Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 14 July 6, 1938
War in Spain
War in Spain
Franco's Cause Debated
I have been paid the tribute by "Salient" of being asked to record a few impressions of last Friday night's historic debate on the Spanish situation. I should explain that I am a comparative newcomer to Wellington, unacquainted with "Salient" and its preoccupation with Questions That Matter, and was judged on that account, I believe, to be peculiarly fitted for the role of impartial onlooker.
Briefly, the debate was "That this house lends its support to General Franco and his Cause." The affirmative was taken by Mr. B. J. Barnao and Mr. P. McGavin, the negative by Mr. A. H. Scotney and Mr. J. D. Freeman; Mr. J. B. Aimers was in the chair and Mr. W. P. Rollings was judge. I was given to understand has the debate originated from a challenge hurled at "Salient" by Mr. Barnao.
After referring to the difficulty of arguing in the face of two years of propaganda through "The Dominion" and "Evening Post," plus the efforts of "Salient," Mr. Barnao kicked off with the premise that Franco had come to restore law and order where there was nothing but chaos there being for all practical purposes no Government in Spain in 1936. Mr. Barnao quoted in support of his arguments the U.S. Constitution, the constitution of the Spanish Republic, the London "Times" and a long list of alleged outrages to prove that following the election in 1936 of the People's Government there existed nothing but disorders throughout Spain. The Government did not make the slightest endeavour to restore order and the only alternative to anarchy and chaos was he rising of the army under Franco.
A Legal Government.
Mr. Scotney disparaged Mr. Barano's claim that the people of Spain rose to a man in support of Franco. If General Franco had three nations assisting him in addition to his Moors, a steady supply of modern muntions of war, and the people of Sapin to a man, who, hen, was he fighting" Quoting Gunther, Mr. Scotney claimed that the tragic events of 1936 had been precipitated largely by the untenable positions of the army and the church. The Government, moreover, was properly constituted and entirely legal, and at the time of Franco's rebellion there was no danger of a Communist uprising. "Franco." said Mr. Scotney, "is driving Spain, with weapons of modern warfare, back to the middle ages."
Furthering Mr. Barnao's statement that the People's Government was absolutely incapable of governing, Mr. McGavin quoted at great length and gave verse and chapter where breaches of the constitution had been commited. Franco was reluctant to rebel but when it became a matter of patriotic necessity he came forward to save the republic.
Mr. Freeman, who in the first few minutes of his address was thrown out of his stride by an interjector, and appeared almost on the point of walking off, quoted St. Thomas Aquinas to prove that no Spanish Catholic could be true to his faith and at the same time conscientiously support Franco. It was remarkable that he Basque people, true Catholics at heart, were unanimously supporting the Government.
First member to speak from the floor was Mr. Wah, who said that Franco stood for nothing but personal ambition and defence of a minority.
New Zealand's Precedent.
Mr. Ongley pointed out that many of the authorities quoted by previous speakers had obviously been influenced by their personal views, and personal impressions of what they had seen in Spain. Franco was fully justified in rising, and a precedent for the use of foreign troops was New Zealand's participation in the Boer War.
Mr. McDonald appeared very upset by the actions of a gentleman in the military whom he referred to as "General Ashtray." and who had said "down with inelligence," also by he fact hat a cabaret in which more depraved members of the bourgeoise had been abandoning themselves to low pleasures had been owned and operated by Spanish clergy.
Mr. Tahiwi said it was not so much a difference of religion in Spain as a schism between Socialist and anti-Socialist sections. Franco might be fighting for his faith but Government forces were fighting for Spain as well; Mr. O'Connor that there had been a Communist rising in 1934 in the Asturias, and Franco was fighting the menace of Communism; and Mr. Bergin that Franco was fighting for his faith, not for personal benefit.
In his replay, Mr. Scotney dealt at some length with the arguments raised [unclear: be] his opponents remarking that it seemed anybody who dared openly to uphold the principles of 19th century liberalism was labeled a Red. The Government had endeavored to institute a humanitarian, progressive regime, and the fight of the Spanish people for humanitarian progressive principles would go down as one of the epics of history.
There was mild Hurry when Mr. Barano in his reply accused his opponents of insulting the Catholie Church. When points of order and privilege had been settled, Mr. Barnao said that the so-called Spanish Government had become progressively the tool of the Communist International. The fact remained that the Government could not and did not govern. Franco had the support of the greater part of the people of Spain. Was it possible for him to govern two-thirds of the country without that support?
When put to the crowed house and to the society Mr. Barnao's proposition was decisively defeated. The judge, Mr. Rollings, gave the honor of best speaker to Mr. Freeman with Mr. Scotney second and Mr. [unclear: Tahiwai] third.