By now, I presume that you have all seen the news about the bombings on the Spanish trains. I just wanted to offer a couple observations. First, soon after the bombings, CNN World interviewed one of Spain’s foreign ministers. She read the CNN interviewer the riot act for referring to the Basques as “separatists” rather than “terrorists.” The CNN anchor protested that they did so because separating is the Basque groups goal. Spain’s foreign minister would have none of it, and insisted that this was terrorist organization. I generally thought that it was good to see CNN taken to task for trying to be too neutral on matters in which neutrality is not required. When a militant group brutally kills average citizens riding the train to work, we don’t need to focus on their objects—they are terrorists. Or are we too uncertain to place moral disapproval on anyone?
The second observation is a personal one. I was in Spain in 2002 on the anniversary of September 11. Sitting in a cafe, the waitress walked over to me and my friends and, upon recognizing us as Americans, offered her apologies: “This is a sad day for you.” The Spanish people were very sensible about the war on terror, and were among the first to fully support the United States. The reason, which was highlighted in the papers while we were there, is the Basque threat. They have lived under the specter of terror for years, and it means that they speak sensibly—and, as CNN learned this morning, candidly--about such things.