December 20, 2013
A new kind of class prejudice
For the Herald
Kirchnerites’ double standards
Last September, Andrew Mitchell, a leading Tory MP, set off a media firestorm in the UK that still rumbles on by calling some cops who got in his way “plebs,” thereby revealing himself to be a hateful snob who despised ordinary folk. For all right-thinking — that is left-thinking — Brits, his absolutely outrageous behaviour was just typical of the posh Old Etonians running their country. The Kirchnerite MP Juan Cabandié may have little in common with Mitchell, but he evidently shares many of his sentiments when it comes to the lower orders.
On being confronted last May by a traffic cop who told him his car’s papers were not in order, Cabandié, much like Mitchell, did his best to pull rank by informing the young lady in question that he was a very important person with friends in high places and so she would be well-advised not to mess with him. Unluckily for Cabandié, that minor spat got filmed for future use. It was released about a week ago, to the understandable delight of the many who are sick of being lectured on their moral failings by supposedly virtuous Kirchnerites.
In the UK, progressives took eager advantage of Mitchell’s somewhat old-fashioned way of putting plebeian policemen in what he assumed was their proper place in the scheme of things. In Argentina, the local progressives tried half-heartedly to defend Cabandié against a largely, but not entirely, conservative onslaught, before giving up and, with few exceptions, saying that they too disapproved of his lack of chivalry.
They could hardly do otherwise. In theory, they are all egalitarians determined to wage war on any remaining vestiges of class privilege, so they were naturally taken aback by the spectacle of one of their number behaving like an aristocrat accosted by some wretched proletarian. To make matters even worse, it turned out that Belén Mosquera, the young lady who had incurred Cabandié’s wrath, had soon after been fired from her job by the Lomas de Zamora municipality whose mayor, as it happened, was Martín Insaurralde, Cristina’s top candidate in the Buenos Aires Province mid-term elections that will take place a week from now. In full damage-limitation mode, Insaurralde fired the traffic department boss and said Belén would soon be rehired.
By then it was a bit late. Payback time had well and truly arrived. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of politicians and commentators were already busily excoriating Cabandié for his arrogance, loutishness and a great deal else. As far as they are concerned, he represents, with almost comical precision, much of what is wrong with the Kirchnerite dispensation.
Like Cristina and her hangers-on, they say, he believes himself to be above the law. On principle he is all for “the people”, but treats flesh-and-blood members of the category thus designated as though they were serfs. And, what many found most offensive, he thinks that as he was born in captivity to parents who were then done away with by the military, he should be treated with deference by all his fellow countrymen.
In other words, Cabandié, along with many others, had profited mightily by milking Argentina’s thriving human rights industry for all it was worth. Whenever they get a chance, people like him remind us that, as a victims of abuses that occurred forty or so years ago, they are entitled to do pretty much what they please That, more or less, is what Cabandié told Belén during their fateful encounter in Lomas de Zamora.
Like many other relatively youthful Kirchnerite activists, Cabandié belongs to the La Cámpora organization that was set up by Máximo Kirchner. For a time, Cristina — thought not, it would seem, Néstor — thought that their eldest son’s creation would, with the help of huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, grow big enough to take over the Peronist movement and keep the family firm in business for a couple of generations to come.
Such hopes now look misplaced. Some La Cámpora members may be bright enough, but many, it has been gleefully pointed out, are semiliterate dolts, a disadvantage that has not prevented them from going out of their way to infuriate senior Peronists who are currently sharpening their long knives in preparation for the day they will send them packing.
The furore sparked by Cabandié’s brush with a lady traffic cop, flanked by border guards with cameras or cell-phones at the ready, has, among other things, given Cristina’s foes a chance to attack the cynical way she has exploited Argentina’s “dirty war.” Much of her government’s propaganda is based on the totally unjustified assumption that she, along with her late husband, fought heroically against the dictatorship though, in fact, the couple made the most of a great opportunity to get rich by bullying indebted house-owners so they could buy their property for peanuts.
Be that as it may, according to the Kirchnerites, the country is still a battleground fought over by the spiritual heirs of the military regime, by which they mean everyone who is against them, and a tiny minority of brave democrats determined to thwart their evil plots. That is why Mr and Mrs Kirchner spent many millions of dollars to buy the allegiance of “human rights” organizations, such as a branch of the May Square Mothers, and gave a leg-up to people like Cabandié, promoting them far beyond what their talents or experience would warrant, with results that, all too often, have served to discredit both La Cámpora and the government its “militants” so fervently support.