If anyone was under the impression that offensive and ignorant opinion from North America is restricted to the wonderful world of blogs then read Canadian columnist Mark Steyn in today’s Daily Telegraph in a piece entitled The Spanish Dishonoured Their Dead
At the end of last week, American friends kept saying to me: “3/11 is Europe’s 9/11. They get it now.” I expressed scepticism. And I very much doubt whether March 11 will be a day that will live in infamy. Rather, March 14 seems likely to be the date bequeathed to posterity, in the way we remember those grim markers on the road to conflagration through the 1930s, the tactical surrenders that made disaster inevitable.
All those umbrellas in the rain at Friday’s marches proved to be pretty pictures for the cameras, nothing more. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the slain. In the three days between the slaughter and the vote, it was widely reported that the atrocity had been designed to influence the election. In allowing it to do so, the Spanish knowingly made Sunday a victory for appeasement and dishonoured their own dead.
We’ve gone over the arguments about the vote enough and Chris Bertram makes a good response over at Crooked Timber.
And I don’t want to take Steyn too seriously – he is a primitive anti-European and hopefully he won’t survive regime change at the Telegraph. There are far better conservative writers in the UK who don’t get space.
But he really shouldn’t be allowed to get away with the comment that “All those umbrellas in the rain at Friday’s marches proved to be pretty pictures for the cameras, nothing more.”
I make no apologies for repeating myself – Eleven million people took to the streets of Spain, less than 24 hours after the slaughter of 200 of their fellow citizens. A few days later right-wing American pundits are labelling them “cowards” and accusing them of “dishonouring their dead” because they voted for the ‘wrong’ party in the elections.
What “message” did those eleven million Spaniards send to the terrorists? I can’t think of a better show of defiance than taking to the streets when there is fear of another attack. It was brave and it was a huge two fingers to terrorism. It didn’t happen after any of the other Al-Quaeda attacks elsewhere in the world in the past two and a half years.
Who are the cowards then? Those who march in their millions against terrorism and stand in queues at the polls despite the very real fear of a repeat attack? Or those who attack them for expressing their choice at the polls?
Who dishonours the dead? Those who within the hours of the deaths ensured two demonstrations of the strength of their democracy? Or those who insult them from afar because they don’t ‘get’ Europe or democracy.