Sunday, October 22, 2017

Spain and the United States: Two Nations Badly Fractured

As you may know, Catalonia, a region in eastern Spain that has a distinct language and culture, has in recent years been making loud noises about possibly declaring independence. This despite the fact that the Spanish Constitution explicitly forbids any region of Spain from declaring independence. 

There is no denying that Catalonia has suffered its share of injustices at the hands of the central government in Madrid over the centuries. Most infamously, in 1714, Madrid abolished Catalonia’s traditional regional laws and governmental institutions, and also repressed the Catalan language. 

Yet this long-ago event is no excuse for the Catalan regional government’s brazen defiance of the rule of law. After all, Catalonia today is part of a free and democratic Spain. Their historical governmental institutions were restored decades ago, and the Catalan language is stronger and more vibrant than it has ever been before. Far from being an oppressed dominion of the Spanish Crown, Catalonia today is the richest part of Spain. 

My question for Catalan separatists is, “Why now?” As far as I’m concerned, Catalan separatists have not provided any satisfactory answers to that question. Their most common argument is that Madrid is “stealing our tax money.” Essentially, this argument boils down to resentment of the fact that they — the wealthiest region of Spain — have to pay for social services for Spain’s poorer regions. This in spite of the fact that Catalonia owes much of its prosperity to policies made in Madrid — policies that hurt the rest of Spain. 

During the nineteenth century, Catalan industrialists were the biggest beneficiaries of Spain’s trade with its colony Cuba. Protective tariffs placed high-quality British and American goods beyond Cubans’ reach, forcing them to settle for comparatively shoddy Catalan products. Thus did excessive protectionism contribute to resentment of Spanish rule in Cuba. During the twentieth century, misguided protection of Catalan industry continued with the Arancel Cambó, or Cambó tariff. From the 1920s until its repeal in the 1960s, the Arancel Cambó privileged Catalan industrialization at the expense of the economic development of the rest of the country. 

Clearly, then, Spain has contributed a great deal to the economic prosperity of Catalonia, of which all Catalans are justifiably proud. Catalan nationalists should be proud of their history as a part of Spain, notwithstanding its blemishes. They should be working alongside their fellow Spaniards to make Spain an even freer and more prosperous nation than it has ever been before. Their pathetic excuse for a rationale for separation is nothing more than thinly veiled classism and ungratefulness. 

The problems currently threatening the survival of the Spanish nation may seem distant and irrelevant to us here in the United States. Yet American society, too, is slowly but surely becoming as fractured as Spanish society. Part of Spain’s current troubles with Catalonia stem from the Catalan regional government’s decades of poisoning Catalan children’s minds with a biased, distorted, and inaccurate history curriculum that vilifies Spain at every turn while teaching Catalans that they are — once, now, and forever — victims of Spain. As former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “You cannot have a shared sense of belonging without shared experience. [...] Having many ways of teaching history, as we do today, does not create that commonality.” 

In the United States, we too are beginning to witness our shared national story — and, by extension, our shared sense of national solidarity — coming apart at the seams. In Dallas, Texas, for example, the school board is seriously considering renaming schools currently named after Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, as well as schools currently named after traditional heroes of Texas such as Sam Houston and William Travis. 

In Chicago, Illinois, a local pastor is demanding that a statue of George Washington be removed from a park. The pastor argues that Washington, who owned slaves, is no hero to African-Americans. “When I see that statue,” the pastor explains, “I see a person who fought for the liberties of white America. [...] Some people say to me, ‘Well, you know, he taught his slaves to read.’ That’s almost sad. That’s the equivalent of someone who kidnaps you and gives you something to eat.” The pastor says that while he has no objections to statues of Washington in majority-white neighborhoods, such statues have no place in majority-black neighborhoods. “I think,” he says, “we should be able to identify and decide who we declare heroes in our communities, because we have to tell stories to our children of who these persons were.” 

By arguing that black and white Americans do not have and should not have heroes in common, this pastor and his growing legions of fellow travelers are endangering the cohesion and social peace of the United States. 

