Normandy and the Freedom Century

Normandy AnniversaryAs world leaders gather this week at Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and as struggles for freedom continue today in far corners of the world, consider the words of Col. Oveta Culp Hobby engraved at the World War Two memorial in Washington: “Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women … this was a people’s war, and everyone was in it.”

What began as an epic struggle against a great depression and fascism in Europe and Asia in the 1930s has become a freedom century that has brought a steady advance of democracy and human rights around the world.

This long, hard, epic struggle continues today, witnessed by headlines from our daily news.

Ukraine battles against a Russian invasion by subversion organized by a dictator who mourns the death of the Soviet empire. The Arab Spring that overthrew Hosni Mubarak from Tahrir Square faces a new form of dictatorship ruled by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Chinese government that fears the power of the democratic idea tries to erase the truth of the blood that stained Tiananmen Square 25 years ago this week.

Carnage continues in Syria while the “free world” ponders whether to stop it. Human rights activists battle from Havana to Beijing. Young women of a music group championing freedom for Russia are beaten and whipped by agents of a strongman. Voices of hatred and racism rise in a Europe that still searches for its continental identity while widespread economic pain sets loose an extremism reminiscent of the 1930s.

In the freedom century there are victories and defeats against oligarchs with money and butchers with guns.

Normandy Anniversary

Liberating Paris

American civil rights workers murdered by racists planted the seeds for the first black American president, with women destined to follow — possibly soon.

Communists invaded Hungary in 1956, destroyed the Prague Spring in 1968 and installed a dictator in Poland in 1981. Yet playwright Václav Havel left a communist prison to become president of a democratic Czechoslovakia. Labor leader Lech Wałęsa was imprisoned in a communist jail but rose to become president of a democratic Poland. The Berlin Wall was joyously ground into dust by newly freed people.

In the Spanish civil war of the 1930s fascism defeated freedom, but after long and brutal struggle, democracy prevailed. Nelson Mandela endured decades in the prisons of a racist state but triumphed to become the magnanimous president of a democratic South Africa.

Pope John Paul II, recently declared a saint, stood against dictatorships of Nazism and communism, while Pope Francis, who sainted him, warns against a spiritual dictatorship that worships the cult of money.

Two months after troops landed at Normandy, fascism fell in Paris. The liberation of Paris in August 1944 was as transcendent as the taking of Omaha Beach. As Clark Gable and David Rockefeller fought alongside union members and teachers in the “people’s war,” Paris was liberated when literary giants like Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and André Malraux joined workers and shopkeepers to bring the great uprising within the city of lights as Gen. George S. Patton and the U.S. Army approached from one direction, Gen. Philippe Leclerc led the Free French forces from another direction and Ernest Hemingway and J.D. Salinger carried guns along with pens in brotherhood with the French resistance and Allied armies.

Finally the streets of Paris were lined with cheering throngs when church bells rang and freedom won and freedom fighters from nations across Europe converged for the victorious march to Berlin.

Brent-Budowsky-175The Latin America once ruled like banana republics has joined the advance of freedom. Literary luminaries such as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Isabel Allende and Mario Vargas Llosa, who shared love of freedom while they often debated each other, joined with peasants and middle-class patriots to promote a continental movement to democracy that swept aside tyrants from the right and left with more to come, including Cuba.

This week we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the landing at Normandy. We honor what was achieved by the courageous patriots and timeless heroes of many nations who were the great generation. And now the future of the freedom century rests on the shoulders our generation, today.

Brent Budowsky
The Hill

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Comments

  1. R Zwarich says

    I have been reading Brent Budowsky’s rather vapid liberal commentary in LA Progressive for some time, and never really expect much insight, but I was downright stunned to read his spirited presentation here of the bedrock propaganda line of the American corporate capitalist empire. I can appreciate a ‘big tent’ editorial policy, and I certainly don’t expect to agree with everything published by any publication, but Mr. Budowsky’s childlike recitation of the mainstream propaganda of the American Empire simply does not belong in a progressive publication. Another way to put that is that a publication that runs this kind of mainstream corporate capitalist propaganda has no business calling itself “progressive”.

