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." 

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