Friday, June 15, 2007

Damned if you are, damned if you're not

My grandmother used to say "Damned if you are, damned if you're not."

She told me it came from the days when the English used to kill people for belonging to the wrong religion: Henry VIII killed Catholics who wouldn't support his new church of England. Then Henry died, and his oldest daughter Mary--a devout Catholic--piously ordered the execution of at least 300 people who turned their backs on Catholicism to save their skin, under her father's reign. That's why she's called Bloody Mary. Then she died and Elizabeth took over. Catholics out, Protestants in, but things calmed down a bit.

The phrase comes to mind today as ABC News and others report executions in the streets of Gaza of Fatah leaders or supporters (CNN says these reports are not confirmed). Not enough to be a Palestinian; you have to be in the right party. I thought their virulent hatred of Israel would be enough to keep the factions from trying to destroy each other, but I have a tendancy to be a Pollyana. Silly me.

In the Spanish Civil War (the 1930s), the two sides tore into each other with growing violence. The Spanish Civil War was unbelievably bitter and bloody. The factions were Franco's Insurgents and the government Loyalists. Both groups were willing to eviscerate their country and kill everyone in it to keep the other side from winning.

In one city--Baena--the Insurgents took over and executed 90 men, all leaders and administrators. Months later, the Insurgents were forced out by the Loyalists. When the Loyalists took control, the killed 700 Insurgent sympathisers in reprisal.

Damned if you are, damned if you're not.

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