Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Here's an article by Borja Gracia in Libertad Digital, a conservative Spanish website run by Federico Jimenez Losantos, Spain's most notable (or notorious) media right-winger. I actually think Jimenez Losantos is a bit of a pompous ass on the radio--he's on the COPE, the Catholic radio network, in the morning--, but I like a lot of the stuff that gets on his website. I can't stand the way he talks, though.

"Aznar murderer", "Iraq invaded by murderers and workers die in Madrid", "PP = Terrorism", "Aznar, coward, you're guilty", "You fascists are the terrorists", "Thanks Aznar for the Iraq war, consequence, 200 dead". These and other chants accusing the government of lying and asking for the "truth" could be heard and read at the "peaceful" and "spontaneous" demonstrations in front of various local PP headquarters which occurred on the "day of reflection" and which lead me, without knowing the election results, to these reflections. There are two arguments, one, that the Government is lying when it blames ETA for the bombings with electoral purposes. The other, that the bombings are the consequences of Spanish participation in the war and without that, they could have been avoided.

I will dedicate only one paragraph to the first accusation, since no matter how repeated it is, it doesn't get any less false. It is enough to remember that Interior Minister Acebes was the one who broke the news of a new line of investigation after the discovery of new clues before there was any other communication or leak at all. From there on the possibility of Islamic terrorism began taking shape. It was therefore the Minister himself who announced that possibility on the day of the attentat, and not even sixty hours had passed when the first arrests were made and announced, which did not favor the "manipulative" theses of the government. Those who make accusations of manipulation, many of them who, sinisterly, need for ETA not to be guilty of the bombings, "informed" about the participation in those bombings of, at least, one suicide terrorist. They are the ones who accused the Government of manipulation and of lying for initially centering the investigation on ETA. For these accusers it was not believeable that an attentat in Madrid, essentially identical to one broken up a couple of months ago in Atocha Station, had the same perpetrators as the others committed by those who have been killing for many years, ETA. We will also forget that Ibarretxe [of the PNV] and Carod-Rovira [of ERC] were those who at first believed in the ETA hypothesis most vehemently, and this fact did not make either of them change their political direction. The government did not manipulate us, we all thought initially and logically of ETA. Those who were manipulating at that moment with false news, like the one about the suicide bomber, were those who needed and wanted it not to be ETA.

The second of the accusations is more serious. There is a legitimate debate about the Iraq war, with arguments in favor and against. It is not legitimate to center this debate on false accusations of manipulation, lies, and conspiracy. The permanent delegitimizing of the adversary that some of those who opposed the war in Iraq made is not acceptable (even less so if what they are trying to delegitimize is a Government elected with more than ten million votes.) In England it has been demonstrated by Judge Hutton that the great falsehood was not the arguments used by the British government, but the accusations of lying that were made by several media of communication. The BBC lied in order to be able to accuse the government of lying. This is not part of legitimate debate in democratic countries.

It is part of legitimate debate about the war in Iraq to argue that, above all other reasons, Spain should not have supported the war in order to avoid becoming a target of Islamic terrorism. It does not stop being a legitimate argument because it is cowardly, and miserably cowardly. Some of those who hold this position are those who are now accusing Aznar, and by extension all of those of us who supported the war, of being murderers. When Jaime Mayor and Jose Maria Aznar implemented a policy of democratic intransigence against ETA and its accomplices in all spheres, they were aware that ETA's answer would be, as it always is, murder. Following this frightening reasoning, they are both the murderers of , among others, many local officials of their own party in the Basque Country who died in the ETA offensive [of the late 1990s]. The policemen who liberated Jose Antonio Ortega Lara [an ETA kidnap victim] were murderers too, because that liberation caused an ETA reaction in the shape, again, of the murder of Miguel Angel Blanco. [Blanco was kidnapped and held "for ransom" by ETA; they threatened to kill him if the Aznar government did not change its antiterrorist policy. The Aznar government refused and ETA shot him and dumped his body out of a car.] Those who arrest ETA members during a period of a terrorist "truce" in an obvious provocation are murderers too, and, on the other hand, those who asked for "political quid pro quos" for the terrorists after the arrest of ETA members in France during the next-to-last "truce" are heroes of peace.

If those who make such arguments were coherent, they would have been calling Aznar a murderer for a long time since because of his antiterrorist policies. That is what those who define the Basque problem as a conflict between two parts, both of whom are to blame, which should be solved through dialogue. But when they talk about ETA they cannot be so explicit, because the familiarity of this form of terrorism would reveal their cowardice to us with a bare face. If we have to keep the Islamic terrorists happy so they won't murder us, why should we make ETA terrorists uncomfortable because they kill us too? Coherence should make them explain the implications of their cowardice regarding the anti-terrorist struggle in Spain, referring to ETA. They won't do it, just like they'll never carry a sign saying ETA NO. They are miserable, but above all, very, very cowardly.

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