extent. Someone might indeed be very ugly, but itbehooves us not to point that out. But like the emperor with his new clothes, if such a politicalfigure poses publicly, then it is indeed a writer’s duty to mention their absence of raiment.Recent weeks have seen some outstanding examples of reckless candour that deserveapplause and support. Bradley Manning revealed clear examples of crimes by the Pentagon,notably the murder of a Reuters camera team in Baghdad and the gunning down of innocentcivilians coming to help the wounded. It is worth recalling that the Pentagon lied to Reuter’s legalFreedom of Information request by claiming the video was lost.He deserves all-out support from journalists, not the mumbling diffidence of the
New York Times
that published his revelations while abandoning their source. Similarly, one hopes thatrevelations that Edward Snowden supported deranged libertarian right-winger Ron Paul will notdetract from support for his deed revealing, dare one say, Orwellian, government surveillancethat would have Big Brother green with envy!One other, almost unrecognised act of non-partisan balance, has come from the UN, in its reports

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