Post Robespierre and IS: A New Reign of Terror
Created by John Eipper on 09/18/14 8:08 AM

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Robespierre and IS: A New Reign of Terror (Massoud Malek, USA, 09/18/14 8:08 am)

Maximilien de Robespierre, an eloquent spokesman for the poor and oppressed, was the most influential figure during the period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, commonly known as the Reign of Terror. Robespierre, who opposed the power of the Catholic Church and the Pope, insisted that the National Convention proclaim a new official religion for France--the Cult of the Supreme Being. The notion of the Supreme Being was based on ideas that Jean-Jacques Rousseau had outlined in The Social Contract.

When the Convention debated the fate of Louis XVI, as a prisoner of the revolutionaries, Robespierre (who was once an opponent of the death penalty) led the way in claiming that "Louis must die without a trial, in order for the Revolution to live."

With the support of Robespierre, the law of the Great Terror, which doubled the number of executions permitted by the Committee of Public Safety, was enacted on 10 June 1794. On 28 July 1794, Robespierre was guillotined without trial in the "Place de la Révolution" and was buried in a common grave. In 1848, his remains were moved to the Catacombs of Paris.

Robespierre had huge support among the poor of Paris and is revered by the poor of Haiti today. He was one among the 16,594 people executed in France during the Reign of Terror.

Giovanni Battista Bugatti was the longest-serving executioner of the Papal States from 1796 to 1865. He recorded the name of the condemned, the crime, and the location of the execution for each of the 516 (358 by guillotine) "justices" he performed. Bugatti thought such executions to be necessary for the control of the masses.

The nickname of the papal executioner Bugatti was Mastro Titta, slang for Master of Justice. His blood-stained clothes, axes and guillotines are on display at the Museum of Criminology at Via del Gonfalone in Rome. During Pope Pius IX's rule, 133 people were executed by Bugatti in the Papal States. The Pope let him retire at the age of 85 with a considerable pension.

For Pius IX, modernity signified everything that was evil in society, including, among other things, freedom of religion and religious tolerance, freedom of speech, thought, and press, and the separation of church and state. In 1860, Pope Pius IX, in collaboration with other church officials, did recruit both prisoners and known terrorists from Southern Italy to form a new unlawful organization for the purpose of crime. This organization is known as the Cosa Nostra or Mafia.

In 2000, Pope Pius IX, who gave us the Mafia, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and the definition of human starting from the moment of conception onward, was beatified by John Paul II.

Canonization requires two attested miracles. It is an infallible statement by the Church that the saint is in heaven with God. Beatification requires one attested miracle. "Blesseds" are those who have been beatified. The miracle attributed to Pius IX, verified by the Medical Commission on 15 January 1986, and proclaimed definitive in December 1999, was the inexplicable cure of a French nun. Is Pope Pius IX in heaven with God?

Today the terrorists in Syria and Iraq are creating another Reign of Terror. They believe in a Supreme Being based on ideas that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Wahhabi (1703-1792) came up after reading tales from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his favorite wife, Ayesha.

Like Pope Pius IX, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who transformed a few Iraqi terror cells into the Islamic State (IS), doesn't believe in the separation of religion and state; and like Robespierre, who sent thousands of people to their death under the guillotine, Baghdadi is commanding his followers to decapitate men, women, and children with knives.

The Papal execution consisted of a parade with masked priests, banners, scriptural readings, and sermonizing, culminating in the death of the condemned. Today, IS executions are not very different from Papal executions. The Bible is replaced by the Koran and a small knife does the same job as a guillotine.

It is wrong to assume that ISIS is actively recruiting European Muslims and recent converts. These mainly teenagers are already terrorists in their hearts when they arrive in Syria or Iraq. There, they follow their hearts by using guns, knives, and killing innocent people. Their leaders seek publicity through the feeding frenzy created by journalists and YouTube videos via iPhone cameras. Like Robespierre and his friends, the more people they kill, the more publicity they get from the media. That is why poor and disenfranchised citizens of the world are eager to join the IS Caliphate.

