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dimarts, 12 de juliol de 2016

El mito de un paraíso llamado Al Andalus

By any objective standards, then, and in spite of its undeniable artistic, literary, and scientific accomplishments, and of modern wishful “let-us-all-get-along” thinking that tries to gloss over evidence to the contrary, Islamic Spain was not a model of multicultural harmony. Andalusia was beset by religious, political, and racial conflicts controlled in the best of times only by the application of tyrannical force. Its achievements are inseparable from its turmoil.

How then can one explain the persistence of the belief that Andalusia was a land of peaceful coexistence? The historian Richard Fletcher has attempted one possible explanation: “[In] the cultural conditions that prevail in the West today the past has to be marketed, and to be successfully marketed it has to be attractively packaged. Medieval Spain in a state of nature lacks wide appeal. Self-indulgent fantasies of wonders for sharpening up its image. But Moorish Spain was not a tolerant and enlightened society even in its most cultivated epoch.”34

Another explanation could be what one might call Spanish self-hatred, the obverse of what once was Spanish self-aggrandizement. Such a view allies itself effortlessly with many non-Spaniards’ hatred of CatholicSpain, in an attitude that sooner or later brings up Las Casas’ condemnation of the Spanish conquest of the Americas—while ignoring the question of why there was not an English, Dutch, or French Las Casas to criticize the English, the French, and the Dutch. As if these nations carried out conquests that left undisturbed the native populations of their colonial lands.

A more convincing explanation may be that extolling al-Andalus offers the double advantage of surreptitiously favoring multiculturalism and deprecating Christianity, which is one of the foundations of Western civilization. This mechanism is not unlike that in the mind of those who dislike Western culture intensely, but who with the fall of Communism find themselves without any clear alternative and so grab Islam as a castaway grabs anything that floats. So anyone who dislikes Western culture or Christianity—for any reason, be it religious, political, or cultural—goes on happily pointing out, regardless of the facts, how bad Catholic Spain was when compared to the Muslim paradise. | Darío Fernández-Morera
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