Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Off the record

The bankers and politicians who have squandered have spoiled Spain’s image, not those who reveal corruption

I often feel we are living in a dangerous time of social lethargy. Supposedly the internet society means the opposite. The forums and so forth chatter on about uncovering injustices and boycotting their perpetrators, and so on. But I fail to see what real consequences it ever produces, except to American politicians unfaithful to their wives, and Germans who have plagiarized their doctoral theses. Those who govern are already accustomed to the chatter on the internet in which justifiable grievances are indistinguishable from slanders, intolerable abuses from frivolous complaints.

In fact the capacity for influence of the powerful (financiers, multinationals, bankers) has only grown, and with it their ability to disorient the population. More and more, they succeed in having bad practices pass for good. From evicting a family for failing to pay the rent to working conditions that begin to look like those in the days of Dickens, two steps from slavery.

One of the unhealthiest ideas they are putting over on us is the old one of blaming injustices and crimes on those who denounce them, a thing typical of dictatorships, which brook no criticism. But this happens in apparent democracies, old and new. The US authorities, instead of unleashing their fury on the pilots who machine-gunned civilians needlessly, unleash it on Private Manning, whose famous leaks brought these cold-blooded murders to light. Instead of upbraiding the NSA for its indiscriminate espionage, they organize persecution of Snowden, who revealed its existence, if this can be said to be a revelation. The usual song in these cases is that the revelations "damaged the image of the country," when not long ago nobody would have doubted that what damaged the image were the gratuitous, semi-festive murders and the massive espionage.

The watchword is not "keep this from being done," but "keep this from being told"

In Spain, the same rule manifestly applies. Those who publish photos of Spanish people rummaging for food in garbage cans, or photos of grandiloquent public buildings sitting half empty, or of airports where not a single plane has ever landed, are said to be "damaging Brand Spain." Politicians never react in anger -- as they ought to -- against those who have pocketed public money, or against those who have squandered it on personal megalomania, wasting it on mammoth projects, or against Fabra and Camps, who have had the insolence to inaugurate at great expense "their" airport at Castellón.

Those who damage the image of Spain are the bankers who have led us into a situation of ruin; the politicians who have pilfered public money, while being entirely good for nothing; the employers' association, which keeps demanding more and more Dickensian working conditions and more unemployment; the property developers and mayors who have vandalized our cities and coasts, and will go on doing so until not a square meter of ground is left free of their monstrosities.

It is all these people who have been dragging the image of Spain through the mud, together with the countless grafters, never seriously punished, whose names appear in the international press every day. No fury ever falls upon them; on the contrary, the present government pours it on those who denounce their swindles and environmental crimes. The watchword is not "keep this from being done," but "keep this from being told," and the worst of it is that it is contagious. Stop for a moment and think that in the case of Nazi atrocities if anger had been aimed not against them, but against those who revealed their massacres with the aim of seeing them punished. The person who rails against the divulger of crimes, and covers up the criminals and swindlers, the squanderers and thieves, in reality is one who approves and abets these crimes, and proposes that injustices and abuses should go on taking place.

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