The world has definitely gone mad; it is undergoing a process of involution that is taking us down unknown paths, full of mental poverty and contempt for history. Uneducated and intolerant people have taken over the masses, driven at will by the media, to tear down sculptures and statues as they see fit, under the excuse that the people they represent were one or the other and therefore believe they are legitimised to tear them down, to try to erase history and rewrite it in their own way, without a minimum of academic seriousness on sight.
News of the demolition of the busts of Columbus, Isabella the Catholic, Cortés, Pizarro, Juan de Oñate and many others in the Americas (also encouraged in the homeland of these illustrious figures) leaves me speechless, even of Fray Junípero Serra!, a fierce defender of the Indians, and that of Don Miguel de Cervantes, the greatest writer of all time, who was imprisoned in Algiers and never set foot in America. Iconoclasm at its peak to demolish, without showing any respect, the pillars of yesterday.
Thus, without knowing who they were or what they did, ignorant mobs besmirch these distinguished figures without asking why dragged along by the most absolute intolerance. And accusing them of racism, homophobia and genocide, they assault their sculptures, paint them, vandalise them or demolish them, with the impunity that characterises them. And with the cowardly and revisionist approval of the mayors or local leaders, who urge them to remove them without the slightest hint of shame and with plenty of presentism. What is going on? At this rate, we will become hopelessly extinct.
Anglo-Saxon cynicism knows no bounds. A society that has been characterised by pure and simple segregation, that has cornered the indigenous people in reservations after taking their lands, that has exterminated native populations in North America with the vilest methods, that has deceived and massacred thousands of people and that has promoted slavery to unsuspected limits, allows itself to give lessons to Spain, accusing it of being genocidal and homophobic. These are details of a society that has lost the most basic sustenance, dignity and memory. And from Spain, there is no complaint about it.
For many people to know or remember, the US owes Spain a great, great deal, starting with the fact that Spain helped it with supplies, provisions, men and money in the war for independence from the British. This was followed by pressure and false moves to take over Spanish territories on that vast continent. Napoleon gave away Louisiana in a devious manner, Florida was bought but not paid to Fernando VII, the war in Cuba and the Philippines, with the subsequent annihilation of the population in the latter. It goes on and on, always leaving its mark.
Revisiting 15th and 16th-century history with 21st-century eyes? Shall we erase Aristotle, Plato, Benjamin Franklin, Moctezuma or George Washington from the map? They too had slaves. But what is this? Where are we going? This revisionism of the past is reaching absurd levels. But the worst thing is that American leaders and politicians, moved by this revisionist movement, are playing the game and voting to eliminate any bust or memory of that Spanish past. Hypocrisy at its best.
Let’s look at some curious facts. Didn’t the 7th Cavalry exterminate in cold blood whole populations of Indians (men, women and children) in North America and society knows it as a heroic regiment? Aren’t there sculptures of General Custer, the well-known American general and Indian killer? Weren’t the heads represented on Mount Rushmore slaveholders? Are there no statues of Simon Bolivar, even in Spain, despite the genocides he perpetrated against his Spanish brothers, including among his killings even old men and women for the simple fact of having been born on the other side of the Atlantic? Does Ernesto “Che” Guevara not have sculptures on our soil, even though he was someone who murdered people without trial and was an admitted homophobe who boasted about it? What is really happening? Where are we going?
At this point of madness, in this absolute chaos, I ask myself: Do we demolish all the Roman and Greek constructions because they used slaves? Do we demolish the sculptures of Almanzor because they had legions of slaves? Do we demolish the pyramids because they were built by slaves? Do we review the whole of history and judge it with the eyes of today? It is absolute chaos, which makes no sense.
And to make matters worse, we see thousands of Spaniards, from Spain, encouraging this atrocity, this hispanophobic movement, typical of the Anglo-Saxons, who raise the anti-Spanish black legend ad nauseam. The Spanish have always been evil, the devil, the monster to be destroyed… One thing is clear: “he who does not know his history is condemned to repeat it”.
The great Spanish heritage
As Elvira Roca Barea says: “For whom were cities built in America if, according to the Archivo de Indias, 250,000 Spaniards travelled to the New World in two centuries? If they didn’t count on the Indians, what was the point of so many cities? But there is more: do you know that Isabel, the Catholic Queen, laid the foundations of Human Rights with her Laws of the Indies or Laws of Burgos in favour of the Indians, which were approved in 1512, with Fernando as regent? Do you know that these laws were renewed with Carlos I in 1542? Do you know that the legal validity of marriages between Indians and Spaniards was recognised in the middle of the 16th century? Did you know that the Spaniards had an extension of Spain in America? Did you know that miscegenation took place from the very beginning? Did you know that the Hispanic Monarchy founded numerous cities, universities and hospitals? Did you know that thanks to the printing press, the language of the native tribes was preserved? And so on. Ignorance is the basis of barbarism, of unreason. And I refer to the evidence.
Hispanophobia is still latent several centuries later. They will try to erase sculptures, break the stone that they left as foundations and break the iron that our ancestors forged, but History is what it is, with its lights and shadows, regardless of who it may concern. And they will never be able to cover up these facts: that Columbus opened the horizon of the known world; that the coast of California was discovered by a Spaniard on 20 September 1545; that Juan de Oñate was the first to explore the great American plains; that interracial marriage was legally approved in 1514 (in the USA it was approved in 1967); that the USA would not exist today if Spain had not existed 400 years ago and, last but not least, that the American army carried out genocide (like so many others) when it discovered gold in 1848 and took California from Mexico.
That said, the history of Spain is what it is and they will not be able to erase it no matter how hard they try. And as they say, whoever can, will match it.