Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I forgot to mention something in the last post. It is not uncommon here for demonstrators to demonstrate just to be a pain in the ass. For example, there is a neighborhood called Gavà Mar near the airport. The residents are all p.o.ed because there's too much noise. (So why did you idiots buy houses by the airport? The airport's been there for much longer than that neighborhood has.) So they decided to hold a demonstration. Fine, you would think, let them stand in front of City Hall with their protest signs, even if their cause is stupid and selfish. But, nope, that's not what they did. They blocked the access road to the airport and wouldn't let anybody through. For more than an hour. Hundreds of people missed their flights or had to walk more than a mile from the demonstrators' barricade to get to the terminal. Traffic was backed up for kilometers. This just happened a couple of weeks ago.

Why the hell weren't they all arrested and trucked off to jail and charged with disturbing the peace, being a public nuisance, blocking a public highway (which, of course, belongs to everybody), and interfering with law enforcement and public emergency vehicles? That's not a peaceful demonstration. That's interfering with other people's rights. Something similar happens during the summer, every year, when farmers all get together and blockade the rural highways while "demonstrating" for more subsidies. Occasionally they set up barricades of burning tires. They're never dragged off en masse and booked on charges of being a general pain in the ass. I bet if that happened just two or three times these jerks would stop doing that crap and would confine their demos to the bounds of legality. I bet if the airport sued the organization that blocked the access Spain it wouldn't do any good at all.

I just don't know what to say about the tsunami. What a tragedy. So many dead people. Entire cities were destroyed. Now we've got to help clean up the mess; the US has already promised $25 million and more will be coming. This is the biggest natural disaster that I can remember. They're talking 100,000 possible fatalities. And on top of everything some self-righteous UN prick called us "stingy", apparently because we don't give enough money to his organization or something. Meanwhile, some other idiots are calling Bush uncaring and callous for not cutting his Christmas vacation short. There are a few more things to worry about than scoring some cheap political points right now, asswipes. Like say actually getting some medical people and food and supplies and housing and stuff in there as fast as we can. And help make sure crime and looting don't break out, and that food and such are fairly distributed. This would be an excellent chance for nations like France and Spain to show some leadership and organize some solutions. One thing Spain might do is send a few batallions of paramilitary Guardia Civil police to help keep order, perhaps along with some of the Spanish army guys who were in Iraq and did very well there.

Just for your enjoyment, here are a couple more of those little pieces from La Vanguardia on religion in the United States. One of them is almost ironic now in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami; it was published on December 23. Here it is.

According to American fundamentalism catastrophes are a divine warning, an opportunity provided by Providence so that human beings will change their lives. The Civil War was interpreted by this sector as a punishment because the Constitution omitted the name of God, and the depression of 1929 because America adored the false idol of science. It was like that even until September 11, which was blamed on the relaxation of conventions and the religious apathy of the citizens. This point of view contrasts with that of the European reaction to the Madrid attentats, where there was no providentialist background noise when causes and responsibilities were being discussed. One of the characters that has supported Bush since his first term is Tim Le Haye (sic), who is considered the most influential evangelical voice and who is the author of best-sellers in a genre that has been called "biblical fiction". The messages from God, the prophecies, and the final battle between good and evil at Armageddon, Israel, are his princlpal themes.

Where do I start? First, it is true that some people considered the Civil War divine punishment. It was, however, punishment for having committed the sin of slavery. It is also true that somewhat fewer people considered the Depression divine punishment, for the sin of worshiping the false idol of money. It is also true that the great majority of Americans frankly don't worry too much about divine punishment. A couple of loudmouths, like Falwell and Robertson, did say some stupid shit after 9-11, and the entire country as one called them idiots. Americans do not believe that September 11 was a punishment from God, except for the eight weirdos holed up at a ranch in Idaho muttering about black helicopters and The Turner Diaries. And, of course, there must be some sinister connection between Bush and paperback novelists like Tim LaHaye, whose books are nearly as popular in America as The Da Vinci Code and The Dante Club are in Europe.

Here's another one.

To the American fundamentalists, Bush is a direct messanger from God. An important officer in the Pentagon, general William G. Jerry, an evangelical who has caused more than one controversy by interpreting the antiterrorist war as a religious war, said in 2003 that "Bush is in the White House because God put him there." Those who know Bush talk about his "supernatural certainty" in his determinations and in the confidence he shows about receiving inspiration directly from God. Conscious of that, Kerry repeated in the first presidential debate that "you can be sure you're right but be wrong." A few months ago, in a private meeting with Amish farmers in Pennsylvania, they say Bush said the following: "I am sure that God speaks through me." This Messianic character that is attributed to a leader of a nation--which is more reminiscent of the Messiah king of the Jews than the Messiah of the "good news" of the Gospel--is viewed with suspicion in Europe.

Let me make something clear. When a mainstream daily newspaper is saying that Americans think Bush is a messenger from God, or that Bush thinks God is speaking through him, there is something very weird going on over here in Europe. No wonder they're so crazy. They're completely paranoid about us. They suspect anything that Americans do. I swear if Bush went to a Baptist church one weekend they'd accuse him of preparing for Armageddon.

And as for that last anti-Semitic crack, let me point out that, uh, Europe is the continent that originated and produced Messianic leaders in the 20th century--or don't we remember Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini, Trotsky, la Pasionaria, José Antonio, and even Franco? Now let's compare them to Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. Who would you vote for?

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