Who Are the Bad Guys?

In my course on Hispanic Civlization, I was talking about the horrors of the Inquisition.

“Why do the Christians always come off like the bad guys?” one student asked giving me an accusatory stare.

I didn’t want to tell her that we still had the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the name of the spread of Christianity ahead of us in the course.

And the ruin that religious fanaticism brought to the Spanish-speaking world during the years of the Empire.

And the way the Church constantly undermined the struggle for progress and the attempts to create a democratic society in Spain in the XIXth and early XXth centuries.

And the fascist Catholic dictatorship that existed in Spain between 1939 and 1975.

I have no desire to hurt the sensibilities of my Bible Belt students who have spent their lives in places where religion is the only form of entertainment and community organizing. But what can I do if history is the way it is?

30 thoughts on “Who Are the Bad Guys?”

  1. ESTEBAN: ¿Quién mató al comendador?
    MENGO: Fuenteovejuna lo hizo.
    ESTEBAN: Perro, ¿si te martirizo?
    MENGO: Aunque me matéis, señor.
    ESTEBAN: Confiesa, ladrón.
    MENGO: Confieso.
    ESTEBAN: Pues, ¿quién fue?
    MENGO: Fuenteovejuna.

    As an alternative answer, you could show them Sergei Eisenstein’s “Alexander Nevsky”. Since it is a silent, the language won’t matter and they can discuss it in Spanish.

    Of course, the answer to Fuenteovejuna is that Lope was a Christian, if the southern Illinois “christians” would consider a “catholic” a christian.

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    1. We read Fuenteovejuna in my grad course last year and it was wlidly successful. Except for one male student who said he was tired of “las pinches feministas.” 🙂 I had to tell him that the pinche feminista author of the play was male.

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      1. And died 400 years ago! I first read “Fuenteovejuna” in high school. How did this guy make it to grad school in Spanish without knowing about Lope?

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    1. In my course, they keep turning out to be the good guys. I had to keep pounding the students over the heads with, “Starting in 711, Muslims restored culture and civilization to dirty, stupid and backwards Europe.”

      What can I do, it’s history? I’m not making this up or anything.

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      1. “Starting in 711, Muslims restored culture and civilization to dirty, stupid and backwards Europe.”

        What were you thinking, woman? They attacked the Visigoths, the height of Ukrainian culture.

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          1. The Visigothic migration to Iberia in historical times began from the southern Ukrainian steppes between the Don, Dnieper and and the Dniester rivers. Of course, they probably originated somewhere along the Baltic, but that was pre-history.

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              1. The Vandals were also from the same area of southern Ukraine. That is where they picked up the Iranic speaking Alans, whose descendants today are the Ossetians. The Alans kingdom/empire, between the Volga and the Don, was destroyed by the Hunnic invasion and they moved west of the Don and teamed up with the Vandals. They picked up some of the Suevi on the east bank of the Rhine, just before the crossing in 406. By the time they got to Iberia, there were actually more Alans than Vandals and Suevi.

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  2. “But what can I do if history is the way it is?”

    Just tell your students these were Catholics. I doubt most Bible Belt kids have been socialised to include Catholics within their approved Christian cliques.

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  3. “Finally, there is some conquest we managed to pull off successfully. Good for us!”

    Well, it was only successful for 300 years. Hey wait. The US has only been around 225 years!?

    Hopefully, you will include a showing of the film, “También la lluvia” in your course.

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      1. Do you mean that “being the most advanced culture in the world” indicates that the Moros must have been Americans? Your students are great!

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        1. Yes. It’s all my fault because I used the language they identify easily and relate to their nationalistic discourse as a matter of course.

          I should have realized what I was doing. 🙂 🙂

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  4. I have no desire to hurt the sensibilities of my Bible Belt students who have spent their lives in places where religion is the only form of entertainment and community organizing. But what can I do if history is the way it is?

    Why not?? I always thought one of the purposes of college was to challenge students’ deeply held/unexamined beliefs. It surely worked that way for me, and I attended a fundamantalist Xtian college.

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        1. Goodness, really? Here is Monty Python — it is my personal opinion they are a mix of physical humour (the Ministry of Funny Walks, for example) and subversive sociopolitical parody. I think they’re great, but a little too much in large doses. Others, however, think they’re almost spiritually uplifting comedy.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python

          This is their sketch, the Spanish Inquisition, which gave Anglophone popular culture the catch-phrase, “NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

          As a bonus, since you’ve lived in Canada, here’s their Lumberjack Song:

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          1. Am I autistic also? I don’t get more than an intermittent chuckle and by the second minute I am bored. They may be the best we have today in slapstick comedy, but they are far short of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Abbot & Costello.

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