Here in the United States, we see activists aiming to erase all references to the Confederacy from public life by tear down the statues and monuments and renaming the schools and roads. Somehow true progress requires us to sandblast Stone Mountain, to no longer drive on Jefferson Davis Highway, or to ever watch reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard.
In Spain, there’s a similar movement trying to erase everything connected to Francisco Franco — even Salvador Dali.
Should Spain remember native son Salvador Dalí as a famous surrealist or a fascist sympathizer and admirer of the dictator Francisco Franco? Antonio Ortiz, a 60-year-old amateur historian, wants the city government to take a stand. The city’s answer will determine whether a two-square-block space designed by the artist and popular among skateboarders gets to keep the name Salvador Dalí Plaza.
The article goes on to describe “a group calling itself the Anti-Fascist Coordinator was taking direct action. In 2001, its members spray-painted the words “assassin” and “genocide” in pink on the base of Madrid’s last-standing statue of Franco.” Also:
Last year activists removed a plaque marking Madrid’s Long Live Spain Plaza. (The antifascist group gives prizes, such as lunch at a deli, for feats like that.) Leaflets handed to puzzled bystanders explained the name echoes a Francoist civil war battle cry. In its place, the activists put up a plaque reading “ Vicente Blasco Ibáñez Plaza,” the square’s previous name, which honored the Spanish novelist who wrote “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Conservative city authorities wouldn’t let that stand. Soon it was Long Live Spain Plaza again.
When you’re engaged in defacing public property and tearing down signs that don’t belong to you… maybe you’re not as anti-fascist as you think you are.
Could you imagine Spain getting so wrapped up in a desire to erase its history that it tears down all references to Salvador Dalí? The man whose most famous work is entitled (pause for irony) The Persistence of Memory? Are we at war with the past? I understand if you try to erase Dali from history, your wristwatch and clocks start to melt.