The pastor’s arguments also happen to be bunk. Just as Catalans have every reason to be proud to be Spanish, African-Americans have many reasons to hold George Washington in high esteem. Although Washington was a slave owner who sometimes resorted to corporal punishment when disciplining disobedient slaves, he realized that the institution of slavery was immoral and hoped that it would be “abolished by slow, sure, and imperceptible degrees.” 

Moreover, Washington refused to allow his slaves to be sold without their consent, refused to split up enslaved families when he did sell slaves, and allowed slaves to serve in the Continental Army in exchange for their freedom. In addition, Washington was one of the few southern planters of his day who not only expressed opposition to slavery in principle but actually freed his slaves. 

While Washington stipulated in his will that his slaves were only to be freed upon the death of his wife, the only reason Washington did not free his slaves while he and his wife were still alive was because so many of his slaves had intermarried with those belonging to his wife (who owned slaves that she had inherited from a previous marriage) that it would have been too complicated to determine which slaves were legally his and which were legally his wife’s. Washington also stipulated that his slaves were to be taught a “useful occupation,” as well as how to read and write, prior to being freed. In addition, he created a fund for his longest-serving slaves, so that they would not starve after his death. 

Perhaps most impressively, Washington, who was a Southerner, once wrote that if the South ever attempted to secede from the Union because of the issue of slavery, he would move to the North and fight the South. 

While African-Americans today are understandably reluctant to regard a slaveholder as a friend to their community, the fact is that Washington did a considerable amount of good for his slaves — far more than most slave owners did for their slaves. Black and white Americans alike have every reason to hold the father of their country in high esteem. 

If, on the other hand, Americans of all races cannot even agree that Washington is a national hero, then it is hard to see how American society can maintain the “shared sense of belonging” that is so crucial to national identity, stability, and strength. America will suffer the same kind of division that is plaguing Spain. 

As tragic as Spain’s current plight is, that dark cloud has had one silver lining: the frighteningly real possibility that Spain could go the way of Yugoslavia or the USSR has generated a renewed sense of patriotism among Spaniards. Today, discotheques throughout Spain are playing the Marcha Real, the Spanish national anthem. Such a thing would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. 

Let us hope that Spaniards continue to develop a renewed appreciation for their country, its anthem, its flag, its illustrious heroes, and its glorious history, so that they may yet save their country from falling apart. And let us hope that we Americans do likewise, so that we may heal our divisions before they become intolerably sharp. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Covers and Ads

Here's some more cool stuff from the Brazilian Bugs Bunny comic book I blogged about here.

The front cover. In Brazil, Bugs Bunny is known as "Pernalonga":

The inside front cover, the text of which reads as follows:

Headline: “Guess what I have in my hands!” 

Text below Bugs Bunny: “This month, let’s have some real fun with ton of games and pastimes that I invented! We’ll connect the dots, find mistakes, color drawings, and dress up dolls. Let’s have fun with the Easter Games! Come play with me!”  

Text inside blue “ka-boom” graphic: Available at all newsstands 

Title of activity book (featured at the bottom of the ad): Bugs Bunny’s Games and Pastimes 

An ad for a Jetsons comic book, the text of which reads as follows: 

Headline: # 2 Now on Sale! 

Text below cover: In this edition, besides the Jetsons’ space age adventures, you’ll read: 
Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks * Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey * Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy 

Look for it in the newsstands 

Finally, an ad for a Disney activity book, the text of which reads as follows: 

Headline: Shall we play Sherlock? 

Main Text: First, go to your nearest newsstand and look for a magazine with an illustration just like this one on the cover. Then, grab your colored pencils, glue, and a pair of scissors, and get to work! We'll find clues and catch those villains! We’ll make our own disguises! And assemble jigsaw puzzles! And take fingerprints! We’ll even decode secret messages! 

