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Post Franco Monuments in Spain Today
Created by John Eipper on 08/28/17 12:45 PM

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Franco Monuments in Spain Today (Carmen Negrin, France, 08/28/17 12:45 pm)

In response to Anthony Candil (August 25h), first of all I don't think one can compare Lincoln to Franco!

Second, yes, we owe a lot, too much, to Franco, in particular the useless king who, as the rest of his family, has lived at the expense of his "subjects."

We owe to Franco the corruption, lack of ethics, the tremendous power of the church, the arrogance of a new elite still in place, and Spain's low educational and health levels, which have become better since he left but let's stress that it would have been difficult to get worse.  We also owe him the very high level of fear that still exists when it comes to talking about the Spanish Civil War, or wanting a Republic. I have witnessed it time and again, even though it is true that, after 40 years, the level has reduced. The central factor that kept Franco's dictatorship in place was fear--unfortunately a justified fear.

In his specific case, all the monuments, streets, schools, hospitals, etc., named after him and his people do recall that fear and grievance, to half of Spain. And by law they should be removed, just like the corpses he had thrown in mass graves, but Rajoy is not enforcing the law, on the contrary. Perhaps this is why it is even more important to enforce its application at a grassroots level.

JE comments:  Anthony Candil was not comparing Franco to Lincoln... I think.  Both won a civil war, but there the similarities stop.

Carmen:  Have any institutions in Spain (besides the Foundation in Las Palmas) been named after your grandfather?

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  • Franco Gave Us the Royals (Anthony J Candil, USA 08/30/17 3:40 AM)
    To answer Carmen Negrín (28 August), of course I was not comparing Franco to Lincoln. My thanks to John E for coming to my rescue, and I apologize to Carmen if I conveyed to her such a feeling.

    And I was half joking when I said that Spaniards should be grateful to Franco. He certainly made a lot of mistakes and was ruthless with his enemies in the very first years. Later on maybe we can debate this. Spain in the 1960s, and maybe '70s, was not a country living with such a fear, as Carmen points out. At least I didn't perceive it. It was a pretty easygoing country, and public safety in the streets and towns was high. But of course, I'm sure everything that glittered wasn't gold.

    On the other hand, I wanted to emphasize that those who should be more grateful to Franco are precisely the Royals. I agree with Carmen about Juan Carlos. He is a very corrupt person, still living on his subjects and getting a very generous allowance, in spite of not being the king on the throne. And Felipe VI is just his sequel; like father like son.

    What really surprises me is that when the Spaniards are getting rid of everything Francoism meant, why they don't get rid of the Borbón family once and for all? Especially taking into account that it was Franco who restored them to the throne. Don't they realize that Royals are the main corruption force behind the scene?

    How can it be that the Socialist Party is so much a "monarchist" party nowadays? It makes no sense at all. I won't be surprised if Felipe Gonzalez is rewarded with a dukedom or similar, any day.

    I don't think the Spanish military would be an obstacle to dismantling the monarchy. The Spanish military count very little in Spanish society today. So? What's the problem?

    I wonder what Carmen thinks.

    Anyway, best wishes to y'all from the wettest state in the Union, today. We survived Harvey.

    JE comments:  Who can give us an appraisal of Felipe VI's popularity today?  Isn't he considered far less corrupt than his father (and brother-in-law)?  Still, Anthony Candil makes a convincing point.  If Spain by law is removing its monuments to Franco, why not take down the most visible and expensive "monument" of all--the Monarchy?

    Here, Carmen Negrín and Anthony Candil are in full agreement.  Next, Carmen comments on how her grandfather is remembered in Spain.

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    • Fear in Spain: Then and Now (Carmen Negrin, France 09/05/17 4:13 AM)
      First of all, all my best wishes for recovery to the inhabitants of the wettest state in the US (Texas)! Also, all the best to all of us if the moods of the leaders of North Korea or the USA get itchy.

      Responding to Anthony Candil (30 August), strangely enough, according to different inquiries, it seems that if we had elections today, the monarchy would be confirmed. We must not forget that Azaña, President of the Republic, tried to negotiate the return of the monarchy in exchange for peace; a number of Republicans approved of that idea, a sort of "anything but Franco," until the monarchy was actually back in place. But then, in the same order of ideas/absurdities/contradictions, although the PP has been the party the most involved in corruption, it still receives the most votes. Try and figure it out!

