Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, November 08, 2004

Jose Maria Aznar: Politician, Editorialist

Or at least he's an editorialist for today. In case you need reminding, he's the Prime Minister of Spain who lost out to Zapatero after al-Qaeda managed to swing their election. When he writes, "The temptation of comfort and convenience is a powerful one," he should know.

The point I'm about to make is one I've made before, but it's worth repeating. Mr. Aznar is the main reason I don't make fun of Spain as much as I make fun of France. That's important because when we think of countries, we generally think of their governments instead of individuals. Iran, for example, is completely nuts, but it seems like there are a lot of rational, freedom-loving Iranians out there who aren't too fond of the government. Spain may have made a collossal mistake in caving to a terrorist bombing, but there are still Jose Maria Aznars there - Spaniards with spine, in spite of how the solid majority thinks (if I remember correctly, Zapatero got about 53% of the votes). And the same, it should go without saying, is true of France. Jacques Chirac may be a corrupt fool with ties to UN scandals and Iraqi arms deals, but that doesn't mean all Frenchmen are similarly corrupt or foolish.

Indeed, such sweeping generalities do us all a disservice, do they not? I'm not decrying the use of labels, because properly understood, they are very useful. That is, I'm happy with the label "conservative" because it helps people at least get their bearings on where I'm coming from, before learning that I'm not as conservative as some on certain issues.

So when I make fun of a nation, it's really just that - making fun.

Now consider two groups that take their generalities in deadly earnest - radical Islamicists and radical liberals. al-Qaeda justifies blowing up two towers in New York, not because the individuals deserved to die, but because Americans in general deserve to die. And that's not poking fun for a cheap laugh, it's mass murder. Ultra-liberals have been spinning this election as a triumph of gay-hating Christian zealots, without stopping to consider that a) just because you live in Kansas doesn't mean you are dumb, and b) telling the red states how stupid they are isn't likely to garner sympathy four years from now. It's not poking fun for a cheap laugh, it's political suicide. I guess I shouldn't complain about that.