Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (aka, ZP), has been promoting an Alliance of Civilizations as the solution to the so-called Clash of Civilizations that he and some others believe to be the root of violent extremism (aka, radical Islamic fundamentalism). Just which “civilizations” he is talking about is anyone’s guess, considering that Islam, since I last checked, has never been a civilization. Like Christianity, Islam is a religion that exists and has existed across many different continents, cultures, and civilizations.
I wonder whether ZP has any similar proposals to solve the problems of Spain’s own domestic terrorism woes, with two separate bombing over the past two days. Should we believe that there is a Clash of Spanish Civilizations and a need for an Alliance? Or should we conclude, like so many people do in the Spain and the West about Islam, that there is something inherently backward about the Spanish people that we should fear all things Spanish and even Catholics (as Catholicism is protected by the Spanish Constitution)? Should we panic if we see someone on our plane wearing a t-shirt with Spanish written on it or even speaking the language? Should we put wiretap on churches, private religious schools, and investigate non-profit Catholic foundations? Yes, I know that these ETA terrorists are just a tiny radicalized minority from one small region, but similar facts have not stopped ZP from considering extremism in other regions of the world to be rooted in culture and conflicting civilizations.
Even the perennial loser, opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, has had a thing or two to say about the ill effects of religious extremism on civilizations. Last year Rajoy proposed to protect women’s rights by regulating the use of the veil or headscarf in public places. This is particularly a problem in my Madrileño barrio of Chamberí, except that the great majority of the women you see in the streets with their heads covered are nuns who wear their full traditional religious attire when teaching in the semi-public local Catholic school. Personally, I think we should stop talking about the problem and just shut the convent down. Either that or U.S. air strikes, preferably by drones to limit military casualties.