      As far as fear is concerned, I can only talk of what I have witnessed: at the end of the 1960s, many classics such as Sartre could not be found in Spain, except in hidden cellars. Books were still censured. The army was very present, even when Juan Carlos was on the throne, the coup attempt of 23 de febrero de 1981 is not so far away.

      Two small anecdotes: about four years ago, at the Spanish Embassy I overheard two military officers salute each other with an "Arriba España," and five years ago, after I gave a lecture in a small village near Valencia, an elderly lady, maybe in her nineties, came up to me in tears and gave me a hug saying "Thank you, I can finally start taking about what I have gone through." This was not a unique case. It is not what you will hear in a university, but it does reflect the suffering and fear of lost villages, where people know who denounced their fathers or grandfathers in order to take over the family's small piece of land, they often had to live next to the one who murdered the family members either directly or through denunciation and they kept--had to keep--quiet during all those years.

      Having said all this, of course, Spain is not what it was, but my feeling is that people have been brainwashed. I had a similar feeling in countries like Romania and Hungary, for supposedly the opposite reasons.

      JE comments:  Living next to those who murdered your family and took your land:  this is the reality of civil war.  Aldona's family has similar stories from Poland in WWII.  Such experiences must be remembered, and give a more accurate picture of war than the "grand scheme" of arrows on a map.

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      • What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain? (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/08/17 3:41 AM)
        I am grateful for Carmen Negrín's comments (5 September), but I still don't understand. What is it the monarchy provides to Spaniards?

        Nor did I know that President Azaña considered bringing back the monarchy in exchange for peace. When did that happen?

        I cannot see how it would have worked out. Would the Communists or Anarchists have accepted it? Doubtful. If true, I don't think that Franco would have been the main obstacle.

        The real obstacle would have been the Republic itself.  If the monarchy had been restored, what role would Carmen's grandfather have had? I cannot imagine Juan Negrín being the Prime Minister of King Alfonso XIII.

        On the other hand I hope Carmen will agree with me that the Republic didn't bring down the monarchy. It was the other way around, the monarchy brought the Republic when Alfonso XIII decided on his own to leave the country without any pressure of any kind.

        The Republic, a few months later, deprived the whole Royal family of Spanish citizenship on the grounds that the king himself had instigated the coup of General Primo de Rivera. And they were right; he did. In the same way that many years later, Juan Carlos instigated and encouraged the coup of February 23, 1981. He used the Army and some foolish generals--actually, only three--to his advantage.

        I know many WAISers don't want to believe it, and prefer to continue thinking that Juan Carlos was a true believer in democracy, starting with my friend John E and others, but he wasn't. And he is not. He is just a "bon vivant," as they say in France.

        It is always nice to exchange views with Carmen Negrín, anyway. I'm pretty sure we are much closer in thinking than anybody would imagine. I wonder why she hasn't written in more detail about her grandfather. I believe it is about time.

        JE comments: I too would love to read Carmen's memories of growing up in the Negrín household.  She has given many lectures and interviews, but a full-sized book would be, as my students say, awesome.

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        • Juan Carlos and Spanish Democracy (Paul Preston, UK 09/09/17 8:23 AM)
          Just a couple of comments regarding Anthony Candil's recent WAIS post about the Spanish monarchy (8 September) The idea that Alfonso XIII "decided on his own to leave the country without any pressure of any kind" is absolutely without foundation. Municipal elections on 12 April 1931 had seen a massive majority for Republican candidates in the towns where, unlike much of the countryside, elections were not rigged. It was clear that for Alfonso to stay would have involved massive bloodshed, and it was made clear to him by his generals that they could not defend him.

          What Juan Carlos did for Spain was to use his position as Franco's official successor, and therefore commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to neutralise the Francoists in the armed forces and the political establishment, thereby allowing more moderate elements of the right and left to negotiate the process of transition to democracy.

          Whether Juan Carlos was a democrat is irrelevant. In order to secure his throne, he helped facilitate the democratic process, often at considerable risk to his person.