    Are other readers as taken aback as I am? I think that Dick and Sharon Price owe us an explanation of their thinking in publishing this material. If this starkly Orwellian propaganda lies within the editorial purview of LA Progressive, then it has suddenly become clear that among the proliferating number of online publications that call themselves ‘progressive’, LA Progressive is not a publication that merits our time and attention.

    R Zwarich

    PS: The ‘Great Generation’ whose exploits Mr. Budowsky touts so highly is the same generation that was so narrow mindedly conformist, and crassly materialistic, as well as racist, sexist, and jingoistic to absurd extremes, that their own children rebelled against them, and their shallow materialistic lives, in the 60s.

    • says

      R Zwarich:

      We enjoy publishing Brent’s “inside-the-Beltway” perspectives because they provide a front-row seat to what’s going on in the nation’s capital.

      While Sharon and I may personally align more closely with other writers that we present, few of them have the kind of close-hand view of Washington that Budowsky provides. And what’s going on in the capital and the thinking that goes with it will almost certainly have a great impact on all our lives.

      In the case of this current article, Brent honors the anniversary of the Normandy landing. I particularly wanted to run something honoring the sacrifice of our World War II servicemembers — like my father who fought with the 104th Timberwolf Infantry Division from France, through Belgium and Holland, and into Germany before being wounded by artillery shrapnel outside Aachen on precisely the same spot on his lower right leg as, 25 years later, I was wounded by grenade shrapnel, in a muddy rice paddy in the Mekong Delta.

      The rest of Brent’s article recounts what a dangerous, ugly world this has become, but does not glorify the regrettable and lengthening series of wars, invasion, and police actions America has chosen to inflict on the world. He reserves his glorification to the efforts that defeated fascism in World War II.

      But then to paint a whole “great generation” as conformist, crassly materialistic, racist, sexist, and jingoistic to absurd extremes is the kind of nasty oversimplification that belongs only on Fox News. My 96-year-old Dad, a member of that generation who may well be reading these comments from his home on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is not one of those things, not one, nor are others of his generation I have come to know.

      What hugely broad, simplistic, monochromatic brush would you use to paint today’s generations?

    • says

      R Zwarich:

      We enjoy publishing Brent’s “inside-the-Beltway” perspectives because they provide a front-row seat to what’s going on in the nation’s capital.

      While Sharon and I may personally align more closely with other writers that we present, few of them have the kind of close-hand view of Washington that Budowsky provides. And what’s going on in the capital and the thinking that goes with it will almost certainly have a great impact on all our lives.

      In the case of this current article, Brent honors the anniversary of the Normandy landing. I particularly wanted to run something honoring the sacrifice of our World War II servicemembers — like my father who fought with the 104th Timberwolf Infantry Division from France, through Belgium and Holland, and into Germany before being wounded by artillery shrapnel outside Aachen on precisely the same spot on his lower right leg as, 25 years later, I was wounded by grenade shrapnel, in a muddy rice paddy in the Mekong Delta.

      The rest of Brent’s article recounts what a dangerous, ugly world this has become, but does not glorify the regrettable and lengthening series of wars, invasion, and police actions America has chosen to inflict on the world. He reserves his glorification to the efforts that defeated fascism in World War II.

      But then to paint a whole “great generation” as conformist, crassly materialistic, racist, sexist, and jingoistic to absurd extremes is the kind of nasty oversimplification that belongs only on Fox News. My 96-year-old Dad, a member of that generation who may well be reading these comments from his home on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is not one of those things, not one, nor are others of his generation I have come to know.

      What hugely broad, simplistic, monochromatic brush would you use to paint today’s generations?

