Monday, November 26, 2007

Rebels Without A Cause

Now that the streets of Madrid are back in the hands of their rightful owners, some of the world's most reckless drivers, it is time to reflect on the latest outing for the civic rebellion. First the numbers; Saturday's demonstration has produced the usual farcical estimate from the Comunidad de Madrid, 550,000 people took to the streets according to their figure. Of course they never reveal the method used to arrive at such figures. There are those who stick to a rule of thumb based on simply dividing this estimate by 10 to get closer to the true figure, but over at the Manifestómetro they still insist on using more rigorous methods. No other estimate puts the total attendance at greater than 80,000 and it is clear that the numbers mobilised by the AVT are continuing to decline - it wasn't even raining this time, so they'll have to look for other excuses.

They would have had to have been quick to count me amongst those attending, ever since Spanish television started showing live Premier League football my Saturday afternoons suddenly seem more crowded than used to be the case. I popped out for a brief look, and caught the tail end of the march; just in time to see the fascist group bringing up the rear. Frankly these events are now so stage managed that they have lost much of their interest. Anyway, by spending more time at home I was able to enjoy the full glory of TeleMadrid's manipulative and propagandistic coverage of the event. If you ever wonder why this channel endlessly repeats the same old movies every few months, then wonder no more. They spend "their" budget on lavish blanket coverage of anti government demonstrations, even allowing for the known bias of the channel there is no longer even the most token attempt at balancing the opinions expressed.

The speeches at the end provided a stark illustration of the extent to which voluntary amnesia has become popular amongst the angry right. They skip directly from the halcyon days of the "spirit of Ermua" when a resolute government stood firm against the terrorist threat, to the present where a cowardly administration is down on its knees and hands over the country to ETA. What's the bit they miss out completely? Nothing important really, just that period when their own cherished government sat down and negotiated with ETA too. This episode has now been completely removed from history; it is as if it never happened. Equally the president of the AVT, Jose Francisco Alcaraz is treated as a martyr to freedom of expression because someone is taking him to court for insults, nothing more than a tiny taste of what he has so freely attempted to do to anyone who dares criticise him.

Here's someone who knows how to talk to terrorists

I did think this might be the last such outing before the election, especially as the Partido Popular has gently distanced itself. However, thinking a bit further I suspect we will see more mobilisations. Having been robbed of a negotiating process to use as the pretext we will instead get the continuing presence of radical Basque nationalist parties in the elections as an excuse to take to the streets. Meanwhile, this continues to be the legislature with easily the lowest number of terrorist victims since democracy returned to Spain, and according to the polls terrorism has dropped down the list of public concerns. May it continue to be that way.

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