Let’s read, color, cut out, and play with…

The Junior Detectives 

Toys and Games 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

George Washington's Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Rules of Civility

NOTE: This post is part of a recurring series of posts reproducing a series of rules that are commonly known as George Washington's rules of civility. Though Washington did not invent them, he learned them as a child, and they certainly help to explain why and how George Washington was a man of such great character. For the previous post in this series, please click here.

2. "When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered."

3. "Show nothing to your friend that may affright him." 

4. "In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers and feet." 

5. "If you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, do it not loud but privately; and speak not in your yawning, but put your handkerchief or hand before your face and turn aside."

Sunday, October 8, 2017

What's Going on in Catalonia?, by Ramiro Ledesma Ramos

We repeat our question, which we asked in our previous issue, because in the last week the intensity of Spaniards’ worries and fears has been greater than the rate at which they have received news. The Spanish people unanimously demand that what is happening and what threatens to happen in Catalonia be explained to them in the clearest language possible. Three ministers of the Provisional Government have visited Catalonia recently. Upon their return, they have made very vague declarations — veritable babbling that no one has understood. Three days ago, we traveled many kilometers throughout Spain. We were very moved by the many groups of Hispanics we saw huddled around their radios, anxiously awaiting news about the Catalan problem. 

Today, all of Spain looks at Catalonia and sees it under the control of that minority of absurd men that inevitably emerges in societies all over the world. The rest of Spain must immediately and heroically intervene in the Catalan question, for two reasons. First, for the sake of saving our national unity, which the Catalan question imperils in a mediocre manner. Secondly, for the sake of saving Catalonia itself, a part of Spain, which is also in danger while it is in the hands of this traitorous minority. We do not question the clear revolutionary authority of the Provisional Government. We said as much eight days ago. Neither does all of Spain. That is why Spain today implores its provisional Government to rapidly begin to intervene near the bosom of the rebellious minority in Catalonia. 

It is well that all pertinent matters be brought before the constituent Cortes [Parliament]. Soon they will vote on and approve whatever needs to be voted and approved. The supreme national interest — including the revolutionary interest — does not permit the consolidation of de facto situations so anomalous and disconcerting as this one that sprouts in Catalonia. 

We are in possession of myriad newspaper clippings that document the Catalanists’ undisclosed ambitions. If the contents of these clippings were spread throughout Spain, the rebels in Catalonia would feel this very day the energetic pressure of the Hispanic people. 

It is known that the separatists are promoting their ideas in Valencia and the Baleares, claiming that this three regions make up the future Catalan nation. Will Spaniards allow the imperial, integrationist idea that constitutes their very lifeblood as a people to be wrested away from them? 

This is no time for provincial local considerations, but rather for loyalty to the great historical nationalities. The idea of Spain should be beyond debate or dispute, and the Provisional Government of the Republic cannot afford to delay its decisive word for even one minute. Out with that spectacle at the Spanish University of Barcelona! Out with the [Catalan] Government of [Francesc] Macià! 

And we energetically demand: Discipline and revolutionary patriotism on all fronts! 

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos, in La Conquista del Estado, no. 7 (4/25/1931) 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Recommended Reading, and Words of Wisdom

The other day, Spain's King Felipe VI took up the gauntlet that was thrown by the Catalan Generalitat. Excerpts: 

“We find ourselves at a critical juncture for our existence as a democracy. In these circumstances, I wish to address all Spaniards. We have all witnessed the events that have taken place in Catalonia, with the illegal declaration of independence as the final goal of the Catalan executive [Generalitat].

“I am well aware that in Catalonia there is also great concern and anxiety about the Catalan authorities’ behavior. To those who feel that way, I assure that they are not, nor will they be, alone; they have all the support and the solidarity of the rest of the Spanish people, as well as the absolute guarantee given by the rule of law in the defense of their freedom and their rights. 

“These are troubled times, but we will overcome them. These are very complicated times, but we will get through them. Because we believe in our country and we are proud of what we are. Because our democratic principles are solid and strong. And they are like this because they are based on the wishes of millions and millions of Spaniards who want a peaceful and free coexistence. That is how we have gradually built Spain in these last decades. And that is how we must go forward, with serenity and determination. On this road, in that improved Spain that we all desire, Catalonia will be there too.” 

