Friday, July 07, 2006


One of the things I occasionally marvel at is how gracefully my in-laws duck all questions of religion and politics, given the striking and potentially painful differences in perspective caused by Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy in the late 1970s and the drastically reduced role of the Catholic church. My parents-in-law are devout Catholics and politically firmly conservative; their four children belong to the generation that rejected Franco and celebrated his death. My oldest brother-in-law has stories of being in college when armed policemen came into the classroom to take his too-liberal professors away (and that particular image comes into my head more and more often these days; who knew that fascist Spain would end up being a more genuinely liberal democracy than the U.S.?).

Despite these differences, though, everyone's remarkably good about respecting everyone else's views in the household, and no one says anything to offend. Yesterday on the afternoon news there was a report of how the European parliament has issued an official condemnation of Franco and his government, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish civil war. Although we were all in the room, the only commentary came in the form of faint snorts of derision from all: ours signifying exasperation that it came seventy years too late ("breaking news! fascism was bad!"), and the parents' at the thought that the European parliament would presume from afar to condemn the system they grew up with, which gave them nothing but stability and prosperity.

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