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Belmont Club

The Fifth Column

April 22nd, 2013 - 2:05 pm

Most younger people have probably heard of the phrase Fifth Column only from 1940s movies and cartoons. It refers to what would today be called “sleeper cells”.  The phrase itself was coined by Emilio Mola, who fighting on the side of Franco for Madrid declared that in addition to the four columns marching on the city there existed a “fifth column” of supporters waiting in the city.  The first hunters of the “Fifth Column” were of course the Communists. And to demonstrate the original understanding of the term note that Ernest Hemingway wrote a play of the same title, which was a flop.

The Fifth Column is generally regarded (when it is regarded at all) to be something of an anomaly in the Hemingway canon. The author’s only full-length play, and one which has garnered little critical or commercial attention, it is, as John Raeburn diplomatically puts it, a work “not integral to [Hemingway's] literary reputation”

In it Hemingway’s hero hunts down fascists.

The play concerns the activities of counter-espionage agent Philip Rawlings, a hard-drinking man’s man and Communist party operative posing as a war correspondent. He works out of the Florida hotel [the 'Florida' being the name of the hotel in Spain], tracking down members of the “fifth column,” Fascist sympathizers working from within against Loyalist-defended Madrid. … Philip captures a fifth column member whose confession under torture leads to the discovery of three hundred more fifth columnists.

Hemingway’s play was forgotten for decades, but it was revived in 2008 with a few changes, one being that the characters no longer called each other “comrade” on stage.

But that illustrates the context.  Historically the “sleeper cells” sought out by progressives weren’t terror cells from another culture. The sleepers were people who looked just like them, indistinguishable except in one respect: that you couldn’t call them “comrade”.

And that made all the difference.  Throughout the Second World War the true believers were fighting for a foreign power. Some for Hitler. Some for Stalin. The good guys and bad guys were distinguished not by their nationality but by their world view. God and Country were a pose along with the imposture of being a “war correspondent”  at the Florida hotel.

It was inside baseball all the way.

That goes a long way toward explaining why Western governments support the deportation of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children back to Germany. “The Romeike family fled their German homeland in 2008 seeking political asylum in the United States — where they hoped to home school their children. Instead, the Obama administration wants the evangelical Christian family deported.”

At issue is the question of whether they can defy the German law against homeschooling their children. The German Supreme Court has ruled that it wants to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies” — thus preventing the development of a 5th Column.  In pursuit of that policy goal the Romeikes were fined and punished; and so they fled to the US to avoid ‘persecution’. Or so they thought.

But the Obama administration isn’t buying it.

The Obama administration is arguing in federal court that a homeschooling family from Germany should be deported back to their homeland, despite what they say is religious persecution. The German government prevented Uwe and Hannelore Romeike from teaching their five children at home instead of sending them to government-run schools, fining them and threatening to prosecute them if they don’t obey.

Fifth Column

One can’t help but think it is in part because the Romeikes are the wrong sort of ideologues. If they were the right kind they might get a more sympathetic hearing. Recently a Nigerian man was granted asylum in the United States because he was gay and feared persecution in his home country.

In 1994, the Board of Immigration Appeals at U.S. Immigration declared asylum for a gay man from Cuba, essentially including sexual orientation as a new criterion.

“Since then, it’s increasingly become an accepted reason for someone to seek asylum if they fear for their safety or freedom,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality.

Immigration Equality. It’s hard not to think that some are more equal than others. The Romeikes are from one point of view simply the wrong version of the Tsarnaevs. Tamerlan Tsarnaev married and allegedly “brainwashed” a girl from Rhode Island, convinced her to convert to Islam and got her to don the hijab and go the whole nine yards. But in his case nobody wanted to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies”.

One school friend who asked not to be named recalled: ‘I saw her like a few months ago and she was just totally transformed. She was not the same person at all.’

Another agreed: ‘She was just this All-American girl who was brainwashed by her super-religious husband. Nobody understands what happened to her.

‘None of us would have dreamed that she would marry so young or drop out of college and have a baby or convert or be part of any of what’s happened.’

