The pro-war left had a more sophisticated take, with The New York Times’s Tom Friedman saying he understood “that many Spanish voters felt lied to by their rightist government over who was responsible for the Madrid bombings, and therefore voted it out of office.” Nonetheless, Friedman said, for the new Zapatero government to follow through on its wildly popular commitment to withdraw from Iraq — a commitment made long before the bombings — would be a mistake. Spain “should now follow that up by vowing to keep their troops in Iraq — to make clear that in cleaning up their own democracy, they do not want to subvert the Iraqis’ attempt to build one of their own. Otherwise, the Spanish vote will not be remembered as an act of cleansing, but of appeasement.”
Spain declined to take Friedman’s advice, and having returned last weekend from a weeklong visit there I can report that the consequences of choosing appeasement have been dire indeed. Superficially, Spanish democracy is still intact and Zapatero’s government in Madrid runs the country. Real power, however, is now in the hands of the radical mullahs whose will the government dares not oppose. The city of Toledo, like most of Spain, fell under the rule of Muslim “Moors” in the eighth century who referred to their Spanish possessions as al-Andalus. Toledo was one of the earliest cities brought back under Christian control (by Alfonso VI of Castille in 1085) during the centuries of warfare known as la reconquista. The modern city features a large traffic circle just outside the medieval town walls known as the glorieta de la reconquista in honor of this distinction. But today in a new ironic twist, it is from that very plaza where the Mullahs issue their fatwas that the craven Spanish government, having chosen the path of appeasement, invariably follows. Toledo’s women, who only in the recent past enjoyed basic legal equality with men albeit in the context of a culture that was highly traditionalistic by American standards, now fear to walk the streets unveiled. Spain’s historic wine industry groans under the crushing yoke of the Islamists’ informal power, the riojas of the past but a fading memory. The Mezquita Cristo de la Luz, for centuries a church, is once again a mosque.
Two years on, the satire still holds up.
Photo by me available under a Creative Commons license