In March, 2012, we toured Spain and learned a bit of history in the process. After the trip, I did a blog post, Spain’s History of Tyranny, Tolerance, Tribute, and Territorial Struggles, which outlined the problems associated with a few hundred years of fluctuating populations and powers of Christians, Muslims, and Jews, never really liking each other but sometimes tolerating each other…for money of course. It was not a pretty picture. Suffice it to say that being tolerated is not the same as being free.
The last paragraph of the posting mentioned comments by our Montserrat guide about dictator Franco’s forty year reign (1936-1975). I think the only thing Franco worshiped was Power. The guide said that the General was well known for improvements in infrastructure, often built with free labor of his imprisoned political enemies, and even shared a personal testimony about the impact on his own family of Franco’s administration. I caught it on video which I have transcribed. Here are a screen shot of the video during his talk and the words he spoke:
"Eighty percent of Catalan families, they had at least one family member in political prison in Franco’s times. Can you imagine that? It’s a very high percentage. My father was one of them. Like my father, thousands of them, this was something very, very common. The problem was, at that time, I was a child, and between four and ten years of age, I couldn't see my father, and like me, thousands of kids. What my father did is ridiculous, ridiculous, because my father didn't know anything about politics. He didn't even like them, but he did something wrong that he never knew, against the political situation. Unfortunately he has been captured and considered a new political prisoner. They were short of labor. OK? Those political prisoners, they never went to jail because to go to jail was wasting time and wasting money. They went up to the mountains to work. OK? For what my father did, he was supposed to work up there for twelve years. But because of good conduct the penalty went down to six. It was something very, very common, all over the country."
He went on to say that no provision was made for the families of the people imprisoned. They just had to do the best they could with meager resources.
Listening to current news about things going on at the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security and Health and Human Services reminded me of the words of the guide and prompted me to take the time for the transcription and posting. Yes, the impact of being singled out for special treatment by the IRS because of political reasons is pretty tame compared to the impact of being taken prisoner and sentenced to hard labor for political reasons. But, in principle, there is no difference.
Let’s not take our freedoms for granted.