Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Lost in translation

I like to believe that the primary skill I bring to this page is an acute sense of logic. That's a quality that seems to be lacking in the frenzy around Spain's recent election.

I've been hearing three versions of events:

The first and logically worst comes from people who objected to the invasion of Iraq last year: the citizens hated the invasion of Iraq, and were happy for the opportunity to throw the bums out. That argument ignores the pre-election poll data which suggests Zapatero's Socialist Party would have lost the election just a few days before. A few acknowledge the poll data but say the bombings reminded the voters. That seems too flippant to me, when we're talking about the sudden and violent deaths of over two hundred of their countrymen and women. Should something like that happen in Canada, I can't imagine any but the coldest hearts trying to exploit the event for an "I told you so". I would rather hear this group argue that the oft-quoted poll wasn't all that hot to begin with - that would be somewhat more convincing.

The second version, the one that has Spain's voters offering terms of surrender to Osama, is coming from the pro-war crowd. It has the advantage of a sort of logic, although it's the shallow logic of talk radio. It has clear cause-and-effect - Spain was about to elect the pro-war, pro-Bush party for another term, but then the bombs went off and the voters changed their minds. Therefore, Spainards are a bunch of fish-eating surrender monkeys who refused to stand up to terror, and all of us will pay for that. I don't think it helped that some news organizations had quoted Zapatero as saying the "terror war", as opposed to the Iraq war, was a disaster.

(As an aside, I can't find those quotes online now, but I heard them, more than once, from more than one source. It's as if a bad translation got around for a while, but has since been silently corrected, after the former quote had already colonized the brains of the English-speaking world.)

But the third theory argues that wasn't the bombings that made the Spanish voters change their minds, it was Aznar's ham-fisted attempt to manipulate the reaction to the attacks into political gain that earned his party its electoral defeat. I've already picked out the third argument as the argument that seems to have the most basis in reality. I linked on Monday to James Bow, the first source of this argument I found - here I'll point you to an e-mail that was sent to Tom Tomorrow. I don't think this argument needs to be explained further than that message - be sure to follow the link and read it, if you aren't convinced.

When we're dealing with terrorism, when we're dealing with extremism, we have to be smart, and thoughtful, and reflective - exactly the opposite of the blood-boiling reactionary types we're attempting to resist. If we just react from our assumptions and ideologies, we can't learn, can't adapt, and can be pushed around by the mad bombers into whatever it is they want.

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