As Rod Dreher would say, read the whole thing ("In English translation, even!," as the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss would say). In all seriousness, read it. It’s by far the best speech I have heard a politician (if a constitutional monarch can be regarded as a politician) give in my lifetime. 

Former Spanish foreign minister Ana Palacio does something you rarely see a mainstream politician do. She states the painfully obvious. I mean that as a sincere compliment. Normally, politicians speak in vague euphemisms. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Palacio departed from that practice to call the Catalan government’s attempt at secession what it is: an illegal coup d’état. She went on to state that Spain has got to centralize its educational system, for the sake of its national unity. The key excerpt: 

“Four decades ago, Spain peacefully moved from dictatorship to democracy. In that moment there was an undeniable unity. Everyone felt a loyalty to the project of Spain even if they had different visions of what it should look like. That feeling has been lost.

“Perhaps we have been so blinded by the success of the Transición that it has been difficult to appreciate that Spain has reached a critical juncture. The crisis in Catalonia has made plain the problems of Spain’s decentralization. You cannot have a shared sense of belonging without shared experience. This puts front and center the challenge of education that Spain faces. Having many different math books or many ways of teaching history, as we do today, does not create that commonality.” 

The Wall Street Journal hides its articles behind a paywall, but you should be able to read the whole thing by clicking on the link inside this tweet from Spanish journalist Hermann Tertsch

Finally, some words of wisdom from George Washington, the father of the United States, from when he put down the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s. I can’t think of a quote that is more applicable to the current tragic situation in Spain: 

"If the laws are to be trampled upon with impunity, and a minority (a small one too) is to dictate to the majority, there is an end put, at one stroke, to republican [i.e., democratic] government." 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Catalonia: Three Inconvenient Truths (Courtesy of Stanley G. Payne)

NOTE: The following phrases are excerpts from “Catalan and Basque Nationalism,” an article by Stanley G. Payne that appeared in the Journal of Contemporary History in 1971. Dr. Payne is probably the greatest living Hispanist. 
  1. Catalonia Owes its Prosperity to Madrid:  
“The crisis of Catalan integration within the pluralistic Hispano-Habsburg system came in the revolt of 1640-52, which reproduced key features of the struggle of the 1460s and 70s, including sharp internal conflict and the ever-present threat of falling to the status of a French protectorate. The outcome of that revolt was merely a return to the pluralistic status quo, but Catalan espousal of the Habsburg cause in the Spanish Succession War of 1702-15 finally brought the abrogation of most features of Catalan particularism, the main exception being retention of the regional legal codes.”  

“For the first time in its history, Catalonia during the eighteenth century was fully integrated into the broader affairs of Spain. This was a period of notable expansion in Catalan agriculture, manufactures, and above all commerce. Catalans revealed themselves to be fully conscious of the advantages offered by the Spanish system and proved completely loyal subjects of the crown.”  

“Though at first political affairs in Catalonia were kept under tight central control, the upper middle class Catalan elite was largely integrated into the two rotating Conservative and Liberal parties that governed Spain in the final quarter of the nineteenth century. The years 1878-88 were a period of almost unprecedented prosperity for Catalan industry and commerce, and were known as the era of the febre d'or (gold fever). The expansion of the nineteenth-century Catalan economy was 
paralleled by a rebirth of Catalan vernacular literature, commonly referred to as the renaixenfa (renaissance).” 

“During the two main Carlist civil wars (1833-40 and 1869/73-76), Catalonia had been second only to the Basque country and Navarre in the degree of support given to the traditionalist [Jaime de Andrade note: i.e. pro-absolute monarchy] cause. Though overt support for Carlism [JdA note: i.e. support for absolute monarchy]  declined steeply after 1876, former Carlists showedbincreasing interest in the pro-traditionalist, anti-centralist aspects of Catalanism.”  

