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Alberto de Lucas Vicente, researcher of project 'Public discourse' of Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra.

Miguel Hernández (and other faças)

Tue, 21 Jul 2020 16:15:00 +0000 Published in Alto Aragón Newspaper

I remember with a certain tenderness (perhaps because of the excessive paternalism that sometimes protects us teachers from fright) a question that my students used to ask me from high school diploma when we used to read Miguel Hernández at class: "So, was he a facha?". The question used to be accompanied by perplexed faces, especially those who remembered that shortly before I had told them about his participation in the Civil War, fighting for the Republican side, and his subsequent imprisonment. The question arose from the reading of texts such as "Vientos del pueblo me llaman", "Toro" or "Llamo al toro de España", among many others, where the poet of the people expressed (literally) his love and admiration for his homeland, proudly extolled the Spanish race for its bravery (symbolized by the male attributes) or showed off his passion for bullfighting.

I had to explain to my students that the world changes and with it the ideas and concepts. That some ideas that today we label as right-wing, years ago were left-wing thinking. That, for this reason and above all, we cannot decontextualize history and apply current parameters to the past. My students could be wrong (it was almost a necessity of the process of teaching) with their inherited judgments of the world around them, because they were learning. But a mature society cannot allow itself to give vat to a historical revisionism that takes facts and characters out of context to sustain and give strength to an ideological framework that should be able to defend itself and have its raison d'être in its present claims. These characters, mistaken or not, were the fruit of their time and what, with today's earmuffs, we deem reprehensible, should not, in any case, tarnish their achievements.

Although I am not yet aware that it has happened, in this absurd age in which we live, based on the above poems and many others, and applying from today's perspective the fallacy that moves these days the cultural vandalism, Hernandez could be accused of facha ("I am not from a town of oxen (...) / Nunca medraron los bueyes / en los páramos de España"), speciesist, animal killer ("Elevando/ toreros/ a la gloria") or chauvinist ("No te van a castrar, poder tan masculino / que fecundas la piedra; no te van a castrar"). The poet would thus fall into media or social stoning, into disrepute, and his busts and statues, real or metaphorical, would also fall, mistreated. Thus, a double injustice would be committed, with the poet and with society, which would lose the one who (whether or not one is of agreement with his ideas or with his political militancy) has been one of the great Spanish poets of the twentieth century.

The biggest problem is that we are getting used to living with lynching as an argument. Today it is the anti-racist movement, but only a few years ago a large part of children's and popular literature was banned for being sexist (I am especially hurt by the attack on "Peter Pan", one of my favorite classics) and even less time ago still lifes and still lifes were censored for offending vegans and animalists, Thus, it is not the pain of seeing patriotic pride attacked that moves us to outrage, but the pain of seeing the genocide perpetrated with impunity against common sense, another great pandemic of our times, so damaging to the intellect that, as the Oriolan would say, "because it hurts, it hurts my breath".