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PAN-dering to bigotry and racism

2 January 2009

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. (Dr. Samuel Johnson)

Conservativism is the first refuge of a racist. (The Mex Files)

North of the Border, a candidate for chairman of the Republican Party is getting a lot of press for airing (not so subtly) racist views that, given his party’s rather spectacular rejection at the polls in the latest election, are being argued about as imprudent.  Of course, what no one in that party wants to admit is that bigotry and racism is one of their drawing cards in elections (and, yes, before I receive comments about this statement, I am aware that Abraham Lincoln was a member of this party, and that a Senator from the other party once belonged to the KKK… 60 years ago).

In Mexico, the sitting chairman of PAN, has also made the news for bigoted and racist remarks that cannot be passed off by his party as “satire”.  What makes this troubling is that PAN, which could be a respectable Capitalist party (and parties in Mexico are usually organized around economic theories) cannot overcome its roots in Fascism.

I’ve written on this before, but recently Party Chair Germán Martínez Cázares went one step beyond the “polite” antisemitism of the Mexican upper-class, creating a firestorm of protest for his slander of the Jews, and of Barack Obama.

Jacobo Zabludovsky, the son of a Polish Jew, the dean of Mexican newsmen (when Zabludovsky signed off as lead anchor on Televisa’s 24 Horas, rather than introduce a new anchorman, replaced their news program) was often accused of pandering to the state authorities. Not any more. He used his 22 December “Bucarelli” column in El Universal to condemn the not-so-secret antisemitism within PAN. My translation

Jacobo Zabludovsky, photo © 2007, El Pais (Madrid)

Jacobo Zabludovsky, photo © 2007, El País (Madrid)

Last Tuesday’s El Universal opinion page article by Germán Martínez Cázares, national president of the National Action Party (PAN) was an unacceptable, slander against the Jews.

Martinez’ chose to comment on the fraud committed by Bernard L. Madoff which resulted in a loss calculated at fifty billion dollars to institutions and people in numerous countries. In mentioning some victims, Martinez wrote: “It is worth noting that the swindlers cleansed their sins with charitable donations to the Jewish community.”

“The swindler swindled swindlers who absolve themselves of sins with charitable gifts, and are members of the Jewish community. Martinez does not specify what sins are involved, nor which city, town or country was involved. The swindle is all the Jews’ fault. Someone confused by the strange syntax (the part of grammar that coordinates and orders words into a coherent sentence), could think that the author attributed those faults to Madoff, though logically, one would discard that thought, since nobody has mentioned that he is a charitable donor

On the contrary: among the defrauded are philanthropic and social assistance agencies. But, it’s the Jews who are said to be the swindlers, because they are Jews, and contributed to charities.

The entire article is impregnated with the vilest anti-semitism from the start. Martinez’ first sentence reads, “[Madoff] is one of those priests of the religion of the holy avarice… in New York… His congregants gave him not only their investments and money, but their confidence”. The article’s prose is sprinkled with phrases like: “the creed of greed” and asks: “How do we stop that impulse of the financially sophisticated to indulge in greed without a strong state…?”

Three different times in his short text, Martinez uses the word “avarice,” a sin attributed for centuries to the Jews. There are already enough examples of this type of anti-Jewish aggressions in human history. The most mentioned is the story of Shylock, usually from those who have never read “The Merchant of Venice” and therefore ignore the point that the moneylender preferred his pound of flesh over all the money offered him – to avenge his humiliation and the tragic loss of his daughter, NOT to make a financial gain. But, that’s another story. .

Señor. Martinez is not just any citizen. He has no right to insult citizens in public. He is an advisor to President Felipe Calderón and President of the party to which two generations of Calderóns have belonged. He is the head of the governing party. He is the political chief of deputies, governors, cabinet secretaries, and civil servants at all levels, and of all persuasions.

Is he interpreting the President’s thoughts? When he amazingly says of Madoff, “Perhaps he contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign,” is he suggesting – officially – that there is some proof of dirty money involved? Is he insinuating that “Jewish money” might compromise the next president of the United States?

It is an open secret that one important sector of PAN was founded out of the overtly anti-Semitic, and often violent, National Synarchist Party. Seventy years ago, during their heyday, the Gold Shirts, in broad daylight, turned to open anti-Semitic violence on calle 16 de Septiembre [a main downtown street in Mexico City] attacking the poet Jacobo Glanz, father of the renowned author Margo Glanz. The synarchists in PAN are still so numerous that despite being welcome in the Party, a few months ago considered re-establishing the old Synarchist one.

Their influence is undeniable. .

German Martinez, photo Senado de la República

German Martinez, photo Senado de la República

Martinez needs be very clear on whether or not this article was his own opinion, or a public statement. Katia D’Artigues, in her “Campos Elíseos” column of last Wednesday (17 December), wrote about another political scandal in which Martinez accused Manuel Bartlett of being “the creator of the 1988 electoral fraud and the presumed assassin of [another political figure]”. The Supreme Court, writes Katia, is considering whether or not these remarks by Don German are covered by congressional immunity.

Mexico has been and is a country rooted in democratic ideas of equality and freedom, tolerance and respect. Any attempt to sow hatred against a minority not only harms that group, but tends to destroy the essence of the State and the principles on which we Mexicans have created our system of coexistence.

Mexico has enough problems. It doesn’t need any help brewing up a caudron of discrimination, especially from a party leader. But, I doubt the President will do anything about it. Or will he?

Alfredo, at Citius64 reprints the original Zabludovsky column, as well as Federico Berrueto’s 29 December piece in Milenio, which includes more on the anti-democratic roots of Mexican political parties.   My own piece on the fascist history of PAN were posted 19 June 2007.

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