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Ignoring difficult issues-US Immigration, Spanish Civil War

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:03 pm    Post subject: Ignoring difficult issues-US Immigration, Spanish Civil War Reply with quote

This is an interesting comparison of the way we in the US keep pushing immigration issues into the future and the way Spain tried to forget the horrors of the Civil War with its Pacto de Olvido. What are we achieving by ignoring or forgetting reality present or past?
Aquí está una comparación entre la forma en que en los EE.UU. dejando los asuntos de inmigración al futuro y la forma en España donde se tratan de olvidar los horrores de la guerra civil con su Pacto de Olvido. ¿Qué logramos por ignorar u olvidar la realidad presente o pasado?


A U.S. 'pact to ignore' illegal immigration
Kaitlin E. Thomas
Op-ed: The U.S. seems to be experiencing a pact to ignore illegal immigration.
2016/01/03 Baltimore Sun


No matter how much time, and despite any number of incentives offered, is an individual really capable of truly ever forgetting a trauma suffered? Ponder this: Could you, in a sense, pretend that psychological, physical, or emotional scars were invisible? Could you eliminate entire periods of time from memory?

Consider a nation to be an entity comprised of individuals; persons with varying recollections and experiences influenced by a myriad of factors, but still based on factual happenings. Would it be foolish for governing bodies and leaders to imagine that this collective possesses the capability to cooperatively and mutually forget civil war, familial loss, physical and mental abuse, and immobilizing fear suffered on a nationwide scale?

Such a pact of forgetting — el Pacto de Olvido — emerged in an effort to purge a painful past after the death of the formidable Franco in Spain. There was a legally authenticated prohibition of Civil War related prosecution (as outlined in the Spanish 1977 Amnesty Law), an eventual cessation of any war- or Franco- related discourse, and later the actual removal of Franco-related symbols from public sites (spurred on by the 2004 Historical Memory Law). This Pact to Forget is quite literally a governing effort to erase history from individual and collective memory. Of particular interest is what this perfect storm of decades long stunted grief and, more importantly here, the deficiency of cathartic dialogue, have resulted in for today's 21st century Spain.

Virtually requiring a populace to forget events and actions that have left profound socio-political consequences is negligent governance. As can be observed in Spain, the discussion surrounding policies to forget ironically keeps all that is trying to be disremembered very much at the forefront of collective awareness, in turn amplifying the desire to confront, to act and to change. It is precisely this type of constant dialogue that is perpetuating a different type of pacto in the U.S. regarding another contemporary socio-political issue also deeply rooted in communal memory and experience: a pacto de ignorar, to ignore through inaction illegal Latino immigration.

The refusal on behalf of leaders to confront an issue of significant social importance is perpetuating a state of paralysis in which recovery, renovation and progress have become an impossibility. For Spain, a generation's failure to mourn complemented by a polarizing hyper-action affected a literal crisis of identity. For the U.S., a refusal to propose concrete solutions and the hyper-absence of constructive effort in the face of an acknowledged situation is stunting the possibility of leveraging an entirely new generation's personal, financial, familial, linguistic and even multi-cultural relationship with the United States for its benefit. In both situations, neither issue is capable of being disarmed without hands-on intervention and reformative thinking, yet such efforts continue to be thwarted. To what end is the conversation continuously shut down?

The reactionary impetus behind a pact to forget or to ignore social, political, even historical issues of such magnitude is shortsighted and ill considered to say the least. It has become apparent in the case of Spain that to ignore is to create a new breed of tribulations for other generations to endure at the expense of socio-political and national well-being. While the exact socio-political implications of continuing to ignore illegal Latino immigration are conjectural today (though becoming increasingly less so as that demographic continues to establish itself as a permanent rather than transient group), it is an unavoidable certainty that inaction toward one of the most relevant domestic issues of the 21st century today will position the U.S. to experience a similar fate tomorrow.

Kaitlin E. Thomas is an instructor of Spanish at Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth and a lecturer of Spanish at Norwich University.
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