Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spanish Civil War: A Lesson for the US Today

In the aftermath of the news about the fundamentalist Christian militia leaders who were arrested this week in Michigan, it is especially fitting that tomorrow I will be discussing with my students the lessons of the Spanish Civil War.

In 1936, Spanish society was deeply divided ideologically, culturally, and politically. These divisions ran pretty much along the same lines at the ideological split in the US today. Religious fanatics who did not want to accept the demands of the changing world opposed women's rights, the separation of Church and State, social programs aimed at alleviating the lot of the dispossessed members of society, gay rights, secular education, and parliamentary democracy.

Spanish religious fanatics were profoundly racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic. They could not accept the democratically elected Republican government of their country and organized a military uprising to remove the legitimately elected leaders from power. This deep ideological division had been growing in Spain for a very long time, until the breach became irreparable and erupted in a bloody Civil War.

Doesn't all of this sound eerily familiar to you? It does to me. Unless we want to see a fascist dictatorship firmly established in this country, we need to look closely and attentively at the lessons of the Spanish Civil War. This dangerous trend of not taking the growing numbers of American fascists seriously can lead us all to a very dark place. We keep fearing fundamentalist terrorists from overseas and often forget about our homegrown variety of religious extremism that is just as dangerous.


Anonymous said...

And this is why the Spanish Civil War is such a popular topic in the academia nowadays.


Anonymous said...

This analysis is terrible. You are greatly simplifying a complex historical event to fit to your own current political quarrels.

Clarissa said...

Empty criticism is cheap. Try offering your own analysis. If, of course, you are capable of it.

Do people not realize that comments like "Oh, this is just stupid" make them sound like idiots?

Patrick said...

How would the rise of German Nazism in Europe concurrently affected the internal strife in Spain? Can that be an important difference, a mitigating factor for us to consider in North America today?