      — Dick Price

      • R Zwarich says

        Mr. Price:

        I am sorry that you seem to have taken personal insult from my comments. None was intended, sir, neither against you, nor certainly against your father. I would have hoped you might have realized that I was answering an often heard generalization (the “greatest generation”) with a counter generalization. I wasn’t attempting to “paint” a generation in one sentence. I was contributing a brief comment to an article, not writing an article myself. I would have thought a ‘progressive’ of your age would have understood a bit more about what happened in the 60s, when a large percentage of the children of the “greatest generation” rebelled en masse against their parents’ values, which indeed were heavily dominated by crass “keep up with the Joneses” materialism, racism, sexism, and an extremist jingoism which culminated (in the 60s) in the slaughter of MILLIONS of Vietnamese peasants for no other reason than to shore up US power and empire. I can only hope that you can understand that no “simplistic” generalization can encapsulate the truth about an entire generation, which was the very point that I was trying to make, by answering one sweeping simplistic generalization with another.

        Things feel as if they are turned a bit on their heads here, Mr. Price. Here you are associating me with Fox News, as you defend the base line propaganda of American empire, (as does Fox News, of course), while I find myself arguing for what I would have thought were assumptions that people who call themselves ‘progressives’ would share, (and that Fox News would deny and denounce). Irony is a heck of a thing, is it not?

        For example: Mr. Budowsky talked about Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, (where I have blood relatives, btw). Is it possible that people who call themselves ‘progressives’ are actually this ignorant of facts that certainly appear to be well established? Is it actually possible that people who call themselves progressives embrace the Orwellian propaganda, (enthusiastically propagated by Fox News, btw), that absurdly purports a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine? Are you yourself, (as a progressive, and presumably not a follower of Fox News propaganda, as Mr. Budowsky apparently is), aware that the US financed and fomented a putsch against the legally elected government of Ukraine, principally by backing a powerful minority of extremist fascist Nazi thugs, (the Ukrainian Nazi Svoboda Party)? Do you not know that Sebastopol is Russia’s ONLY open (year round) seaport, and is the location of its principal naval forces? Did you know that Crimea is traditionally and historically Russian territory, (albeit disputed), and that Sebastopol was only granted continuance under Ukrainian administration in the 1990s, with a special status recognizing its strategic importance to Russia? When the CIA fomented the Nazi backed coup that ousted the legal government of Ukraine, is it reasonable to expect that Russia should have allowed itself to become a land-locked nation, and willingly lose its principal naval base? Is Mr. Budowsky ignorant of these established facts when he characterizes Russia’s defensive moves, to protect itself against US aggression, as an “invasion”? Were you, sir, as a progressive, aware of these facts when you published Mr. Budowsky’s recitation of this Orwellian propaganda, (accusing the party on the defensive of being the aggressor)? Do you not understand, sir, that this is the mainstream propaganda of US corporate capitalist empire, and belongs on Fox News, and NOT in a publication that calls itself progressive?

        I could address the many other points of Mr. Budowsky’s Orwellian propaganda, (freedom is steadily advancing around the world? Hmmm…..seems I heard something about all the wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few, and people falling steadily deeper into poverty all around the world, while governments, (and especially so-called ‘democratic’ governments, most especially including our own), are corrupted by corporate power, and trade agreements between corporate powers are directly undermining democracy everywhere around the globe), but this is getting rather long, and I’m on the East Coast, and it’s getting late for an old man. (My clock just struck midnight, and I’m usually in bed by 9).

        So, my understanding of your explanation then is that you enjoy Mr. Budowsky’s insider DC perspective, (according to his bio he currently “manages corporate entertainment and talent”, have I got that right?), so in exchange for his insider perspective you afford him a forum on which to publish propaganda that would fit right in with the editorial policy of Fox News? Have I got that right? Please correct me if I misunderstand

        Well….I respect you, sir, and your wife, a great deal. If your explanation makes sense to you, I’ll have to think more on it. I’ll try my best to understand it from your point of view. I hope you will also think more on this, sir, and consider that perhaps you need to gain a new perspective, because (with all due respect) publishing main line corporate capitalist propaganda just sure does not seem to me to be a correct editorial policy for a publication that calls itself ‘progressive’.

        Respectfully,
        R Zwarich

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