“The new protective tariff of 1891 largely satisfied Catalan demands, however, and the expansion of trade with Cuba during the final quarter of the century provided a closed and protected market that absorbed the bulk of Catalan exports outside the peninsula. Hence, despite growing demands by cultural particularists, political reformers and regional traditionalists, the main economic interests of Catalonia, were largely satisfied with the functioning of the established political system until the disaster of 1898 [JdA note: i.e. the Spanish-American War].”  

“Enric Prat de la Riba defined Spain as the political state and Catalonia as the true fatherland of Catalans, who were said to constitute a distinct and fully developed nationality; hence their state must be altered to conform to their nationality. Catalan nationalism was not separatist but demanded a regional parliament and government and a fully autonomous regional administrative system, which would develop the economy, society, and culture of Catalonia, while preserving its traditions” 
  1. Catalanism Was Significantly Strengthened by the Spanish-American War: 
“It has sometimes been suggested that full-blown regional nationalism was the result of the disaster that befell Spain as a national and international entity after the Spanish-American war of 1898. In one sense that is correct, but it overlooks the steadily rising tide of Catalan particularism that had been building up since at least 1869.”  

“At least 1869. Catalan economic interests had denounced concessions to the Cubans, but in 1898 Catalan spokesmen were the only significant group in Spain that opposed the war with the United States, deeming it impractical and completely hopeless.” 

“The disillusion that attended Spanish affairs in the aftermath of the loss of the last remnants of the historic empire gave rise to numerous calls for 'Regeneration', ranging from the radical republicans to the Carlists. In Catalonia, Regenerationism gave a major impetus to Catalanism.”  

“Yet the first political attempt of an alliance with middle-class Catalanism foundered on the divisions among the forces composing the Silvela government itself and also on the hostility of Catalan economic interests to paying higher taxes in order to meet post-war government debts. This resistance led to a brief but intense taxpayers’ strike in Barcelona that ended with the temporary imposition of martial law”  

“Catalonia was more affected by the first world war than was any other part of Spain. By 1915 war orders, mainly from France, gave a powerful impetus to commerce and industry. Production, profits, employment and worker immigration increased enormously during the next three years. The Lliga and Catalan economic interests, however, took the position that insufficient assistance was given by the government, which refused to grant Barcelona unique status as the only free port in Spain, and in 1916 Liberal reformists in Madrid pressed for a special tax on war-related profits.” 
  1. Radical Leftists, Both in Catalonia and in the Rest of Spain, Played a Key Role in the Radicalization of Catalanism:  
“Cambó had a considerable talent for manoeuvre and superior intellectual gifts. Like nearly all Catalanists before 1923, he was not a separatist, but merely sought a role of autonomy (and pre-eminence) for Catalonia within Spain.”  

“The king, Alfonso XIII, decided to use his constitutional prerogative to appoint a minority reformist Liberal government under the Conde de Romanones, whose main task would be to put through a workable Catalan autonomy statute, with the aim of satisfying the moderate and functional elements of the Catalanist movement and so rechannel Catalanism within the mainstream of the Spanish system, using it as a force for integration rather than disintegration.”  

“However, this coincided with the general crisis attending the end of the war, which affected Spain almost as much as many other European countries. The revolutionary movements increased their activity, and left-Catalanists sent a delegation to Paris to seek international support for their demands. Spanish republicans and socialists saw the moment as propitious to press for the overthrow of the monarchy. The establishment of Catalan autonomy would resolve one of the country's main political disputes and so strengthen the constitutional monarchy of Alfonso XIII. Hence they urged left-Catalanists to refuse to co-operate with the commission and to reject any solution from 'Madrid'. Most of the left-Catalanist factions,believing that the general Catalan movement was about to obtain enough leverage both at home and abroad to impose a solution of its own, rejected the commission's proposal for a system of regional political and administrative autonomy for Catalonia, on the ground that autonomy must be established exclusively on the terms of Catalans and not of 'Spaniards’” 

“Cambó personally opposed this, but with great bitterness agreed to support the left Catalanist veto in a desperate effort to maintain the recently established unity of all factions of Catalanism before they split as under once more.”  