She said, ‘She’s just not the same person at all.’

But nobody will see anything wrong with that. What are we, bigots?  You have to understand that Romeike bad and Tsaerlan good. That is not to say that Muslims shouldn’t have the right to preach their faith and convince others to alter their lifestyles to suit. Perhaps they should.  As Erin Burnett of CNN pointed out, the Tsarnaevs were “stereotypically white Americans”.

 

Stereotypically White Americans

Yet there is apparently a differential willingness to greenlight Islamic lifestyles over Evangelical ones. Because the ‘moral arc’  of the history beloved by the left has to be taken into account, rooted as it is in the perception of who the enemy is.  The history of the word “Fifth Column” itself amply demonstrates  that to them the enemy is usually on the right and is usually Christian.  That is their ancient foe. Their hated enemy. It’s hard for the comrades to start fighting Islamic terrorism when they still have unfinished business with the Fifth Column.

Some writers who were formerly from the left have tried to perform an Update operation on the Narrative, basically arguing that what was true in 1941 is not necessarily true in 2013.  They’ve used the phrases  ”Islamofascism” and the “New War on Women” or have even pointed out the attacks by al-Qaeda on gays as proof that the Leftist canon has somehow fallen behind the times.

This has proven surprisingly difficult. Attempts at an Update are often defeated because the transaction fails due to network latencies, cables dropping out or secret microcode marking the Leftist mind as Read Only.

Thus none of these attempts at updating the image of the enemy have had complete success, though in places like France the effort has advanced far enough to convince the Left that al-Qaeda is at least some kind of minor devil, possibly at par with George Bush though definitely not as bad as Richard Nixon.  But that is probably because the Euro left has beaten down the conservative cause so badly that even the Commies feel sorry for them and are thus willing to look radical Islamism more honestly in the face and banning a hijab or two.

It is possible that with the passage of time, as the Left runs out of 5th Columnists to torture, shame and execute, a la Hemingway, that they’ll notice that people like the Boston duo are actually planting bombs.  ”Wow! They’re killing us. Blowing off our limbs? Who knew?” Then they’ll wake up the coffee. Organic and Fair Trade of course. And perhaps they’ll go so far as to let families (if they still exist) similar to the Romeikes teach their children about harmless old myths like God.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

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Top Rated Comments   
I am, my brother
A stereotypical white man
Blond of hair and blue of eye
Whose ancestors bestrode the world
With savage cruelty and bloody sword
So that no man could stand against us
And those who tried were slain upon the fields
Where bloomed the poppies and the gorse
I am, my brother
A peaceful man who takes his ease
In the twilight of a working day
An easeful life until aroused
But once aroused, my brother
You will find the fury of the white man called again
And you shall disappear from this Earth
Amid the lamentations of your women
And the sobs of your fatherless children
I am, my brother
A stereotypical white man
Take note, and be afraid
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Comfortable Class of "Educators" and "Knowledge Workers" who know so little agree with Alexander Kerensky, whose father was Vladimir Ulyanov's School Master, that there are "No enemies to the left." They will be shocked shocked to discover that a comfortable sinecure at Stanford will not await them after the Revolution.

They have admitted and empowered Barack Obama, who is the Real Fraud, and through him Eric Holder, who is the Real Deal as the enemy within. The left is so profoundly antiquarian and reactionary. They think that they are being bold and brave and acting out scenes in a play by Lillian Hellman. A keener literary eye on the type was Pasternak, who skewered the type with the corrupt fellow traveling lawyer Komarovsky.

The thugs and foot soldiers and cannon fodder for Democratic voting machines being imported are a concern because they drive a wedge between Constitutionalists and immigrants we should embrace, such as educated hard working responsible Asians and Latins, and also because the general debasement of the Law and turn to cynicism and a Client-Patron political system serves the purposes of the Left.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And the "Fifth Column" that so petrifies America's Left is the so-called "vast right-wing conspiracy," most recently typified by the Tea Party. Hence the simpathy for the German government's point of view. America's current leadership tipped their hand in roughly similar fashion when Honduras ousted their duplicitous president and the Obama administration sided with that ousted Hounduran president. The powers-that-be want to do their best tp prevent a parallel society -- yet their actions and doubling-down are making the likelyhood of parallel societies more, not less, probable.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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Emilio Mola, hadn't thought of him in awhile. Hugh Thomas, in his Spanish Civil War, tells a good story about the General and his public vow to take Madrid. It seems there was a Madrid restaurant that set out a table with a big place card "For General Mola" to poke fun at the General and his promise.

