Monday, October 29, 2007

Accentuate The Negative ...

The BBC mangle history yet again.

The Vatican has beatified 498 Roman Catholics executed during the Spanish Civil War, in the largest ceremony of its kind ever held. Most of the victims - nearly all of whom were clergy - were killed at the outset of the war in 1936, by militias fighting for the Republican government.

So far, so factual

The move has been criticised by some because it recognises victims from only one side of the brutal conflict ... The Roman Catholic Church was closely linked with the right-wing forces of General Francisco Franco, who won the war in 1939 and went on to impose nearly four decades of dictatorship. Many people think that by honouring the victims from only one side of the Civil War, the Roman Catholic Church is dividing Spaniards, says the BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid.

I see. Why don't the Vatican remember the monks and priests shot by the Nationalists, eh ? We're into classic BBC country here, with the use of "many people think" and "criticised by some". Those damn anonymous people !

The 498 victims included two bishops, 24 priests, 462 monks and nuns, three church staff and seven lay people. They were among an estimated 7,000 clergy killed by left-wing Republican forces between 1931 and 1939.

Hold on. 7,000 dead ? Left-wing republican forces were killing clergy from 1931 ? The Civil War started in 1936 ! And the BBC's position is that "the Roman Catholic Church was closely linked with the right-wing forces of General Francisco Franco" ? Given the anti-clericalist culture of the Spanish Left, including a penchant for shooting priests, they didn't really have too much choice in a war, did they ? Not something the BBC wants us to recognise, though.

And note the little box on the right of the graphics version.

"Nationalists also had support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while Republicans were backed by Soviet Union." We get to know about the political systems of Germany (Nazi) and Italy (Fascist). Alas, the political system of the Soviet Union will forever be a mystery to BBC readers.

(For those of us brought up on Orwell and Hemingway it's something of a rude awakening to read about the Left's response to the opening of the Civil War - namely the wholesale rounding up and execution without trial of anyone suspected of right-wing views, sympathies or family connections. The historian Stanley Payne described the atrocities as beginning "with the murder of some of the rebels as they attempted to surrender after their revolt had failed in several of the key cities. From there it broadened out to wholesale arrests, and sometimes wholesale executions, of people associated with right-wing groups or the Catholic church. In general, this was not an irrepressible outpouring of hatred by the man in the street for his "oppressors," as it has sometimes been painted, but a semi-organized activity carried out by sections of nearly all the leftist groups ... particularly during the first six months, each Red terror group operated on its own in a frequently irrational fashion, murdering innocent people and letting some of the more dangerous go free. Moreover, one of the main targets of the Red terror was the clergy, most of whom were not engaged in overt opposition.")

Biretta-tip - Martin Kelly.