“The whole episode was a classic of the famed Catalan all-or-nothingism. An excellent opportunity to obtain genuine Catalan regional autonomy was rejected by the Catalans themselves, owing to the determination of leftists from all parts of Spain not to see constitutional monarchy strengthened by the passage of major reforms within the system.”  

“During the last five years of the parliamentary system (1918-23), the Lliga co-operated with the central government and with the all-Spanish party system, and Cambó became one of the three or four most trusted and respected public figures in Spain. The political chiefs of the Lliga and the representatives of Catalan interests in general became increasingly concerned about the disruption of the Spanish system by class struggle and internal division. Though they did not in any way relinquish the goal of Catalan autonomy, they refrained from emphasizing the problem.” 

“Three months later General Miguel Primo de Rivera overthrew the parliamentary regime and set up a military dictatorship. At the time he was military commander of Catalonia and was at first supported by middle and upper class Catalanists who regarded him as a bastion of social order and took at face value his protestations of sympathy for Catalanism and his vague hints at reform. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the dictatorship was a product of the febrile, extremist climate of Barcelona. But once in power Primo de Rivera came to embody a centralist reaction against Catalanism. The Mancomunitat was dissolved in 1924, and the first generation of political Catalanism ended in failure and in authoritarian rule.”  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thoughts on the Situation in Catalonia

Many foreign observers of the situation — perhaps most prominently the British author J. K Rowling — are expressing outrage at what they see as the Spanish government's repression of Catalans’ democratic rights. I've seen numerous tweets claiming that "Franco is back" or some other such poppycock. Here is my response to these people, which I will freely admit owes a great deal to the Spanish historian and political commentator Pío Moa, whose writings I have been reading with great interest for several years now: 

1. The secessionist referendum that took place today is illegal — it violates the Spanish Constitution.

2. That fact aside, this referendum was not conducted in a fair and free way. There has been rampant voter fraud. There are numerous photos of the same individuals voting in multiple polling places.   

3. At least one photo of an alleged victim of police brutality appears to show show red paint on her face… Also, separatists have circulated a photo of a bloodied child, claiming that he is a victim of today's police brutality. It turns out, though, that that photo is actually five years old and shows a victim of Catalan regional police brutality. Mighty weird, to say the least… 

4. Franco is not back. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, if the Francoist regime had survived Franco in some form, the situation would never have developed to the tragic point we see today, with Catalonia on the verge of declaring independence. Make no mistake: what happened today in Catalonia is a direct consequence of 40 years of rejection of the Franco regime’s legacy. 

5. Catalan separatists — along with other regional separatists, anarchists, and Communists — destroyed the Second Spanish Republic. Yet those who, claiming to be defenders of democracy, profess to be admirers of that regime are staunchly supportive of separatists, anarchists, and Communists. 

6. When Franco passed away, Catalan separatism was a very weak political force, as were anarchism and Communism. Through its economic policies, thanks to which Spain was the fastest-growing economy in Europe in 1975, the Franco regime had effectively eroded the forces that had brought the Second Spanish Republic to its knees. When Franco died in 1975, Spain had a real chance of becoming a prosperous, peaceful, and stable democracy — by building on Franco’s achievements, not by brushing them aside.  

7. That said, the Catalan separatist movement still existed when Franco died. The dragon was badly weakened but not slain. Because of their weak position, Catalan separatists in the 1970s did not publicly call for independence for Catalonia. Instead, they merely advocated autonomy for their region. But their ultimate goal remained secession. As their leader Jordi Pujol said at the time, “Today, patience. Tomorrow, independence.”  