          I would like to see proof from Anthony Candil for his categorical statement that "Juan Carlos instigated and encouraged the coup of February 23, 1981."  If Juan Carlos wanted a government with military participation, he could have done so legally and without encouraging the international ridicule that came with a military coup by accepting the offers made after the resignation of Adolfo Suárez by the leaders of the main political parties to accept a coalition government, including a general.

          JE comments:  Anthony Candil has long argued that Juan Carlos was complicit in the 23 February coup.  (This was the topic of his 2013 talk at Adrian.)  It is not a commonly held belief.  Anthony:  Could you tell us how and when you formulated your hypothesis?

          Carmen Negrín (next) also sees some involvement of the King in the coup--at least insofar as several conspirators received no more than a slap on the wrist as punishment.

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        • What Does the Monarchy Do for Spain? (Carmen Negrin, France 09/09/17 12:02 PM)
          Answering Anthony Candil's post of 8 September on the Spanish monarchy, I personally don't think that the monarchy has provided anything to Spaniards, except, perhaps, at the very beginning, a consensus for a transition towards democracy after 40 years of dictatorial brainwashing and, mainly, a lot of sales for Hola.

          As for Azaña, although he was a brilliant and wonderful person, he was not the right person, in the right place, at the right time. He was the perfect peacetime President.  I would say he was the exact opposite of Churchill during WWII.

          If I recall well, he started "betraying" (perhaps the word is not adequate and is too strong since he did what he thought was the best for the Spanish people) the Republic, as well as the Government, around the time of the departure of the International Brigades (September-October 1938). Ángel Viñas and Paul Preston certainly know much more about this episode than I do. He did another "betrayal" just after crossing the border: he was about to resign and go to his country house in France; my grandfather who had accompanied him across the border, told him--after reminding him that the soldiers were still fighting in Spain--that he had to stay at the Embassy in Paris.  He ended up doing this, but not for long--since he resigned from his position, days later, at the end of February, leading to the almost immediate recognition of Franco by the UK and France, even though the war was ongoing until 1st April. My grandfather, just before that tragic decision, went back to Spain and only returned to France by mid March, when he asked the few representatives left in France to formalize the government-in-exile, mainly to attend the needs, as a governing body, of the 530,000 or so refugees. It took a while before they even accepted to meet, but it was eventually accepted.

          The question of the Monarchy is not properly posed. Communists did recognize the Monarchy a few---quite a few--years later in exchange for their own recognition by the Monarchy. Anarchists are a totally different story, starting by which Anarchists?

          Negotiations can lead to anything, depending on what you want, which are your priorities, especially how badly you want them, and also depending on ethics.

          True Royalists left Spain during the Republic.  Many didn't return until after Franco's death.

          I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister, even if, as was the case with Alfonso XIII, he personally knew him: Alfonso XIII had charged him in 1927 with the construction of the Ciudad Universitaria, the Decreto Real will be exposed in October in the library of the University of Valencia, next to a selection of my grandfather's books. Besides the opening of the Physiology Laboratory in the Residencia de Estudiantes, that task was probably his most enjoyable one while being his least recognized achievement.

          My grandfather was given a task, which he accepted, and that task was to defend the Republic, which he did until the end. The Republic meant simply people and people's will. There was no possible bargaining.

          Anthony and I agree absolutely that the Monarchy brought itself down. I didn't know that the nationalities of the Royals had been taken away by the Republic, but I did know that the Republic offered to take care of the King's sister who was ill--the King refused and also that the Republic continued paying the retirement pensions of the Monarchy's ministers, something of course, Franco never did but the following Monarchy did, although late, with the retired soldiers (I am not sure about the government members). And of course, yes, the king was part of the coup, probably more distant than he would have wanted to be, but a real part.

          I am also convinced like Anthony that his grandson was also part of the February 1981 coup. Many people, including Carrillo had told me the opposite, but how can one explain otherwise that all those responsible were set free relatively shortly after?  One of those who went to prison, I think it was Tejero, used to be seen shopping with his wife in the streets of the town while he was said to be in prison.

          No memoirs in sight! I admire those who are able to write a full book, I have "corrected" a few, but it is not the same to write some notes or short texts as you all know.  Emotionally it was stressful enough to slightly participate in the film on my grandfather!

          JE comments:  Carmen, you can write your memoirs in small installments--for WAIS!  Items such as these fascinating tidbits about Juan Negrín need to be preserved.