I believe Franco posthumously created him Duke of Mola, but I might be mistaken.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So Germany wants to make sure they "counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies”?

Well there you have it, the perfect reason to deny any Muslim immigration. What on earth is Islam if not a "religious and philosophically motivated parallel society"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am fully supportive of the Romeike family's plea for political asylum. I am an extremely passionate supporter of home schooling.

That said, the fly in the ointment is exactly the large Muslim immigration problem in Germany. They seem to be trying to get the immigrant children into secular public schools. In typical Euro-left fashion it is the wrong fix, but does admit some sort of problem.

"Islam is the Problem" he says again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am coming to the realization that American leftists are thoroughly colonized. They not only refuse to think for themselves, but insist on letting their social betters – the European leftists – do their thinking for them. They are slavishly loyal to European trends. And it hardly matters what those trends are. It matters more that those trends came from Europe, and if they come from Europe, they must be good.

I hate that situation. I had thought that the United States was independent and capable of charting its own destiny, but that independence appears to be an illusion. It means that nothing we say can have the slightest effect upon how American leftists think. On the other hand, it also means it would be wiser to convince French Communists of something, let them indoctrinate the Manchester Guardian, and let the Guardian indoctrinate American leftists.

In other words, the colonial mentality of the American Left means that convincing European leftists – and particularly French and British leftists – is far more important than arguing with leftists at home. In 2008, Obama used the colonial mentality of the American Left to his advantage. He used his tour of Europe, and particularly his speech in Berlin, to tell Americans that he had the unequivocal endorsement of the European Left. The American Left's support for Obama will never be shaken unless and until European leftists tell American leftists it is okay to oppose him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“Yet it is of a kind whereby modern leftists seek evermore to undermine things. Today it comes out that the FAA has put the screws on LAX for various, unfathomable political reasons. Our government, run by leftists now, cannot help sabotaging things.”

Ayn Rand got it all backwards. The leaders of industry had no stomach to go Galt. They too were grazing on the buffet in the Hamptons with their political friends. Industry grew up and with it a corporate trust of the leviathans like Getty, Morgan, and Carnegie predictably with an appetite for inside baseball and hand in glove governance and taxation of the proles’. And now in the full clench of power businesses are bowed in submission and the government itself has gone ‘Galt’, sued the states, shut down the airways… it could be said that they keep the trains from running on time.

Our only hope is a coalition of taxpayers and Christians that can rise to put the scoundrels out. Turn a blind eye to the rising fascism of sodomy, open borders, exporting wealth and jobs. America first. There is nothing to be ashamed of that. If it is worth living free and prosperous it is worth fighting for.

The Tea Party famously dumped tea into the fetid Boston harbor, we must think seriously what it is we’d be willing to dump our open sewers. The suicidal left is poisoning the well. If we cannot stop them we can only aspire to outdo them in some meaningful way.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think the Marathon bombing case points up a real Fifth Column problem.

I appears that the brother terrorists’ mother became a “911 Truther” from reading things on the Internet. Possibly, being already a Muslim, she was inclined that way in the first place, but it’s clear she at least got reinforcement from certain websites. That in turn led to her sons getting information on how to build bombs from the Internet. Personally, I do not think they needed any further support than that.

Welfare payments and the older brother’s working wife – and who knows, maybe theft as well – provided all the money required for their low-cost terrorism, and the Internet and the older brother’s probable training in his 6 month trip to Russia gave them the expertise.

