Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spain is taking the Islamist terrorist attacks yesterday in Casablanca very seriously. Moroccan police decided to hunt down three suspected terrorists. Two of them blew themselves up; one killed a policeman, jumping on his back from a low rooftop and blowing them both up. Another terrorist was shot to death by police. A fourth terrorist then blew himself up in the middle of a street, killing at least five and wounding at least fifteen people. The police have evacuated an entire neighborhood of the city. Moroccan police have arrested hundreds of people in anti-terrorist roundups during the last month; they claim to have gotten all twelve of the cell they started investigating a month ago, along with seven "sleeper" suicide bombers. Everyone involved is suspected of connections with Al Qaida.

Meanwhile, today an explosion in Algiers killed at least twenty people; it was apparently an assassination attempt on the prime minister. The three countries of the Maghreb, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, are going to be important fronts in the war on Islamism.

Rafael Ramos, in his dispatch from London for La Vanguardia, makes the following claims: 1) "The British and Italian governments have learned...that their military presence in countries where they are not welcome, against the wishes of their public opinion, is never going to provide them with propaganda victories." Raffy, propaganda victories are not the point here, and foreign military presence is not welcome anywhere but is often necessary--for example, in Kosovo right now, or in South Korea, or in Iraq and Afghanistan. 2) "All governments negotiate with terrorists no matter how much they deny it." Sure, we have to negotiate sometimes with terrorists like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO, because left-wingers like you supported them back when they could still have been stopped. But do all governments swap hostages with terrorists? I doubt it. 3) Ramos is still claiming that the Americans turned over an Iranian agent they were holding in exchange for the fifteen British hostages. I have seen nothing of the sort anywhere else in the Spanish press. 4) "People are realizing that the Karzai government is the fruit of a compromise with the Taliban, and Western powers have strategic interests in Russia's back yard." Hoo boy. The Afghan government is supported by the Taliban? And that old geopolitical claim that the West is trying to surround Russia. Note that Ramos considers Russian intervention appropriate in Central Asia ("Russia's back yard"), while American intervention in the Caribbean is not appropriate.

This is hilarious. Catalan TV (€13 billion in debt) habitually runs extreme anti-American documentaries which all share the same faults:

a) they have a pre-set point of view, and report only on items that back their thesis; b) they take a small part of the whole (racist extremists in Idaho, snake-handlers in Tennessee, Mormon polygamists in rural Utah) and then generalize it to the entire society; c) they interview leftist sociologists and the like, people whose views are nowhere near the mainstream even in academia, and accept the opinion of these alleged experts as the truth; d) they interview disgruntled individuals who are pissed off at society, without interviewing the great non-pissed-off majority; e) they fail to interview any historians, writers, academic figures, or political officeholders who disagree with the alleged experts; f) they take minor issues and blow them up completely out of proportion to their real importance; g) they depend on shocking or very unusual images which do not reflect the experience of ordinary people in ordinary situations.

So Tele Madrid just did a hatchet job on Catalonia.

They ran a documentary saying that Spanish speakers are discriminated against in Catalonia. And they used all the same tricks that constantly show up in anti-American documentaries.

The Catalan media, led by La Vanguardia, is howling like a hit dog. La Vangua calls the Tele Madrid documentary "a very harsh diatribe" in its subhead.

The documentary says that Spanish speakers in Catalonia "are threatened," have "no freedom," and "must leave Catalonia if their rights are to be respected." Spanish-speaking children "are discriminated against" at school; the documentary focuses on two families who cannot enroll their children in Spanish-speaking schools. (La Vangua denounces the use of hidden cameras, which they curiously never held against Michael Moore.) Shopowners who put up signs in Spanish are "persecuted"; Spanish-speakers must seek justice at courts that speak only Catalan.

And they got loudmouth and rather stupid TV3 personalities Joel Joan and Miquel Calzada to shoot themselves in the foot. Joan said, "Catalonia is a people who are inside a union (Spain) but without freedom. We must decide whether we are Spanish or not." Calzada said, "Why are there people who say 'don't speak Catalan to me'? I feel bad, but please get out. With no regrets."

Finally, they got local disgruntled folks Albert Boadella ("my work is totally boycotted") and Arcadi Espada ("I was attacked by a violent gang while I was giving a speech, something that has been fairly common lately in Catalonia") to spout off against the status quo.

La Vanguardia openly accuses Tele Madrid, which belongs to the PP-controlled Madrid autonomous regional government, of propagandizing in favor of the PP with the goal of bringing out the vote in the May municipal elections. I do not recall La Vangua ever saying anything critical of the way the CiU government used to abuse, and the PSC government now abuse, their control over TV3.

Interestingly, TV3 hasn't said anything about the documentary.

Here's the link to the video of the whole thing.

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