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thumb-2023-07-02-dorchester-review-franco-fascist This article is more than 8 months old
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Journal Run By Alberta Curriculum Adviser Defends Historical Legacy of Spanish Fascism

Dorchester Review claims focus on ‘mass unmarked graves’ in both Spain and Canada is designed to disparage conservatives

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An obscure right-wing history journal run by a social studies adviser who helped rewrite Alberta’s education curriculum is calling for a “massive campaign” to defend the legacy of fascist dictator Franscisco Franco, claiming the focus on historical grievances is designed to disparage conservatives.

The Dorchester Review, a self-described “semi-academic” history journal, was launched in 2011 by editor Chris Champion – a former federal Conservative staffer to then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who was responsible for overseeing the Harper government’s controversial citizenship guide and later a key author of the UCP government’s social studies curriculum.

In 2020, Champion faced calls to be fired from his role as an advisor on the UCP’s education curriculum rewrite following statements defending Canada’s residential schools program.

In 2021, Champion again generated controversy after claiming claiming Indigenous students at residential schools had an “absolute blast.”

In the latest edition of Champion’s Dorchester Review, an unsigned article calls on “Spain’s conservatives” to defend Franco and the legacy of Spanish fascism.

Describing Franco as a man who “ruled Spain like a Roman dictator” but “bequeathed a modern constitutional monarchy,” the Dorchester Review complains that the left is now “digging up every grave that could be exploited to advance their grievance history.”

“Reopening old wounds may be recognized as a tactic of the left almost everywhere,” the journal states, dismissing criticism of Spain’s fascist history as merely an attempt to wage “proxy attacks” against traditional institutions.

“To seize control of the country’s historical narrative, wage a continual information war of one-sided guilt and condemn a nation, to conduct proxy attacks on parties, national traditions and churches and to mount continual rhetorical reprisals.”

The Dorchester Review notes Spain’s last conservative prime minister “bragged” about cutting funding for historical projects memorializing the Spanish Civil War, but suggests “conservatives need to be less complacent and more creative.” The journal suggests “Spain’s conservatives” should “respond in kind” by launching a “massive campaign about the true nature of the republic.”

The journal notes Franco himself blamed his killing of “one million” people on “Socialists,” who formed part of Spain’s pre-fascist republican government between 1936 to 1939, because they “pushed non-communist Spaniards to the brink.”

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Francisco Franco was a Spanish general who launched a military coup against Spain’s democratically-elected Republican government in 1936.

With the help of Hitler and Mussolini’s armies, Franco overthrew the republic and seized power after a brutal civil war in 1939. He ruled as dictator until his death in 1975, when he was replaced by the short-lived government of his hand-picked successor, Luis Carrero Blanco. Thereafter, a popular uprising saw elections return as part of the country’s “transition to democracy.”

After at least one million were killed in the Civil War, his government carried out mass killings against opposition supporters – at least 100,000 are believed to lay in Spain’s mass graves.

This isn’t the first time that the Dorchester Review has weighed in on mass graves.

In a 2021 article titled “From Katyn To Kamloops,” Champion claimed the outcry of Canadians at unmarked childrens’ graves at the former sites of residential schools represented a double standard.

Champion compared public reaction to residential school graves in Canada to how Spain’s left supposedly uses the mass graves from Spain’s former fascist regime to criticize the Spanish right – including the People’s Party (founded by ex-members of the dictatorship) and Vox (which defends the dictatorship).

“Mass unmarked graves have evil connotations especially in the 20th century,” Champion wrote. “Spain’s Social Democrats have dug up some 800 mass graves in the past 20 years, doing their best to associate their centre-right opponents today with the long-defunct Franco regime.”

In Canada, the article lamented:

“Much of the political elite responded like a Pavlovian dog, and the near-universal assumption is now that such unidentified graves are proof that the government, nuns, or the pope were responsible for genocide …You can only tolerate someone’s belly-aching for so long. Of course, for a larger issue such as this at a grand scale, a longer grieving period seems obvious. Let them grieve, and then don’t. Time is up. Move on. I think three more years is enough and then ‘reconciliation’ must be terminated.”

The Dorchester Review did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress.

 

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Mitchell Thompson
Reporter
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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