Friday, February 25, 2011

Your Friday Clash Song: The Hillsides Ring With “Free the People” …

“Spanish Bombs,” from London Calling (1979).

When I heard that Libya’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, ordered his air force to strafe peaceful protesters in Tripoli and elsewhere, it brought back this horrifying image of Gen. Francisco Franco bombing Guernica during the Spanish Civil War:

It was market day in Guernica when the church bells of Santa Maria sounded the alarm that afternoon in 1937. People from the surrounding hillsides crowded the town square. “Every Monday was a fair in Guernica,” says José Monasterio, eyewitness to the bombing. “They attacked when there were a lot of people there. And they knew when their bombing would kill the most. When there are more people, more people would die.”

For over three hours, twenty-five or more of Germany’s best-equipped bombers, accompanied by at least twenty more Messerschmitt and Fiat Fighters, dumped one hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs on the village, slowly and systematically pounding it to rubble.

And that, naturally, made me think of the Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” because it seems it’s always this way when you’re fighting fascists: They kill indiscriminately to cling to power (or, in Franco’s case, to seize power), because nothing threatens a fascist like ordinary people attempting to be free.

The hillsides ring with “Free the people,”

Or can I hear the echoes of the days of ’39

With the trenches full of poets

The ragged army, fixing bayonets to fight the other line

Spanish bombs rock the province

I’m hearing music from another time

Spanish bombs on the Costa Brava

I’m flying in on a DC-1o tonight

Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito

Yo te quiero, oh mi corazón

Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito

Yo te quiero, oh mi corazón …

Likewise, as the events unfold in Libya I’m reminded of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938), which I must’ve read, I don’t know, 28 years ago; and, specifically, I’m reminded of how the international community turned its back on the republican government of Spain and the wide-ranging coalition of ordinary Spanish citizens who stood up to Gen. Franco’s brutal onslaught. Without international intervention, the free Spanish government fell in 1939 and Franco’s dictatorial reign lasted thirty-six years.

We can only hope that the international community doesn’t turn its back on Libya’s freedom fighters today.

© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.

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