Today’s giants cannot be attacked by copying how Don Quixote attacked the windmills, or the way today’s iconoclasts have vandalized his statue, but they can be defeated at the polls
To what point of inflating the importance of the minuscule have we come that we are so immune to the hate that emanates from Donald Trump in his every gesture, utterance, or action, that we need Twitter to warn us that some of his tweets are acts of hatred and/or glorification of violence. Twitter has finally realized this! The algorithm affirmed what we already knew, and what we are surprised by is that the spotlight is broken. Like beginning drivers who need constant signage on the highway to warn us which roads lead us in the wrong direction, or what is the speed limit, it would seem that we need warnings to accompany each packet of hate that is fed to us by the leaders we have chosen precisely because their hate aligns with ours. And, while we’re at it, public media also assure us that today we require signs to help us identify films that contain racism. “I’m shocked, shocked! To find that gambling is going on in here,” says Renault in “Casablanca.” “I’m shocked to find that hate is going on in here!” says the web, where the world war of hate has been occurring.
Do you remember the two diamonds used on TV to warn us that what was about to appear was an adult film? We were young when we learned what those diamonds meant, but now we know that they did nothing to save us from life’s perversion. The infantilization of society cannot be the medicine against today’s invasion of hate, irrationality and the exhibitionism of ignorance, which is all too real. So, what do we do?
When a president has proposed injecting UV rays and bleach into the body in order to kill the coronavirus, how can you explain to those who attack statues of Miguel de Cervantes that the writer never sold slaves in the Americas, or that Fr. Junipero Serra may not have taken into account the LGBTI slogans that today guide us? Even more, how do we explain that these are not the enemies that need to be fought?
Cervantes’ character, Don Quixote, thought he was attacking powerful giants when he crashed against the windmills, getting beat up in the process. His largest contribution to his era’s spirit of conquest and repression may have been “giving” Cheapy Island (la ínsula Barataria), to Sancho Panza to govern (the townspeople went along with Don Quixote’s craziness at his expense). For his part, Sancho preferred to return to his soup, greasy food and manchego wine rather than being in charge of anything. Intelligent.
But we haven’t learned much. Neither Cervantes nor Junipero are the enemies of equality. And Don Quixote’s windmills were not the enemies of justice. Today’s giants, unlike Don Quixote’s, are visible. And they need not be torn down because they can be defeated. By voting. Today’s giants are Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, the Spanish political party Vox along with its intolerance, Boris Johnson and his lies about the European Union and any other nation’s facsimile of these figures.
Infantilizing society is not the remedy, I was saying, but rather an adult construction of society, based on education, and including citizens’ well-being. These should be our focus.