Musing about Brexit lessons in the literal birthplace of the Spanish Inquisition

As the repercussions from the momentous Brexit vote play out, I find myself in the charming and more than 1,000-year-old  hillside village of Sos del Rey Catolico in northeast Spain. Ferdinand II of Aragon, who with his wife Queen Isabella I, launched Cristobal Colon on his voyage to the New World -- and the start of the destruction of the indigenous tribes of the Americas -- was born here.

The royal couple also threw the Jews out of Spain and can lay claim to the Spanish Inquisition. Pretty accomplished, weren't they?

A day earlier I was in Madrid. When I arrived, a large banner hung from Madrid's City Hall, proclaiming in English, "Refugees Welcome." The following day, Spain held parliamentary elections in which gains by the conservative establishment made for banner headlines.

And the day after that, the "Refugees Welcome" banner was gone.

Was it a coincidence? A political decision? For all I know the banner lacked official approval in the first place.

But between the banner and my stay in Sos del Rey Catolico -- which, of course has its ancient and now Judenrein Jewish quarter that persists as a tourist site -- it all feels hopelessly tribal.

I've written here before that journalists need to understand that globalization has been and is about far more than cheaper products. That its about people -- people moved by dreams and a desire, perhaps "need" is a better word -- to be the consumers of those products and no longer only the producers. If they were lucky enough to have a job, that is.

Brexit, it seems, was for many of its supporters, about "those people."

The Abrahamic religions, in sentiment if not in deed, offer a variety of teachings designed to help us live alongside our fellow humans.

Show compassion for the stranger amongst us. We are all of the same God. All are free to worship as they desire free of compulsion.

How did it all turn to bubbameise  (a Yiddish expression colloquially translated as B.S.)?

Humanity, it seems to me on this sunny but yet dark day, clearly seems not up to the task of living side by side.

GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly wrote, just the other day, but in a different context, about the journalistic impossibility of reporting on the status of the soul of another. So we attempt to report on factual consequences rather than on the deepest of motivations.

Another context? Hold on. He was talking about Donald Trump. Seems to me Trump, King Ferdinand and Brexit share more commonalities than differences.

A friend of mine, an American-Israeli journalist of pronounced left-wing leanings, particularly in regard to the Netanyahu government, wrote on his personal website about the consequences of unfettered immigration.

This flaming liberal (I was once his editor; but that was so 20th Century. Hardly anyone on the web seems to be edited in our rapidly atomizing 21st Century.), wrote about the failure of left-wingers to understand the plight of those who economic and cultural (which includes religious) globalization has left dazed and angry.

Now we on the center-left, as I consider myself, consider them bigoted conservatives, even fascists (while in Madrid, I saw Picasso's original Guernica -- speaking of true fascist actions.) Here's a part of what Larry Derfner wrote:

Maybe the cosmopolitan liberals in the U.S., Britain and Europe should recognize that the Brexiters, Trump voters, Le Pen supporters and the like, even though they’ve chosen radical, destructive, xenophobic solutions, do have a real problem: There are too many immigrants around for their comfort.  Racist appeals should not be listened to, but appeals of economic fear and bruised national identity should be, especially when they’re coming from such a huge number of people in the West, from tens upon tens of millions of citizens who evidently feel very insecure at home.
So Western liberals should listen to the white people who mistakenly voted for Brexit, who voted Trump and will again, who support Le Pen in France, Wilders in Holland, Pegida in Germany and the other European anti-immigration movements -- and show a little solidarity. Stop being afraid of being called racists; it’s not racist to say there should be limits on immigration and that these limits have been passed. It’s not even “nationalistic” to say this, it’s just a matter of recognizing that nations are different and want to remain different, at least to some extent, which is something progressives need to learn.
Western left-liberals should come out for reasonable curbs on new immigration -- and stop handing the field to demagogues who turn vulnerable people’s frustrations into fascism, and who offer not limits but expulsion, walls and disastrous retreat from the world.

For this and similar statements, some left-wing commentators on his site, including other journalists writing for the international media, excoriated his reasoning.

Said one, also a journalist friend from the American-Israeli left:

Totally and wholeheartedly disagree. No, there's no such thing as too many immigrants. There is such a thing as too much bigotry and intolerance though, which is all I see illustrated in your post. Some people also fear others who are a little different. One of the problems in Europe, Britain being but one example, is a lack of a pluralistic or immigrant absorption ethos. They can learn a little from the American example on that one, and the xenophobes in America can take a closer look at their history and see they're a nation entirely made up of immigrants. Nope I don't buy this anti-immigrant nonsense. Anywhere.

So journalists are just people, too. Well most of them are, most of the time, anyway. We disagree among ourselves as strongly as do members of any societal subgroup. If you read GetReligion regularly, you may already know that.

I have no idea where the human experiment will end, though I'm relatively sure this post ends right about here. We can go back to watching the tsunami of news coverage about the Brexit fallout.

Because after breakfast I'm off to the Spanish Basque Country. Ah, speaking of the failure of humanity to show some goodwill that might, just might, allow us to prosper alongside those of other religious, racial, linguistic, economic or political tribes.

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