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          • King Juan Carlos and the Coup of 1981 (Paul Preston, UK 09/11/17 5:18 AM)

            I totally agree with Carmen Negrín (September 9th) that her grandfather would have loyally served as prime minister in the unlikely event of a negotiated settlement of the Spanish Civil War with a restoration of the monarchy, and the even more unlikely event of his being invited.

            I too was surprised by Anthony Candil's statement that the Republic deprived the royal family of Spanish nationality. I do not think that that is true. In an arguably ill-advised process carried out by the so-called "comisión de responsabilidades," the new Republican government sought to try those considered guilty of the abuses committed from 1923-1930 by the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. Having approved and instigated the dictatorship, Alfonso XIII was accused of high treason. His properties were seized but, as far as I know, he was not deprived of his nationality. In any case, all of the sentences laid down in the process were nullified by an amnesty in early 1935.

            As for the Juan Carlos's alleged participation in the coup of 1981, I would like Anthony to provide some proof. I continue to ask why Juan Carlos would take such an extraordinary risk in the hope of securing something that he had already been offered legally?

            JE comments:  Juan Carlos was born in Rome in 1938.  When did he receive Spanish citizenship?  Was this something Franco conferred on him when he named the young King his successor?

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            • Citizenship of Alfonso XIII and Juan de Borbon (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/14/17 4:40 AM)
              First of all, I apologize for not having answered Paul Preston and Carmen Negrín earlier. I'm traveling through the US Northwest and sometimes I am not even looking at my iPhone, besides not having Internet access at all times. I'm in Montana right now. I wanted always to pay respects to Custer and to all who died at the Little Big Horn, Whites and Reds alike.

              I'll be back home sometime next week and then I'll answer Paul in kind about February 23, 1981.

              Nevertheless, two things real quick:

              I don't think that Carmen Negrín meant for a minute that her grandfather would have accepted to serve as Prime Minister under King Alfonso XIII!! Just the opposite, isn't it? This is what I understood, anyway, from her post. It couldn't be otherwise.

              On the issue of the citizenship of the Spanish royals, I have always understood that the Second Republic had deprived them all of all their rights including citizenship, but I could be wrong. I have read this in many books and essays published in Spain.

              In any case, some facts:

              On November 19, 1931, if I'm not wrong, the Republic approved a law declaring ex-king Alfonso XIII guilty of high treason on several grounds: the disaster at Annual, in Morocco, the coup d'etat of General Primo de Rivera of which he was apparently a principal instigator. It is true that he was judged and sentenced "in absentia," however the Count of Romanones acted in his defense. The sentence established that the ex-king and all his relatives were deprived of all titles, honors, prerogatives and even properties, but above all of their "Paz jurídica" (legal peace?). I don't understand what that could even mean in plain English, but I was told that in Spain, according to the law, it means all rights including citizenship and so forth.

              I'm sure that Paul Preston could give us all the right answer.

              In any case, General Franco, on December 15, 1938, from his provisional government in Burgos, approved another law invalidating the Republic's law from 1931 and returning all rights to the Spanish royals. Another reason for Juan Carlos to be thankful to Franco, I guess.

              On the issue of Juan Carlos's citizenship, John E is right to a point. If I am not wrong, Felipe V approved a law in 1713 ("Auto acordado de La Corona") regulating the access to the Crown, and establishing that being born abroad, outside Spanish territory, was an impediment to becoming the king of Spain, but that law was also rejected in 1789, to make it possible for Carlos IV to become king (the so-called "Pragmática Sanción").

              By the way, did Infante Juan de Borbón, Juan Carlos's father, have British citizenship? His mother, Queen Victoria Eugenia, was a British royal, and he served in the Royal Navy, I guess he had the right at least.

              JE comments:  Carmen Negrín also wrote to correct my editing mistake.  She doubts her grandfather would have served Alfonso XIII as Prime Minister.  (Carmen's post is next.)

              If you're still in Montana, Anthony, send us photos!  The high-strung, impetuous Custer is not one of my favorite military commanders, but he was a Michigan boy (from Monroe, near Adrian).  I have never been to Montana or the Dakotas.  Time to revisit the Bucket List.

