Light in the mortal storm

    569

    ‘(W)e shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’

    YES, we can ignore that nitwit blogger who wore blackface to flaunt sympathy for Black Lives Matter. Yes, we may retch over the worshippers of Blasphemer No. 1 (no wonder the Fiat of Sanctification envelops Earth today). Yes, by Saint Ronyon, we roll our eyes over the narcissists posing as avatars of Heroic Medicine (Radix malorum est cupidatis). But can freedom of expression survive the imposition of the Reichstag Fire Decree (aka Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State), which provides “Warrants for House searches, orders for confiscations” and restrictions on personal freedom, freedom of opinion, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications as well as restrictions on property beyond the legal limits? [Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zum Schutz von Volk und Staat]

    You admire the ex-schoolmaster Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (who issued an order for “combating the Gypsy plague,” among others)? Then accept the inclusion of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education as “support agencies” of the Anti-Terrorism Council (to which the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines objects). Yes, give more discretion to the corrupt bureaucrats who ceaselessly intrigue against their competent and honest co-workers. Sure, forget about the textbook cartel with its shill of “blended learning.”

    It was a mingy-stingy but hell-bent camarilla of chauvinists who perpetrated the “unmitigated brutality of a system” that warped a “small and gemütlich university community into a hotbed of hatred and mortal vengeance.” [The New York Times, June 21, 1940]

    The Nazis were able to concoct the Nuremberg Laws because Monsieur Apathy and Senora Shopping were too busy to care. When the Hitlerites took office in 1933, it was already too late to dislodge the eliminationist party by political struggle alone. Denazification could only be accomplished by six years of coalition warfare by the original United Nations. Winston Churchill wrote “While England Slept” and John F. Kennedy showed “Why England Slept” and British novelist Phyllis Bottome asked her dinner companions one evening in 1936 “…has England gone Nazi in its sleep?” [Alexis Pogorelskin, University of Minnesota-Duluth, “Phyllis Bottome’s The Mortal Storm: Film and Controversy,” The Space Between, Volume VI:1 2010]

    The Axis had the momentum when the movie version of The Mortal Storm was released, Italy declared war against France and Great Britain, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King moved a motion in the House of Commons (“Canada decided to stand at the side of the United Kingdom and France in their determined effort to resist aggression and to preserve freedom.”), King Haakon VII formed a government-in-exile (to liberate Norway from German occupation), and Operation Dynamo concluded with the overnight evacuation of 26,175 French troops from Dunkirk. [http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection-R/LoPBdP/BP/bp303-e.htm]

    Benito Mussolini, Premier of Italy, justified Rome’s entry into WWII, June 10, 1940: “We are taking up arms, after having solved the problem of our continental frontiers, to solve our maritime frontiers…There is only one order. It is categorical and obligatory for everyone. It already wings over and inflames hearts from the Alps to the Indian Ocean: Conquer!” Incidentally, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told his party’s virtual Maharashtra Jan-Samvad Rally that the Narendra Modi-led government will ensure that India’s pride is not affected as far as the situation along the Indo-China border is concerned, while Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that India would not tolerate any bullying from the Chinese side, referring to tensions along the Line of Actual Control (northern bank of the Pangong Lake and Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector). [http://newsonair.com/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=390807; https://www.republicworld.com/india-news/politics/punjab-cm-1962-india-china-border-dispute-war-peace-ladakh-army-lac.html]

    Mussolini’s threats. A retort: “On this 10th day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor. On this 10th day of June, 1940, in this university founded by the first great American teacher of democracy, we send forth our prayers and our hopes to those beyond the seas who are maintaining with magnificent valor their battle for freedom.” [U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We will not slow down or detour,” Address to the graduating class of the University of Virginia and over the radio to the world, June 10, 1940]. That sting, delivered 80 years prior, ought to penetrate the bamboo curtain (festooned with silk, infected with SARS-CoV-2) that masks the spit-stained criminal coliseum of the Ten Rings.

    A more stirring response. “Wars are not won by evacuations…we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” [Winston Churchill, House of Commons, June 4, 1940]
    Since the virus of Fascism was allowed to spread (even with the warnings of “The Mortal Storm,” book and film), the pandemic could only be halted and the infectious agent crushed in a trans-oceanic feat of arms. The lethality of Hitlerism was not confined in Europe, the plague was spreading in Asia-Pacific, with Jose Abad Santos decrying “what Germans are doing in Western world, Japanese will try to do in East. Unless America stops Japan, it will not be long before it strikes.” [https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1940/07/01/history-from-day-to-day-philippine-magazine-may-19-june-15-1940/]

    Human nature? The MGM movie opens with a narration: “The tale we are about to tell is of the mortal storm in which man finds himself today. Again he is crying, ‘I must kill my fellow man!’ Our story asks, how soon will man find wisdom in his heart and build a lasting shelter against his ignorant fears?”

    Yet eight decades ago, a diarist jotted hope in the world of tomorrow: “Perhaps, in the future, we can trust ourselves when we give this service to our democracy not to be afraid of losing that democracy through militarization. A willingness to discipline ourselves and accept whatever life may hold in store for us is all-important now.” [My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 13, 1940]