8. In his final testament, Franco warned the Spanish people: “Do not forget that the enemies of Spain and of Christian civilization are alert.” Unfortunately, his successors did not heed this warning. Ignoring the fact that the democracy they were building was made possible by Franco, they proceeded to completely destroy Franco’s legacy. Instead of preserving the unitary state they inherited from Franco, they proceeded to give autonomy to Spain’s various regions. They even allowed education to be handled by the local governments. It was through the education system that separatist enemies of Spain began to erode support for the unity of Spain, by teaching future generations of Spaniards to hate their country.  
9. Liberal and conservative national governments alike lavishly funded these anti-Spanish local governments, while at the same time shunning Spaniards who continued to defend the unity of their country. Throughout Spain, the political class promoted the local and disdained the national. For instance, in Andalusia, the local government declared the late Blas Infante (a politician who revered the old Moorish caliphates that occupied Spain for centuries) “Father of the Andalusian Fatherland.” Just think about the implications of that phrase. In other words, the Spanish political class glorified the things that divided Spaniards and stigmatized the things that united them. Although Spanish governments at least fought the Basque separatist terrorist group ETA, this, too, changed — under the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Rather than fight ETA as a criminal organization, Zapatero decided to negotiate with them. In 2011, ETA agreed to renounce violence. In exchange, Basque separatist politicians began to receive generous government funding. Thus was a violent terrorist group rewarded with legitimacy in the eyes of the state (the implication of the negotiations) and with Spaniards’ tax euros (the result of the negotiations). This after ETA had been brought to its knees by the aggressive police actions of José María Aznar, Zapatero’s conservative predecessor. In other words, by negotiating with domestic terrorists, the Spanish state essentially legitimized domestic terrorism as a form of a political action. So much for the rule of law!  

10. As a result of this anti-Spanish tendency, things got to a point where citizens who flew the Spanish flag were generally regarded as fascists (unless, of course, the Spanish soccer team was participating in some important international tournament — during such occasions, and only during such occasions, were displays of Spanish patriotism politically correct). The logical end result of all of this — giving autonomy to regions despite the separatist threat, placing the education system in the hands of separatists, and shaming Spanish patriotism — was increasingly emboldened separatists. Last year in Catalonia, things got to a point where people who wore clothing displaying a Spanish flag were liable to be beaten up by antifa activists. Even supporting the Spanish national soccer team was no longer politically correct in Catalonia. Only very recently, as a reaction against the separatist pressures in Catalonia, has there been something of a resurgence of genuine patriotism among the Spanish people.   

11. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with promoting local culture — indeed, promoting and preserving local culture is very important, since without local traditions the nation is meaningless. But this must done in a patriotic manner, as opposed to a way that engenders hatred of the nation. 

12. The magnificent economic legacy of Francisco Franco, and the weight of centuries of history as a unified state, are the only reasons Spain even exists today. 

13. Having said all of that, the Spanish government handled today’s referendum extremely stupidly. If the Spanish government’s goal is to guarantee a Catalan secession and widespread international recognition of the new Catalan state, then the Spanish government couldn’t have planned it better. Having the police brutally attack people who are trying to vote is playing directly into the hands of the Catalan separatists. And the Catalan separatists knew this — this is why many separatists brought their children to polling places. They shrewdly calculated that pictures of police attacking women, children, and elderly people over a referendum would result in worldwide revulsion against the Spanish government and an outpouring of sympathy for the cause of Catalan separatism. In the face of such revolting images, what moral force do legalistic appeals to the Spanish Constitution have? None. What moral weight does one video of a Spanish police officer successfully convincing a Catalan separatist to get his child out of harm’s way carry, in the face of dozens and dozens of pictures of police brutality? 

14. Using police force against voters was not the way to handle this situation. Instead, the government should have had the leaders of the Catalan regional government arrested for violating the Constitution weeks ago, when they announced their intention of holding the referendum after the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that the referendum was unconstitutional. That would have no sparked no great moral outrage, and it might have prevented the referendum from taking place. Instead, the government used police brutality against citizens who wish to vote (who are wrong, but are not really at fault here… remember, generations of Catalans have been indoctrinated in hatred of Spain). In so doing, the government has provoked widespread moral outrage — understandable and justifiable outrage, I might add. All the while, the illegal referendum took place, notwithstanding the government’s bizarre Baghdad Bob-like denials that the referendum occurred. Can Spain be saved from disintegration at this point?