Under the Black Flag

The Boot-Licker

A fifth columnist is a supporter or secret sympathizer of an enemy nation, and the phrase was coined by Spanish nationalist general Emilio Mola.  Before World War II broke out in 1939, Europe was awash with references to “The Fifth Column at work,” and the phrase was bandied about by both appeasers and those who wanted to stand up to Hitler.  One thing was for sure: Jewish groups were adamant that appeasing Germany was the work of Fifth Columnists—until the Soviet-Nazi peace agreement was signed, that is.  (Twenty million dead afterward, and Europe in ruins, appeasers didn’t look as wrong as they had been previously thought.)

Those dread two words are hardly used nowadays, although the sort of subversion that undermines a nation’s solidarity is alive and kicking.  The New York Times, The New Yorker, CNBC, CNN—I could go on with most of America’s mainstream media—have done their utmost to reverse the 2016 presidential election result.  To call them Fifth Columnists would be an understatement.  When the 45th President openly declares he’d like good relations with a country that has more nukes than we do, they call him a traitor.  (Coming from an ex-head of the CIA, this was a bit rich.)  When Trump calls a spade a spade, like the “shithole countries” that are sending their criminals over here, they forget that...

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