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            • Would Juan Negrin Have Served a Monarchy? On Statelessness (Carmen Negrin, France 09/14/17 5:04 AM)
              My thanks to Paul Preston for his comments supporting my 9 September note.

              I do have to point out, in the name of honesty, that one of my sentences wasn't clear. It said: "I don't think, in fact I am sure, that had the war ended up with a king, my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."

              It started with "I don't think" (unfinished sentence) but continued with "I am sure ... my grandfather would have refused to become his Prime Minister."

              However, Paul and I don't fundamentally disagree, since it is true that my grandfather could have loyally served under the king, had he considered it absolutely indispensable for the good of Spain, for a dignified end of the war and mainly if it agreed with the will of the majority, after an election. He did request elections in his "trece puntos," and under all those conditions he might have accepted continuing in his position. As Paul also pointed out: too many "if"s! But, yes, Juan Negrín was a man of duty, not of personal ambition.

              About the Monarchs losing their nationality, I would like to know where it comes from.

              I have often noticed that the reproaches made by the Francoists to the Republicans were in fact often carried out by Franco himself. For instance, Franco did take away the Spanish nationality of all the exiles. My grandfather had a Nansen Passport and whenever he had to fill in migration forms he would write under "Nationality": "Spaniard," the customs officer never failed to cross it out and change it to "Stateless." It was so systematic that it had become a tragic game, a game for my brother and me who would wait to see if the officer had noticed and tragic for my grandfather who was refused his identity.

              Among so many accusations, one, among the most ridiculous ones, was my grandfather's supposedly excessive eating, but it is astonishing to read Franco's April 1st 1939 menu: the "sober man" had an 18th-century-style menu with entrées, fish, meat, wines, cheeses, desserts, etc. while the rest of Spain was starving. In the same order of ideas, he criticized the Republican government for having kept food for itself while in fact it had been stored (mainly beans) in Barcelona for the population for the exact six months it took for the Second World War to start. It was simple planning, even though they were considered reckless.

              More seriously, there are the killings attributed to the "Reds," when in fact there were 20 Paracuellos if not more, carried out by the rebels. Recently, I went to Paterna. In what seemed to be the tomb of one person, there were around 50 bodies thrown in. Day after day the shootings would go on, one day 20, the next day 36, and so on for months. Each day they would open up a new grave. Who talks about Paterna or the Málaga road? And more symbolically of course, is the fact that the rebels called themselves the "Nationals" and called the legal and official government the "rebels." Hitler used the same method with the Jews, accusing them of stealing the nation while he was stealing from them (and taking their lives)!

              They were already playing around with the concept of "fake news"!

              JE comments:  Isn't fake news as old as news itself?  My apologies to Carmen Negrín for the editing error.  I had interpreted "I don't think...he would have refused" as a classic double negative.  Two nos in English equals a yes, although we all know that no means no, and two nos doubly so.  ("I ain't got nobody...")

              Legal statelessness is a WAISworthy topic we've never discussed.  How is the concept being applied to the present refugee crises (Syria et al.)?  And what about the Ukrainians of Crimea?

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  • Remembering Juan Negrin in Spain Today (Carmen Negrin, France 08/30/17 4:06 AM)
    To my knowledge, there are three institutions with the name of Juan Negrín: the Fundación Juan Negrín in Las Palmas, the very recent Asociación de amigos de la Fundación JN in Valencia, which was created this year (http://www.lasprovincias.es/agencias/valencia/201701/08/nace-valencia-primera-asociacion-861018.html ), and the Agrupación Ateneista Juan Negrín within the Ateneo of Madrid (in which I am not involved).

    As far as I know that is it, in spite of his having been, among many other things, Prime Minister for almost 9 years (from 1937 to '39 in Spain and until 1945 in exile, needless to say not recognized by all). No streets, just a hospital, again in Las Palmas, a huge hospital, partly built on what was the family's land--which led my uncle, a doctor, not to attend its inauguration.

    The discussion about memory and streets or statues seems to be a complex debate, but in fact it is very simple, it is just about what the officials want to transmit to the future generations.

    In Paris for instance, we do not have a "rue Napoléon," but we do have a "rue Bonaparte," Not the same message.  On the French coast and in Denmark, bunkers have become museums.

