An anti-fascist fighter to the end

May 4, 2010

I FOUND out recently, by way of YouTube, that well-known Madison, Wis., activist Clarence Kailin died at the age of 95 this past October--a year after I moved from Madison to Portland, Ore.

Clarence was a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, 15th Brigade, of the International Brigades, which fought on the side of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.

While it is true that there were some serious problems with the leadership of the international contingents and of the political leadership of the Spanish government, this should not be cause to denigrate the individual heroic volunteers of the International Brigades. This was not the first time, historically (nor I suspect the last time) that honorable and courageous people have been denied the leadership they deserved.

I first crossed paths with Clarence while attending an antiwar planning meeting, shortly after my arrival in Madison. At that time, Clarence was a few months away from his 90th birthday.

Anyone that age, who had spent the past 70 years as an antifascist fighter, union builder, civil rights advocate and antiwar activist, could certainly be forgiven, if they wanted to retire from political activity and sit back and allow a younger generation to continue the struggle for a better world.

This was not Clarence's style. He was active to the end.

The last time I heard Clarence speak was at a Memorial Day event in May of 2008--not to glorify war, but to speak out against U.S. wars of imperialist aggression.

On this May Day, one of the several toasts that I drank to was to the memory of Clarence Kailin and the heroes of the International Brigades. No Pasaran!
Ken Morgan, Portland, Ore.

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