The people who put out the 911 Truther nonsense probably have a lot of different reasons for doing so. I am convinced that one reason is that they are people who have no particular expertise and have to invent one out of thin air. But in any case, they are doing damage.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wanted to pass this on to all of you. I hope you do likewise. This was posted by a commenter, Bob Stock, at Powerline:

"Rule #1: If, say, a cell of some ideologically motivated, foreign-trained jihadists launch a deadly attack and kill some innocent kids as part of a long-running global conspiracy, the best response is for us to simply go about our business as if nothing happened -- if we change our laws or way of life, they win! The less we know about these terrorists, the better. Above all, we MUST NOT PROFILE over what must surely be just a few bad apples.

"Rule #2: If, say, a lone, insane, suicidal nutcase shoots up a school, breaking dozens of existing laws in the process, the best response is to call for sweeping national cultural changes, dig deeply to discover the root causes for the acts of a madman, and above all, scapegoat millions of law-abiding gun-owners through punitive new regulations with no other purpose than to simply PUNISH them for their COLLECTIVE GUILT.

"Wait, what?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is pretty easy to analyze. The Germans are white, heterosexual married Christians, hence not automatically exempt from further scrutiny (unlike, say, Muslims or gays or blacks).

Thus the state can focus on their real crime: schooling children themselves instead of handing them to their betters at our excellent (cough) public school systems.

We can't have immigrants like that!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am, my brother
A stereotypical white man
Blond of hair and blue of eye
Whose ancestors bestrode the world
With savage cruelty and bloody sword
So that no man could stand against us
And those who tried were slain upon the fields
Where bloomed the poppies and the gorse
I am, my brother
A peaceful man who takes his ease
In the twilight of a working day
An easeful life until aroused
But once aroused, my brother
You will find the fury of the white man called again
And you shall disappear from this Earth
Amid the lamentations of your women
And the sobs of your fatherless children
I am, my brother
A stereotypical white man
Take note, and be afraid
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And here I'd always thought that Fifth Column referred to a bunch of drunks at their typewriters; alcoholism being the primary job prerequisite of journalists in that era... Ernest Hemingway being an exemplar.

IIRC, by the time Franco made his move on Madrid the Communists had only one main road out of town -- towards the southeast, IIRC. By that time, Madrid was just about the only major town held by the anti-Franco forces.

While typically labeled fascist... Franco was a right wing, pro Roman Catholic Church soldier. When it came time to reciprocate favors to Adolf and el Duce -- he put a flea into their ears.

Hitler swore that he'd rather have another root canal than sit still for another Franco session. Keep in mind that Adolf would NOT permit ANY anti-pain medication while in the dental chair.(!) This last tick was revealed by his American trained dentist. He was pathologically afraid that he'd reveal private personal secrets to such a dentist. He had plenty of personal secrets to keep:

His fourth stage Syphilis
His incestuous sexual relations -- ending in suicide by the wrong party
His undescended testicle -- hence his father's rejection and endless beatings

And that's just a warm up.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"And here I'd always thought that Fifth Column referred to a bunch of drunks at their typewriters"

I expect you were thinking of the Fourth Estate; tomato, tomahto...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"When it came time to reciprocate favors to Adolf and el Duce -- he put a flea into their ears. "

wasn't it rather he was refused Marroco if he had servied Germany?

Franco and Musolini (-> Tunisia) were both looking at the french Maghreb colonies like a good opportunity. Adolf wasn't prepared to leave them, the Germans fought for having them
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"When the defeat of France was imminent, Franco had made his most blatant effort to gain access to what he imagined would be the peace conference to divide up the French empire. This took the form of a letter to Hitler written in early June and given to Hitler by General Juan Vigon on 16 June.13 That was brushed aside ungraciously by the Germans. By September 1940, Franco's position had changed little. Confident of an early German victory over Britain, he had sent his brotherin-law and Minister of the Interior, Ramon Serrano Suiter, to Berlin to clinch the conditions for Spain to be represented at the final conference table."

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26101/1/Franco%20and%20Hitler(lsero).pdf

http://www.city-data.com/forum/history/784773-any-thoughts-about-why-spain-neutral-2.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Come Nineveh, Come Tyre." by Allen Drury.
Who shall be destroyed, who will be saved?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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