Spain tells Mexico 'Hell, no!' following AMLO's demand for an apology for colonial conquest
Not wanting a confrontation with the U.S. over the border surge, Mexico's socialist president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador decided to pick a fight with socialist-run Spain instead, calling on its king to "apologize" for the nation's 500-year-old conquest of Mexico. What could be easier? Leftists love to apologize for the supposed misdeeds of forbears, as President Obama demonstrated repeatedly. Spain would be an easy mark for one of these, AMLO calculated.
Much to AMLO's surprise, he got a wet mop in the face from Spain, from its socialist foreign minister, no less. Foreign minister Josep Borrell said Spain would refuse to apologize for the 500-year-old conquest and reminded Mexico that they'd settled these matters many years before. It was an unexpectedly strong sign that the era of Big Apology is now over.
El País reports Spain's hard-ass letter of official response:
In a release, the Spanish government said that it "firmly rejects" the arguments contained in the letter, which was sent to the monarch via the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry.
"We emphatically reject its contents," said the Spanish government in a statement after EL PAÍS reported on the letter, which is dated March 1.
"The arrival of Spaniards 500 years ago to present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations. Our brother nations have always known how to read our common past without anger and with a constructive perspective," said the Spanish government in its statement.
Notice that Spain pretty much clarified that this isn't the first time this has come up, and the letter suggested that the Spaniards are getting tired of this.
The socialist foreign minister, whose party is feeling heat from Spain's conservatives as election time approaches, came up with some pretty good context to justify that response:
According to El País:
Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he "deeply" laments the request by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and that, "obviously," Spain is not going to offer such an "extemporaneous apology."
"Just like we are not going to ask the French Republic to apologize for what Napoleon's soldiers did when they invaded Spain. Or like the French are not going to ask the Italians to beg forgiveness for Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul," he added.
The Spanish conservatives were even stronger and clearer in why this crap needs to go, pointing out that it was a disgusting bid to rewrite Spain's grand history, which was loaded with creativity, art, wealth creation, discovery, science, and other elements of greatness. It was not without negatives — it wasn't good for Jewish people, who got lumped in with Arabs with the great expulsion of 1492, in a bad reaction to events — but it was hardly a cartoon picture of evil, either. This Spanish official actually knows the history of Spain and points out that leftists are trying to erase those very facts and contexts — in the name of replacing it all with a dreary Ben Rhodes–style "narrative."
On Tuesday, the leader of the conservative PP, Pablo Casado, nevertheless criticized the government and the "leftist friend of [PM] Pedro Sánchez."
"What he [López Obrador] said is a veritable affront to Spain. I will not tolerate it," said Casado, who will be competing with Sánchez for votes at the upcoming general election of April 28. "I don't believe in Spain's black legend. Not in the one that was drafted centuries ago, and not in the one that the complex-ridden left is now trying to draft. We are one of the most important nations in the history of humanity."
That understanding is correct, if you have ever read Paul Johnson's History of the American People and several of his other histories showing the industriousness and impressive faith and achievements of the Spanish empire. It also shows why it's so important that these Spanish conservatives eventually win. The Spanish conservative pol points out that the apology stuff is nothing more than a bid to rewrite an illustrious history in the crummy limited vein of the far left, which never liked the idea of any country (except the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Venezuela) being great. The reality is, the Left never recognizes any achievements that can't be laid at the feet of the Socialist International. Already Spain is an injured party in the field of history, having suffered from the public relations body of lies from historic rival Britain, which in a proto-example of "narrative-making" put out the "Black Legend' to smear Spain, a collection of lies and propaganda aimed at portraying everything dark and dirty in Europe as somehow connected to Spain. To this day, Spain's history continues to be distorted and underappreciated as a result of that.
What's more, Spain was hardly an unalloyed villain in the conquest of Mexico. As Instapundit points out, it literally freed Mexico from slavery and human sacrifice culture of the vicious Aztec empire. "They didn't 'conquer' Mexico. They freed it from the savage Aztec empire," Glenn Reynolds notes. Most important here was Queen Isabella of Castile's watershed declaration that Indians are people, with souls, and worthy of conversion to Christianity. That was something their English rivals were none too clear about, and it stood in stark contrast to the conventional view that most conquering nations though history shared as the common "narrative": that conquered peoples weren't worth any considerations of humanity. Isabella declared Indians human, and that was a huge step forward.
The result was this, which the Spanish conservative politician noted to El País:
Casado also said that "unlike what happened with other empires," the Spaniards who went to the Americas "ended up having families there" and mixing with the local populations. "Spaniards went there and ended the power of tribes that were murdering their own neighbors cruelly and viciously."
To sort out even more history, yes, the destruction of the beautiful Aztec capital was tragic, but the Spaniards were not directly responsible, and they themselves wept over it. More important, there was a reason the Mexican Indians chose to convert to the religion of the conquering Spaniards: the sick, morally revolting human sacrifice culture of the Aztecs. The Aztecs were conquered not by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés alone, but through the critical assistance of Mexico's other angry Indian tribes who detested the Aztecs and all their cruelty and wanted them gone, too. One can't forget that when the Aztecs sent a messenger to the rival Tarasco nation, to appeal for military help to fend off Cortés, the Tarasco chief slaughtered the Aztec messenger as his reply.
The 1517 vision of Guadalupe, where the Virgin Mary came down to one of the oppressed Indians with an Indian face and left a famous relic, was an even bigger reason for the Indians to reject the Aztecs and embrace Christianity as their own — the vision proved that it really was theirs, too. When the conquerors' own Mother of God comes down to the conquered Indians and effectively shows, "I'm one of you," and declares that she has done this for "no other people," it's a pretty attractive invitation.
But it doesn't support the current leftist "narrative" very well.
This is why the left wants to command apologies everywhere, make the West guilty of every crime, ignore the very real crimes of other players, whether of socialists or ancient warlords, and leave only socialism in the rubble and remains. Socialists get that well enough without destroying history, but it's important to recognize that the destruction of history is very elemental to the left, dating from Lenin. Mao's cultural revolution was all about destroying history, ripping out and smashing every vestige of China's grand culture, and Pol Pot's Cambodia was all about destroying every memory and even person with memory, in order to build a society from the ground up, making human beings just putty in his hands. Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks were voracious destroyers of history, targeting Russia's beautiful churches, destroying their interiors, stealing the gold and silver to melt down and sell, and then using the proceeds to propagandize Europe. The relics of saints were ground into the Russian spring mud. Now we have the resurgent left in the U.S. striking down historic statues in the dark of night, rewriting history books, and demanding "reparations." Socialist AMLO in Mexico is following this template, targeting Spain, insincerely demanding an apology for 500-year-old "wrongs."
Whether by pressure from Spain's conservatives or just being tired of the same old phony leftist narratives replacing the rich experience of history, Spain put a stop to it. AMLO also demanded an apology from Pope Francis, who's already doled out lots of them on the matter without anyone asking, so it remains to be seen if Pope Francis will put his foot down about the obvious agenda of erasing history as well. Unfortunately, we can't put it past him, but so far, so good.
Spain's response marks a watershed. Let's hope more nations follow suit, because a precedent has now been set.