JE comments:  How accurate is the "Pius IX started the Mafia" claim?  The references I've seen on the Internet seem to trace back to here:

Have you ever noticed that IS is now known in the media as the "so-called Islamic State," or "the (terror) group that calls itself the Islamic State"?  "ISIS," while dated, is far less clumsy.

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  • Pius IX and Cosa Nostra/Mafia (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/20/14 7:09 AM)
    I believe Massoud Malek (18 September) may be wrong about who started the Mafia in Italy.

    The Mafia (Cosa Nostra) started in Sicily. It was first mentioned in 1837 in the agriculture areas, where the State was almost non-existent.

    Pius IX may have seen sympathetically the phenomenon of brigandage that developed in the regions of Central South Italy, which had just united with the Kingdom of Sardinia in the new Kingdom of Italy (1861). Some of these brigands were apparently loyal to the old (former) states.

    The Mafia, as I have pointed out before, was practically wiped out by Mussolini. It returned with the US Army and their good friend Governor General Charles Poletti, who named some famous mafiosi town mayors, no matter if they were illiterate. Many mafiosi were freed from US jails in order to help in the conquest of Sicily.

    By the way, the conquest was not a milk run, as mainstream history tends to claim. There were also several cases of the murder of Italian and German prisoners. In one case, Sgt. Horace T. West was put under Court Martial for killing 37 prisoners and sentenced to life, but after one year he returned to normal duty in the Army. He then went on to kill another 45 prisoners. (See: Court-Martial Record, Sgt Horace T. West APO 45 U.S. Army Dig Op. JAG 1912-40, sec.402 30 August 1943.)

    JE comments:  Wikipedia writes of Poletti,  "He had an understanding of the local culture and sufficient stature to earn the respect of the Sicilian people."  The article also mentions the Governor's possible Mafia ties, but rejects the accusations as unfounded.

    Poletti died very recently, in 2002, at the age of 99.  Not only was he the first Italian-American governor of any state (New York), at the time of his death he was the oldest living former governor.

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    • Gov. Charles Poletti (Roy Domenico, USA 09/20/14 10:50 AM)
      Regarding Eugenio Battaglia's post on Charles Poletti (20 September), I did quite a bit of work on Poletti who, as I remember, served 42 days as New York Governor, from Herbert Lehman's resignation until an election determined his successor.

      One of the best things about contemporary history is that you sometimes talk to the people you're writing about. My dissertation concerned the Allied occupation of Italy at the end of World War II and Poletti served as not only Sicily's governor, but he followed the armies up the peninsula and finished in Milan. His archives are at Columbia and one discovers certain quirks--he collected bric-a-brac with boxer (dogs) motifs. Little boxer statuettes are all over the place--as well as a magnificent bust of him and dedicated to the "Governatore di Roma."

      He was pretty popular and--at least when I was working on him in the 1980s--still remembered for his refreshingly American motto, "Less chatter, more spaghetti." I wrote to him at his retirement home at San Marco Island in Florida and asked him about the Sicilian Mafia connection and he blew me off--"I don't remember anything; consult my archives." I thought, ah well, just another grad student brushed off (for another project, I was similarly dismissed by McGeorge Bundy and Henry Kissinger--actually worse; those came from their respective secretaries). But then a few years later, I saw a documentary where the investigator asked Poletti the same question and his response was essentially the same--I don't remember, consult my archives. By the way, in my second project, on the Johnson administration, the Vatican and the Vietnam War, I received very kind--and sometimes even informative--letters from Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, Arthur Schlesinger, George Reedy and Dean Rusk.

      JE comments: It seems to me you would remember if you had Mafia connections. But I will give Poletti credit for one of the best political slogans I've ever heard:  less chatter, more spaghetti.

      Thank you for this great response, Roy.

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