    In Madrid, a number of streets are about to be rebaptized, taking away a number of names related to Franco. There was a discussion about having one put in my grandfather's name, but it seems the matter was put aside. However they will name one for Besteiro who already has a metro station and who joined Casado to give the coup de grâce to the Spanish Republic. (By the way, the text concerning Casado in Wikipedia needs a total rewriting!) In spite of the fact that Besteiro had been a well-respected person, he ended up betraying the Republic; this does not seem to bother those working on Spanish memory at the Alcaldía.

    Ignorance? It's certainly a confusing message for the Madrileños! And let us not mention the Valle de los Caídos which has not followed the European instructions to change its message! (http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-EN.asp?fileid=17417&lang=en )

    In Frankfurt's Städel Museum, there is a bust of Franco (the replica was given by Hitler to Franco), but next to the sculpture is a long explanation about who he was, on what occasion it was done and how the artist was forced to do it, next to it is another piece of art expressing the real hidden feelings of the artist.

    So basically, a monument or whatever will only express whatever one wants it to transmit.

    The problem arises when the message (not the monument) is contradictory and/or unethical and in particular if, under these conditions, it is supported by the politicians. And if the politician is unethical, we have a real problem!

    Next question: how does one define ethics in history?

    JE comments:   One silver lining of even the most controversial monument is that it teaches history--not through the monument itself, but through the debate surrounding its preservation or removal.  And yes, to address Carmen Negrín's final question, this is when the question arises of historical ethics.  Without a public discussion, history is static, irrelevant, and ultimately forgotten.

    Ukraine announced just a few days ago that it finally removed every one of the country's 1320 Lenin statues.  I am surprised this wasn't done years ago, but it's a lot of stone and bronze to move around.  Shouldn't the cash-starved Kiev government sell the surplus Lenins?  What theme park or eccentric gardener wouldn't want one for display?  Maybe Roman Zhovtulya, who is presently in Ukraine, can tell us what the government is doing with the statues.


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    • Ethics in History...and my Memoirs (Robert Whealey, USA 08/31/17 4:16 AM)

      Carmen Negrín (August 30th) raised an important question: "How does one define ethics in history?"

      As one who sympathizes with Spanish democracy, I define this in my draft memoir in the Table of Contents below.

      There are Jewish ethics and Christian ethics. See especially the Section on Civilizations.

      Returning to my manuscript, I invite questions or suggestions for improving the style.

      Democracy requires a continual debate within each nation-state in the EU and within each of the 50 states in the US.

      The Constitution of the US guarantees the free exercise of individuals to a free religion. This includes

      Atheists.  Like Voltaire, I am a skeptic about life after death. Carl Sagan, an astronomer, was a rationalist

      and an atheist. My ethics are limited to Newton's solar system.

      JE comments:  Thanks, Robert!  At 420 pages, this is a most impressive book-in-the-making.  Is the draft complete? 

      The Table of Contents lists treatises on politics, philosophy of history, comparative civilizations, and religion.  Where is the part about you, Robert?  Shouldn't you rethink the title "Memoirs" and go with something more accurate, such as "Keep Thinking:  A Historian's 80 Years of Reflection"?

      Finally, how do you address the often non-democratic nature of political Christianity, which in the US is monopolized by the Evangelical Right?

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      • Finishing One's Memoirs (Robert Whealey, USA 09/01/17 4:48 AM)
        No, to answer John E, the draft of my memoirs will never be complete.

        But the Sections from FDR to Reagan are reasonably complete. I am working on Section 11 on Governor Dukakis right now, since I know him personally. Part II on Religions and Civilizations is reasonably complete. I may live 1, 2, 5 even 10 more years. When I die, I hope my daughter Alice will find an editor.

        Trump is in an Epilogue.

        I make no predictions about his future and the fate of the Constitution.

        JE comments: Hang in there, Robert! As our Illustrious Founder Ronald Hilton often said, WAIS needs you.  (I'm going to append the 1915 Kitchener poster.  It's a classic.  Just replace "your country" with WAIS.  As a matter of fact, can anyone do this for us with Photoshop or equivalent?  Kitchener would be the perfect poster child for WAISdom's next fundraiser--he's stern, authoritarian, and motivational.)

        And yes:  Trump is an epilogue...but to what?

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