To cotton on
Dear friends who live in Madrid, I really hope you don't hurt yourselves, and I am happy to see you cottoning on to what is happening.
The spectre of a certain overbearing and authoritarian politics, which puts you between the sword of living humiliation and injustice and the wall of your ideas and diverse identity, is beginning to show its tentacles to you too. The intolerant, the reactionary, those who are willing to gut democracy before accepting change or listening to dissent, are now challenging you too, and not only from the far right.
After years of simplifying to the point of absurdity the reasons for the growth of sovereignism in Catalonia, which obviously has been wrong in many, many things, it is now you who are being pushed to simplify and to choose, to put it bluntly, the Omaha Beach vantage point. Journalism that tries to pursue honesty and flee from self-deception does not start from a neutral point of view with the ultra-right, nor with flagrant injustice, nor with the dead in the Mediterranean, but has the obligation to shed light on certain realities.
Today, the election campaign in Madrid shows the power of some supporters of xenophobic, racist, violent, sexist, homogenizing ideas, of people willing to break the rules of the democratic game. This discourse of hatred of this one and homogeneous Spain has a wide support in certain state institutions that connect with an old soul.
Disguised as nouveau-riche, there is a Madrid that has become a black hole that absorbs with strength resources from the State and the rest of the territories with the excuse of the capital and without the rest of Spain seeming to care so far. Madrid is now a kind of federal district where business is done with the BOE, where few taxes are paid and where the right wing acts as a counterweight to the Moncloa. Where they lie about the number of deaths by covid and where part of the press is alienated in the ideological trenches or in the commanding heights of propaganda without asking questions. A Madrid that on May 4 could become even more radical and be in the hands of Ayuso and Monasterio, who would interpret the victory as a springboard to the highest institutions, from where the most reactionary vision of Spain can be applied.
The atmosphere of civil war in Madrid is worrying for anyone who does not participate in the idea of the worse the better, and aspires to place the progress of society as a whole in intellectual debate and the contrast of ideas.
The spectacle of Ms. Monasterio in the Telemadrid debate reached its peak on Friday in the debate of Àngels Barceló on SER, in what seems to be an extremist political propaganda campaign that has achieved its purpose, especially in the social networks. The art of manipulation and provocation was staged by belittling a death threat to undermine the credibility of a political opponent and to whitewash the violent. This once again revealed the low level of Monasterio and her followers, but also the success she has achieved by putting herself at the centre of the campaign, eclipsing the populist witticisms of the popular Ayuso and turning her into a mere rentier of the efforts of those who are her potential partners in government.
With the ultra-right at the centre of the debate, fascism is being inoculated in Spanish society, unless limits are placed on lies and hate speech. Obviously, also in Catalan society, where in Parliament there are several representatives of the same party who have a legislature ahead of them to try to become even more numerous by cultivating hatred.
The Spanish ultra-right has been detected and is strong, but what now? How can we fight it? My answer is that only with arguments and work. I don't think it is a good sign to use resources ad hoc, such as a new parliamentary election system to prevent them from having a senator, because victimhood favours them. Fascism can only be fought with arguments, without shying away from uncomfortable issues and leaving aside political correctness if it serves as an excuse to avoid issues that cannot be postponed.
And journalists? Well, to work without pretending to be surprised when the monster shows itself. Journalism has to get out of its comfort zone and understand that it has no friends in politics, but principles that serve to observe them all, whether they are pro-independence, pro-sovereignty, fascist, socialist, or far-right. If you want to do journalism you'll have to risk being left alone. The rest is shorthand or likes on networks.
Esther Vera is director of ARA.