Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Age's latest scoop: Insulting the Spanish Queen

Journalists know: “Dog bites man” is no news, “Man bites dog” makes it into a paper. When it concerns The Age this axiom reads: It’s not newsworthy that “more than 100,000 people greeted the Queen in Ottawa in burning heat on Canada Day 2010” (as a Quebec daily reported). Not one word about Her Majesty's overwhelming success in Canada in The Age. It was of much greater interest to The Age, when 150 slogan-chanting Quebec nationalists showed their posters against Prince Charles’s visit to Canada in November 2009.

The Age followed this principle once more in the article Spanish rivalries on hold for Cup (10th July 2010) by repeating its anti-Monarchist reflex by blowing up a minor incident:

“The Queen of Spain is on television and the sweaty bodies, their owners endlessly smoking in the bar, jeer and catcall and sneer before yelling, 'Es una garrapata! puta!' It's a football crowd, a few moments before the kickoff against Germany, and a cheer goes around. To hell with her. Viva España! Here in Valladolid, a former capital of the country, a centre of Spanish nationalism since Ferdinand and Isabella began the unification of the separate Iberian kingdoms to form modern Spain. 'Puta!' they call again. Imagine - although you may not care to - a Yorkshireman calling Queen Elizabeth a slut.

"Sometimes it seems that the only thing propping up public support for the royal family of Spain is the ageing but grand figure of King Juan Carlos himself. After his death, could the republic lost in 1936 to the fascists be born again?"

The author did not shamefully hide his name, but The Age told the audience that it was Callum Newman, a Melbourne writer who was giving this statement. A Melbourne writer? What is he then doing in Valladolid? Is he based in Spain? As a Melbourne writer, he is not known. Only one other article written by him can be found on the net: A student’s item published in 2003 in The Age, of course. Hardly enough to make a living as a writer.

Let’s see, how the facts match with what the Melbourne writer, who so nostalgically wants “the republic lost in 1936 ... to be born again”, had to say about Spain’s Monarchy.

"The Spanish Constitution, which was unanimously approved by Parliament and voted by 87.8% of the citizens in a referendum held on 6 December 1978, provides in his article 1 for a Parliamentary Monarchy of the classical liberal European style, with certain peculiarities to take into account the Spanish situation."

In two recent opinion polls the Monarchy received an overwhelming support from the Spanish people: 20 minutos in 2007: "69% of the Spaniards say the Parliamentary Monarchy is the ideal form of state. 22% would prefer a republic.”

In May 2009 57.4% of the Spaniards said they wanted King Juan Carlos serving the country as King until his death. Only a fifth wanted him abdicate soon in favour of Crown Prince Felipe. Eleven percent favoured an abdication within eight to ten years. At the same time 81% said, Don Felipe was well prepared for his duties a Spanish King.

And when it comes to the popularity of the Spanish Royal Family, then Callum Newman should note this result of an opinion poll published by Typically Spanish:
"King Don Juan Carlos has been chosen as the most important Spaniard in History.

"His name came top from 100 personalities in a poll of 3,000 citizens as part of a television programme format which has already been broadcast in other countries.

"The King was joined in the top ten by his queen, Doña Sofia and also by Prince Felipe.

"Other royalty made their presence in the list – Queen Isabel, La Católica was at number 11, Doña Letizia at 15 and Alfonso X, the Wise, at number 18.

"Ex Prime Ministers Adolfo Suárez and Felipe González came in at 5 and 10.

"Miguel de Cervantes took the arts into second place and Pablo Picasso was at number 8.

"Completing the top ten, Nobel Prize winner Ramón y Cajal was at number 6, the writer Santa Teresa de Jesús was number 9 and Cristopher Colon was at number 3."
If the incident in the Spanish bar took place as The Age printed it, is only to the author to know. He must be fairly good in Spanish to be able to understand swear words, because you don’t learn them at school. What definitively is not correct is him generalizing an alcohol-impregnated incident and claiming the Spanish Monarchy would face any immediate danger.

As a good republican Callum Newman should be much more worried about French president Nicolas Sarkozy whose approval rate fell to an all time low of 26%. There is not living Monarch whose approval rate is below 50% - even if “sweaty bodies, their owners endlessly smoking in the bar” may not like Su Majestad el Reina Doña Sofia as much as the Spanish team that was visited by their Queen (and what could be watched in Australia on SBS. For once they did not censor a royal event.)

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