If higher powers are helping to lift Spain out of its economic crisis, one political party wants to know exactly who they are and what they’re doing.
Amaiur, a leftwing party from the Basque country, has put a series of questions to the governing People’s party after the interior minister, Jorge Fernández Diaz, said recently he was certain that Saint Teresa was “making important intercessions” for Spain “during these tough times”.
In a letter to the government on Tuesday, Jon Iñarritu García of Amaiur asked for clarification about what help the government was getting from one of Spain’s most popular holy figures.
The article then quoted the politician as asking:
“In what ways does the minister of the interior think Saint Teresa of Avila is interceding on behalf of Spain?” he asked. “Does the government believe there are other divine and supernatural interventions affecting the current state of Spain? If so, who are they?”
“What role has the Virgin of El Rocío played in helping Spain exit the crisis?” he asked.
The article transitions with an acknowledgment that this is nonsense, but then notes that this nonsense is a weapon in the fight against reactionary clericalism. This is followed by an over the top comment equating opposition to abortion with fascism.
The letter took on a more serious tone in asking about the separation of church and state in Spain. “Does the government believe they are respecting the secular nature of the state? Does the government plan to push for a religious state?”
The increasingly blurry line between church and state in Spain has been in the headlines recently as the government moves forward with its proposal to roll back women’s access to abortion.
In an article on Diaz’s comments, El País columnist Román Orozco wrote: “If I closed my eyes … I would think I was listening to some old shirt of the Falange.” Saint Teresa was a favourite of General Franco, who kept her hand by his bed until his death.
As journalism this is garbage. It leads one to ask what the Guardian has against St Theresa? There is no pretense of balance or factual reporting here. The author takes what he acknowledges to be an absurdity and uses it to slam those who do not share his ideological views. It is simply an exercise in hyperbole that ignores facts or context.
In his 1946 essay, “Why I Write”, George Orwell stated, “every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism.”
The totalitarianism we face today in the West comes not from Stalinism or Fascism. It arises in the the cant, hypocrisy and moral dishonesty of our intellectual and philosophical worlds. It is in challenging the orthodoxies of left and right, that one can find the best Guardian reporting. But the Guardian at times represents the ugliest impulses of our intellectual lives.
Does this article deserve condemnation? It is riddled with errors, condescending towards it subject, and is entirely predictable. And, it is malicious.
That unfashionable poet, Edna St Vincent Millay, wrote in her “Dirge Without Music”:
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
A journalist who takes his craft seriously, who is not resigned to the world around him, who writes with moral purpose (but without moralizing) prepares stories that are a joy to read. This article is not one of them.
And why do we write? To speak out against the totalitarianism of small minds and corrupt reporting.
First published in GetReligion.