Basque Terrorism

Tragically, what's left of ETA, the Basque terrorist group, won't give up the madness of murder. On Friday morning they assassinated a Basque police officer, Eduardo Puelles, with a small bomb that went off when Puelles started his car. And this murder was especially cruel: Puelles was literally burned to death, trapped inside a vehicle turned into a gaseous bonfire. So these violent fanatics, reactionaries of the worst sort, add to their macabre legacy: another widow, more orphaned children. A family destroyed. Nothing good comes of these senseless murders, but the little world of ETA does keep shrinking, and the Basque country continues to take steps to deal with past sins of omission. Huge demonstrations in support of the victims are now the norm. To the shame of many, in the not so distant past the typical reaction to ETAs violence was a morally repugnant excess of silence. Yesterday tens of thousands took to the streets of Bilbao: "ETA NO!" And now that the Nationalists are out of power, the Orwellian discourse of circumlocution and evasion is gone. Fresh air. Last night I was in the "parte vieja" of San Sebastian with Cristina and several of her friends. This historic neighborhood is the traditional stronghold of the radicals in San Sebastian, but it seems even some of them are rethinking things. Those who are willing to publicly show sympathy for ETA are very few indeed these days. At least, that's the impression I got last night. It's subtle, but I think the signs are definitely there. Maybe some day we'll all be able to enjoy the beauty and culture of this extraordinary little country with less guilt. There is no doubt that San Sebastian embodies one of the most schizophrenic realities imaginable. Here we are in a uniquely beautiful city, full of very attractive, prosperous citizens who enjoy the good life, including arguably the world's greatest cuisine. Where bar hopping is a high art form and 'downtown' wraps itself around one of the most marvelous bays in the world. And where the slow drip of "ethnic" cleansing by assassination and intimidation has been a shameful scourge for way too long, and moral relativism of the most indignant kind has too often ruled the day. But things are getting better. Much, much better.