Cultural Protectionist Fascism

You got to be kidding me!!! How ridiculous is it that someone is denied the right to citizenship because a country does not accept an individual’s right to have their own name? I just read this Reuters news release on how the Spanish government has rejected a Colombian woman’s citizenship application because her first name “Darling” is unacceptable. I could understand rejecting one’s application for a name change to a vulgar word or term. The Spanish law permits rejecting names that may cause a person to be “exposed to ridicule or do not clearly indicate gender.” But “Darling”? Come on, in Spain it is very common for males to have the name “Jesus” or for women to have the names of females saints but, after dropping the “María”, are of the masucline gender such as “Pilar”, “Rocío” or “Camino”. Women can also go by (as translated into English) “Immaculate Conception”, “Ascencion”, “Incarnation”, “Sea”, “Solitude”, “Suns”, or “Miracles”. How about the fact that “Angel” is a common male name? Come on!!!!!

This is pure cultural fascism, where certain names are accepted while others are rejected because they are foreign sounding and not common. There really isn’t much difference in the name “Darling” and “Hope” (the name of the President of the Community of Madrid). You don’t need to look around much in the US to see that the US government could never restrict people’s right to give their children names derived from their own cultural traditions or variations thereof, or simply as expressions of their own creativity — like it or not.

Darling wasn’t even asking for a name change, just this simple request that the name given to her at birth be respected by the Spanish authorities. What message does this send to any foreigner arriving on the shores of Spain? Where is ZP’s Alliance of Civilizations? Or is this as the Spaniards say, “moros en la costa”?

Ironically, I have just recently written a post in Spanish on how the radical Islamists are not the only ones who are dividing the world with their fanatic fundamentalism. This is a great example that proves my point that in the West we are doing the same thing but in a much more subtle way.

In any event, here is the Reuters news feed:

No Darling, Spain tells aspiring citizen

Fri Jan 19, 10:19 AM ET

A Colombian woman called Darling has been told she cannot become a Spanish citizen because her name is unacceptable.

Years of waiting to obtain Spanish citizenship for Darling Velez, 33, appeared to end with success a few months ago when her application was accepted, but she was shocked when the public registry rejected her name, El Mundo newspaper said on Friday.

Spanish law prohibits names which could expose a person to ridicule or do not clearly indicate gender. Without registering her name, Velez cannot become a citizen.

The registry office suggested Velez, who lives near Madrid, should choose a saint’s name. But she said she wanted to stay Darling.

“My name is part of my personality. If they force me to change it, I’ll change it to a Basque name and see what they say then,” she said.

Names in Spain’s minority Basque language were prohibited for many years during the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco but now are common.



Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

4 responses to “Cultural Protectionist Fascism

  1. iurgi

    The worst thing is that if this woman would be called “bitch” in Russian or Turkish, she would have had no problems at all, because the authority that rejected her application wouldn’t know its meaning.
    The only thing I don’t agree with, is the title. I don’t think it’s a matter of protectionism but of ignorance and stupidity. That law protects not the Spanish culture at any points. 🙂

  2. eric

    Another problem is that, most likely, the decision to approve or not approve a particular name is fully within the discretion of one, non-elected, functionary of the Registry. Some ignorant, fool (as you mention) decides which names are and are not acceptable.

    Essentially, though, what it says is that if you are Latin American have no right to define themselves freely outside of the Spanish tradtion. In the US, many African Americans have rejected traditional Anglo-Saxon and European names and spelling for their own. To reject those names is to reject people’s rights to define themselves.

    As you mentioned, because name with the same meaning or an offensive name in a language not comprehensible by one of the Registry’s funcionaries may very well be approved, the decision to reject the name “Darling” is completely arbitrary and capricious.

    I do recall another example of this when an American friend of mine was told by the authorities that he was not allowed to name his son a certain Anglo-Saxon name when the child was born in Spain to his Spanish wife. Of course this was probably 8 years ago.

  3. Sucia Mih

    Good thing I don´t live in Spain! Incidentally, the Germans have a similar policy.

  4. eric

    Yes, you’d have a lot of trouble in Spain. You´d have to change the spelling to sound like it was a Brazilian name “Xuxa” (pronounced Susha).

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