Farewell hope

The crisis is no longer a distraction; the one remaning hope. Is Spain headed for a return to the Franco Era?

We had one slim hope, those of us who before the elections were not suffering from amnesia, and remembered how the PP always governs when it has a clear parliamentary majority. To wit: it rules in a cynical and authoritarian style, using its majority as a steamroller, always favoring the rich and our cave-dwelling Catholic Church, while hurting the lower and middle classes, the elderly, the ill and all those "guilty" of not being rich.

 Our one slim hope was the crisis, which might distract them, and in particular induce them to set aside their concerns about morality and religion. This has not been the case. They are devoting considerable efforts to drag us back into the Franco era; how much further they will go remains to be seen.

There is the public television channel network, TVE, which is once more at the service of the government; the "labor market reform" which leaves wage earners defenseless; the new, cruel abortion law promoted by Rajoy and Gallardón; the sustained appeal with the Constitutional Court against the gay marriage law; and the politicians prostrating themselves before a shady figure from Las Vegas, who offers investment to turn a Spanish city into a sort of Macao. His businesses in other parts of the world are under investigation; but in this country the Catholic political parties - the PP in Madrid and CiU in Barcelona - fought to roll out the red carpets for him to walk on.

And now - the Supreme Court having ruled that public subsidies must not go to Church-run schools that deny mixed education and admit only pupils of one sex (male or female) - the servile education minister, Wert, has said that the law will be changed so that these schools can go on receiving public money - that is, yours and mine. It is no coincidence that most of these schools are linked to Opus Dei, a sect that collaborated with Franco in the 1960s, and is highly regarded in the Vatican. These schools have a right to exist, clearly, but not - in a non-confessional state - to be subsidized with public money. These schools segregate boys and girls for exactly the same reasons as the Franco regime did, with the difference that the regime suppressed the very existence of mixed schools.

In spite of my relatively hoary age I was lucky enough to go to a mixed school, Estudio, at that time the only one in Madrid (together with the foreign schools, British, French and Italian) that escaped the jurisdiction of the dictatorship. Estudio had to cheat, however: when an inspector showed up, boys and girls had to run to separate rooms to show that, though the school admitted both, they were not in close physical proximity. The priest-ridden regime's intention was to prevent "temptation," as it is even now in the schools that continue this twisted practice. Those of us who had the luck to attend a mixed school learned to coexist naturally with the opposite sex; we learned that boys were not sex-crazed animals, or girls brainless sex objects. The boys saw that many girls were extremely intelligent; the girls saw that more than a few of the boys were good companions, who could be counted on not to stick their hand up your skirt the first chance they got.

You have to be very twisted and prudish (as the Church can still be, along with the most retrograde forms of Islam) to think it desirable that boys and girls hardly meet each other, that they be afraid and wary, that they lack the opportunity to "sin." Then, too, the separation of sexes has always fomented homosexual experiments after puberty, something that the Church condemns, despite having so many adult "experimenters" in its ranks. This separation showed its noxious character in the days of Franco, and shows it now in the Arab countries, where it continues. Whether or not to damage your children this way is the business of every family. But that all of us should pay for it is a different matter.

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