Schindler's List, Argentina, ABC

Two events sort of converged in the last few days to trigger some thoughts/conclusions. Although it was written some 20 or so years ago, I have only recently gotten around to reading Australian Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List (the movie version title, with Keneally’s actual title being Schindler’s Ark), and noticed the big news currently coming out of Argentina, where rioters, ostensibly protesting the conference on free-trade agreements in the Americas in Mar del Plata (34-nation conference – Summit of Americas), have attacked police, engaged in violent acts of terrorism/vandalism, and, of course, done plenty of looting, perhaps the main objective of the whole mess, as usual. Think New Orleans this year with Hurricane Katrina/FEMA as the excuse and Seattle a few years ago in another “economic summit.”

The reading of Keneally’s book, an exercise in astonishment not least remarked by the Nazism that brought about the deaths of 11 million people during the 1930s-40s, led logically to thoughts of what happened to many of the Nazis after World War II, as well as what happened to the billions of dollars and art-works confiscated by the butchers from hapless Jews, Czechs, Poles, and others to either finance the war or enhance personal financial fortunes. When considering this, I thought of Argentina, which did not sever ties with the Axis powers until January 1944. According to a May 1997 issue of the Art Daily Internet Newspaper, “Recently declassified U.S. wartime documents from 1945 estimate that the Nazis secretly sent more than $1 billion to be invested in Argentina one month before the war ended. Nazi hunters of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre have also called for an investigation into allegations that the Argentine government gave thousands of blank passports to Nazis fleeing Europe on the orders of President Juan Peron. Peron, president from 1946 to 1955 and in 1973-74, was an admirer of Italian fascist ruler Benito Mussolini. During Peron's first period in power, Argentina was the refuge for some top Third Reich officials including Hitler's confidante, Martin Bormann, Holocaust ‘architect’ Adolf Eichmann and possibly Auschwitz concentration camp doctor Josef Mengele.”

Wildly varying estimates exist for the number of Nazi masochists who wound up in Argentina, but there can be little doubt that quite a number of them did, and the reputation of Argentina will always be sullied in the history books because of its being the South American refuge for monsters, not to mention the actual enterprises engaged in by the Nazis during WWII, using the good offices of people/institutions in Argentina. Left in Europe were the millions of graves populated mostly by non-military people who happened to live in the wrong place in the wrong century. Thus, the connection of Argentina with Schindler’s List, although most of the prisoners engaged in the Schindler enterprises, for reasons most likely accruing to the payment of bribes of one kind or another to German officials by a man at the time incomprehensibly compassionate, survived.

A few days ago, the commentator of the ABC evening-news show referred to the 2,000th killing of an American in the Afghani/Iraqi conflicts as a milestone, believe it or not. I heard/viewed that and wondered at either the perpetrator’s stark ignorance of the meaning of that word or the probability of a ghoulish intention to purposely use it in an effort to continue all the efforts of the “mainstream media” to bash Bush at every opportunity, even to the extent of using the deaths of American GIs to trumpet some sort of victory for “their side.” So…I was prepared to hear the ABC “reporter,” in discussing on November 4 the current riots in Argentina, refer to the “free-trade agreement” under consideration by the collected representatives of the American governments, the ostensible cause of the riots, as “Bush’s free-trade agreement.” This is what it has come down to in this country with regard to the major news outlets, with the probable exception of Fox News and a few high-profile talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy and a handful of major newspapers such as the Washington Times and the New York Post.

According to the news biggies, the current riots in Argentina can be chalked up to president Bush, never mind that the consensus in the countries is that the free-trade approach works to every country’s advantage. And to think…the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, addressed an anti-USA rally, claiming that Bush plans to invade his country. Imagine…one of the parties to the talks (if he actually is a party) is accusing the United States of designs on his country. He said the invasion will be the start of a hundred-years war. The fact that he is even allowed in the conference is an affront to all but the world’s lunatic fringe. Proving his idiocy, Chavez is said to be an admirer of Fidel Castro, the only dictator left in the Americas, not that all the “democracies,” such as that of Venezuela, are much more than democracies in name only.

Granted, the riots may have been enhanced a bit by the presence of Bush on Argentine soil, but there would have been riots nevertheless. Not for the first time has a U.S.-elected official been mocked or terrorized in a South American country. In Chavez’s own Caracas, then-Vice president Nixon was put in peril in 1958 when crowds attacked his motorcade. Hating the United States is practically a cottage industry in South America, and this will not change in the foreseeable future, not least because the mostly corrupt governments involved will keep the populace in ignorance. Add to this the fact of simple jealousy, and the reasons for hate are quite obvious.

As for ABC News, according to the recently released information by its honchos it must become more entertaining. If sensationalism – dishonest, at that – is to be the vehicle for success, so be it. Three years ago ABC flirted with bringing CBS’s David Letterman to the network to take over for “Nightline,” but negotiations failed, according to Media Life Television. That about says it all.